The Birth of a Nation | Chicago Reader

The Birth of a Nation

Purchased for a record sum by Fox Searchlight, this debut feature by writer-director-star Nate Parker re-creates the 1831 slave revolt led by Nat Turner, a literate slave in Virginia whose Baptist fervor curdled into messianic delusion. Parker stages all this with the utmost sobriety, following the lead of 12 Years a Slave in his graphic depiction of slaveholders' cruelty (one hunger-striking slave gets his teeth knocked out with a file and hammer). The narrative structure is crude, a pile-up of white crimes building to an explosive and bloody payback, but the real problem is the central character: wearing so many hats at once, Parker fails to communicate the madness and God fever that enabled Turner to mobilize his people in a suicide attack against their captors. With Armie Hammer, Roger Guenveur Smith, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller, and Jackie Earle Haley.



  • Nate Parker


  • Nate Parker
  • Armie Hammer
  • Mark Boone Junior
  • Colman Domingo
  • Aunjanue Ellis
  • Dwight Henry
  • Aja King
  • Esther Scott
  • Roger Smith
  • Gabrielle Union
  • Penelope Miller
  • Jackie Haley
  • Tony Espinosa
  • Jayson Smith
  • Jason Stuart


  • Nate Parker
  • Kevin Turen
  • Jason Berman
  • Aaron Gilbert
  • Preston Holmes

What others are saying