I consider myself a bit of a movie buff. I like movies, I watch movies. All kinds, the good, bad and, ugly. Unfortunately for me, I lost a solid 120 minutes seeing Birth of a Nation. I know, I know, I’m contributing to keeping the black man down. I know. Shame. Shame. Shame.
When I first heard about this movie it was during Sundance. People were reporting there was a movie about Nat Turner that had white people giving standing ovations after the credits rolled. (In hindsight that should have been a clue.) A bidding war ensued and this film made history as the highest selling film purchased from Sundance. I was excited to see it. People that had seen it reported it was amazing. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Then the director’s past came into play and took on a larger narrative than the film, and either he is half goofy or just has a warped self perception, he was not handling the press well.
Despite all of that I decided to see the film early. In hindsight, I wish i had spent my evening better. I am not one of those people who is tired of seeing slave movies. There aren’t that many slave movies, and I personally believe those stories are valid and need to be told. So while I wasn’t looking for Birth of a Nation to free me from anything i was expecting what i expect from any movie i watch, some degree of nourishment. In that sense the movie missed the mark for me.
It just wasn’t good.
It was long, and it felt long. It stayed at the surface for me, and while there are portions that did evoke an emotion it wasn’t enough. This wasn’t good enough for Nat Turner.
The original Birth of a Nation was a racist propaganda piece, and while this current film in no way is a harmful or detrimental a source of information. It just wasn’t good. I know i keep saying that. I wanted it to be good. I did. I’ve absolutely seen worse movies, without question. I have also without question seen better much better. Its unfortunate really. But you know the universe always comes to collect what is due. And maybe he had a debt to pay to the universe…
People are arguing about the historical inaccuracies and how black women are depicted and why were faux rape stories added. Those are all important issues to be raised, but the most important issue is, that this movie was just not up to the task at hand.
While I hope we, and by we I mean people of color, get more opportunities to make movies in Hollywood and on the small screen (although we are killing tv right now in all the right ways) make it good folks. Cause this ain’t it.