The Birth of a Nation 2016: Movie Review

The Film and Its Subject Matter

The segment describes the film and its subject matter.

A Moving Drama

The film is a moving drama.

The Emotional Fear

This segment explains how the film was made to play on the viewers' emotional fears by convincing them that the fears depicted are genuine.

A Warning against Slavery and Oppression

This segment explores how the film conveys the message that slavery is wrong and that no race is superior to another because all people have rights that should be secured.

The Use of Black Thugs to Justify the Actions and Behaviors Presented

The movie depicts too much violence and torture, and the use of the black villain that can be referred to as a thug justifies these actions.


This section gives the final thought concerning the movie.


The Birth of a Nation is a famous film that has left a reputation and legacy. It can be seen as a narrative movie that details the lives of the black Americans as slaves in the plantations of the white Americans and how Turner lead a revolution against the oppression experienced by the slaves. The movie is blatantly and obviously racist, as it depicts two races, the blacks and the whites, and how violence was used in the revolt to seek justice from the oppression by the firm owners. The film was designed to play on the emotional fears of the viewers, as it convinces them that the fears the screenplay depicts are real. However, it also sends a positive message that each individual has a right to live happily and freely, and that there should be no race that is superior to the other. It is clear that the blacks used violence to make their point to the whites, which contradicts their intention to be granted a free life by them. However, this use of violence and torture can be seen as revenge against the oppression they experienced and is used to justify the actions and behaviors that the film presents. Despite the fact that the Americans might not accept this hateful movie and allow themselves to be persuaded by it to participate in violent actions against a minority like black Americans, the truth is that even as they separate themselves from their forebears, that era’s legacy as well as its underpinnings on racist morality are still present, which, in turn, makes the movie palatable to the current audiences, as its morals align with the politics of many of the present politicians.

Birth of a Nation 2016: Movie Analysis Essay


The Birth of a Nation is a controversial drama concerning Nat Turner, who kindled a bloody slave revolt in 1830 and entered the history books. It is true that the actions by Turner sent a message against oppression, but the fact that he relied on violence complicates everything. There is a lot of violence in the movie. The effects of violence are illustrated largely on screen as characters are raped and beaten, there is a lot of fighting, stabbing, and shooting where too much blood is lost. There is whipping, hanging, and torturing of the slaves. There are naked women shown in both sexual and non-sexual contexts. The movie has been released in a timely manner when there are blatant expressions of racist attitudes by political leaders of America, the uproar concerning brutality of police, and the establishment of Black Lives Matter, the fight on hate speech, as well as the present debate concerning the manner in which the criminal justice system can be reformed, which some people think is the continuation of Jim Crow. However, this film is focused on the right to live a free and self-sufficient American life and the duty of people to resist others that would be in conflict with that right.

The Film Is an Emotional Play

The film plays on the emotional fears of its viewers to persuade them concerning the reality of those fears. It achieves this by portraying a terribly bad situation that people cannot help but treat it as unavoidable. Turner and his followers, who were the freed slaves, went from house to house murdering the slave owners and their families, which represented Old Testament transposition of logic belonging to slave owners that individuals that classify other people as inhuman have no right to be seen as human themselves. The film can be seen as a revenge movie for a distressed time in the history of America, and it can be viewed as a blow against racism and white supremacy.

A Warning against Slavery and Oppression

From watching the movie, it is clear that there is a constructive message that people get concerning slavery. It is evident that the producer wanted people to know that they should come together, whether blacks or whites, with an aim of preventing swaggering bullies from controlling and ruining their lives. This does not mean that there should be racial supremacy. The film warns about controlling and suppressing the blacks, which is seen as the main elements of the film. People should know their place and fight for their rights, and no one should discriminate against another person because all individuals have rights. Turner himself was tormented by visions, which resembled a mental disorder, as he spoke of walking with the spirits that conversed with the early prophets and got the inspiration to lead a revolt that would free his people. According to the screenplay, Turner is treated as a warrior just like Moses, Jesus, or Sir William Wallace. Turner is infuriated by the manner in which women are abused in the hands of the slave owners, who are basically the whites. His first vision of blood is when slave catchers beat and rape his wife, who is then pushed over the edge for another woman to get raped. Towards the end of the film, there are intense battles between the militia that belongs to Turner and the pro-slavery whites. One of the scenes depicts a racist policeman that mainly protects the whites that were the slave owners from slaves. In the rebellion portrayed in this film, sexual exploitation is regarded as the chief motivating factor, just like in peaceful forms of anti-slavery activism and other slave rebellions. Resistance to oppression is illustrated in this film as a male pride matter, and the horrors are framed largely in terms of how the oppressions upset Turner, commenting over the deep-rooted economic system, which permitted the white Americans to perceive slavery as a simple fact of life, while in real sense it deprived the slaves of their rights as humans.

The Use of Black Thugs to Justify the Presented Actions and Behavior

The manner in which the situation of the movie is crafted makes it unmistakable and unambiguous. The use of thugs to refer to the black villains is purposeful, as a thug is an omnipresent and hostile being that is obviously cruel and evil because he kills, rapes, and hurts, and there is no successful attempt to negotiate with one. In the movie, the appropriate response to a thug is depicted through torture and violence. There is usually no moral questioning because if an individual feels bad about an action he or she is forced to do, it is obviously made that the thug forced them to do something through the unthinkable hateful actions. It is clear that the film depicts a tale with both convictions and tedious single-mindedness, and a self-regarding worth that makes the noble tone not to be trusted (Parker, 2017).


The film The Birth of a Nation employs effective and manipulative approaches with an aim of blurring the line between fiction and reality. The movie plays off the desires and fears of people and crafts a specific, unrealistic situation to persuade its audience that the presented solution is the only effective one.


Parker, N., Berman J. M., Gilbert A.L., Turen K., Holmes P.L. (Producers), & Parker N. (Director). (2016). The Birth of a Nation [Motion picture]. USA, Canada: Bron Studios, Mandalay Pictures, Phantom Four, Tiny Giant Entertainment.

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