An explosive new movie about a slave rebellion has some worried that it may provoke rioting and unrest.
Rev. Marshall Mitchell, a promoter of the movie “The Birth Of A Nation,” acknowledges this possibility in an article from the New York Times, saying, “We can’t control how the film is ultimately read, what actions people may take, but one message has been that there are very viable and practical steps.”
The film, based on the story of Nat Turner’s murderous slave rebellion, is set to premiere Friday.
Fox Searchlight, the film’s distributor, has not hidden the political motivation for the movie, but rather encouraged viewers to take the film as a call to “rise up.” It is pushing the film as a “provocation,” but nonetheless a peaceful one.
The Times writes that the film, “has been marketed as an urgent call to action,” and reports that “Nate Parker, the film’s director, writer, producer and star, says audiences should leave theaters asking, ‘When injustice knocks at our own front door, are we going to counter it with everything we have?’”
Perhaps the most inflammatory part of the film is the gang rape of Turner’s wife, a black woman, by a group of white men. In the movie, this event is purported to be the major reason for Turner’s rebellion.
However, this event has no historical basis. In fact, the real cause for Turner’s rebellion is a solar eclipse in 1831 that Turner believed to be a sign from God.
During Turner’s rebellion, a group of rebel slaves he led massacred over 50, going from house to house through Virginia and slaying all white people they came across, including women and children.
Parker has called the film “a blow against white supremacy and racism.”
The movie and its fans seek to draw a line from slavery to current America. Remarking on a scene of blacks being slain in retaliation to the rebellion, one reviewer writes: “This speaks directly to our own time in Ferguson, Tulsa, Chicago, you name it.”
Parker, who plays Turner in the movie, has been the subject of a controversy over a rape allegation made against him in 1999. Parker was later found innocent and has said he was falsely accused.
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