I was disappointed no theaters around me were playing Birth of a Nation. I am in San Francisco and neither of the mainstream theaters (AMC) were playing the movie. However, we found a theater in the city that was playing it-CineArts at The Empire. This theater was tiny and old, only showing three films, and one of them was The Birth of a Nation, which made me happy and proud. They only have three theaters and could play only three movies and they chose to play this film that’s been getting a lot of pushback. I love that theater now for that.
I made the thirty minute bus commute down there in West Portal because I really wanted to, and needed to, see that movie.
I was glad I did see it too.
The movie was artistically beautiful. It filled my body with so many different emotions. It brought me to tears at some parts, developed thoughts in my mind, shot chills through my body, filled my heart with both heartache and compassion, and simply produced an artistic sublimity in my mind and body.
Nate Parker did such a phenomenal job bringing this story to life. He was the producer, the director, the screenwriter, and the star of the movie-Nat Turner.
And all of the actors did a great job portraying their historical roles.
For those who don’t understand completely what it’s about, it’s about Nat Turner and the slave rebellion known as Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion that you probably briefly learned about in your high school history classes. The movie started from his childhood to his death, so it was a full circle. It was so amazing. So historically accurate, detailed, graphic, and simply put together so well.
It was very artistic and loaded. The English major kept coming out of me, and I kept diving into scenes dissecting them and analyzing them.
The most captivating artistic scene was the bright yellow butterfly, which ended up being on a young dead boy’s hanged body once the camera zoomed out.
People say they are tired of seeing slave movies, but they need to be made, played, and seen until there is change.
This wasn’t a complete slave movie though. In a way, it was a victorious ending.
However, the most beautiful part of the movie was seeing the audience.
I know San Francisco is dominated by white people, but I didn’t expect many white people to want to see this movie.
We were alone in the theater, then a white couple came in. Then another white couple came in.
I began to think this was not the theater for The Birth of a Nation. But, it was.
Then I began to think they thought The Birth of a Nation was about patriotism or the founding fathers and not about slave rebellion, but they knew.
These people came with no black friends, no black partners, to see this movie.
White people went all by themselves to see this movie, get educated, get a sense of understanding, to try to make a change in their lives, or to develop sympathy, or whatever their reason for going was.
They could have seen the other two movies playing at the theater, The Accountant or The Girl on the Train, but they wanted to see The Birth of a Nation.
That was so amazing to me. That made me so happy.
This is how change happens overtime, when people who are not of color voluntarily join in and give their voice to our cause.
So, I was filled with such admiration for these strangers of superior exteriors stepping into the theater and sitting through about two hours of black history, suffering, brutality, torture, victory, death, rape, and the word nigger.
I cringed the first time I heard the word in the movie. It reminded me of my English classes when we have the debate about whether or not to say it, but it is important to say it in historical depictions and reenactments, because it adds to the emotion and reaction of the audience.
This movie is not just for black people. It is for everyone. That is why I was glad it was not just a theater full of black faces. Everyone needs to see this movie, assimilate it, and compare it to today’s world because many years later, we are experiencing the same thing.
There was a line in the movie where the woman said they’re killing black people left and right for doing nothing at all. That line stuck with me because that is happening today with police brutality, black body abuse and molestation, and modern day slavery.
So go see this movie. It may be hard at some parts, but it’s very prominent to see. I don’t think I have ever really seen a slave movie. I never watched 12 Years a Slave, or any of the others because of the brutality and sensitivity intertwined, but I have a thicker skin than I thought. Yes, some parts made me cry, but that’s what art does-it evokes deep and repressed emotions in you.
So please go see The Birth of a Nation. Support Nate Parker and his black and artistic excellence. It is beautifully haunting. You will not regret seeing it, regardless of the emotions and feelings you leave the theater with.
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