A passion project for Parker, who spent years putting it together on his own terms, the movie is an ambitious undertaking for a first-time director. At times the movie is a slog as we go through the childhood of Turner, who is taught to read by the wife of the plantation owner played by Penelope Ann Miller. He's taught the Bible, as other books are only for whites and he "wouldn't understand them," he's told. Fox Searchlight It's when Turner becomes an adult and is told by a master Armie Hammer to travel with him to other plantations to preach to fellow slaves to lift their spirits as rumors have started of emancipation that the movie finds its groove. Powered by Parker's emotional portrayal of Turner, the sermons give a jolt the movie needs, and the momentum builds as we begin to see the other slaves on the plantation with Turner begin to flock to him as a person who can lead them to a better future. That future involves killing their masters and forming an army that can overtake a nearby armory, where with guns they can take on any foe who comes at them. News has spread since "The Birth of a Nation" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year that one of the filmmakers Parker turned to for advice was Mel Gibson , and that is evident. Parker's movie has a "Braveheart" feel, from the plot of a man attempting to overpower an oppressor to the bloody battle sequences. But you can also find an homage to an African-American writer-director-producer-star previous to Turner.
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