The Birth of a Nation

Rated 1.0

Just terrible. In the world where narcissistic conviction and awards-bait mummification count for everything, co-writer-director-star Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation is an all-time masterpiece; in the real world, it’s complete shit. After winning multiple awards and receiving critical raves at Sundance, Parker’s film got bought by Fox Searchlight for a record sum, only to have its carefully calculated awards season rollout hijacked by reemerging allegations that Parker and co-screenwriter Jean McGianni Celestin raped a female college student in 1999. (Parker was acquitted; Celestin was found guilty but had his sentence overturned on appeal; the accuser committed suicide in 2012.) No matter what, The Birth of a Nation was always amateurish and incompetent, a glorified student film that turns the life of slave revolt leader Nat Turner into a bluntly linear, Braveheart-tinged act of self-aggrandizement; the only difference is that now you can read rape apologia into the subtext of every scene.