‘The Birth of a Nation’ Is an Epic Fail | The Nation – [Leslie M. Alexander / October 6, 2016]
After attending an advance screening of the film, however, I now know that Parker failed miserably in his mission. Contrary to his promises of “historical fidelity,” Parker created a deeply flawed, historically inaccurate movie that exploits and distorts Nat Turner’s story and the history of slavery in America. Nearly everything in the movie—ranging from Turner’s relationship with his family, to his life as a slave, and even the rebellion itself—is a complete fabrication. Certainly the film contains sprinklings of historical fact, but the bulk of Parker’s story about the rebellion is fictitious: Nat Turner did not murder his owner, nor did he kill a slave patroller. Turner’s rebellion was not betrayed by a young boy, or by anyone else involved in the revolt. To the contrary, the rebels fought until the bitter end. The shootout depicted in Jerusalem, Virginia, never happened, because the rebels were stopped by the militia before they ever reached Jerusalem. The list of inaccuracies, distortions, and fabrications goes on and on. Admittedly, historical accuracy probably matters more to me than to most people. And Parker was correct when he, somewhat flippantly, told journalist Anderson Cooper that “nothing is ever 100 percent historically accurate.” But how do we feel when the film contains only a smidgen of historical fact? And what if the historical inaccuracies are damaging and insidious?