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The Birth of a Nation [2016] [R] - 5.8.3



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Unlike the MPAA we do not assign one inscrutable rating based on age, but 3 objective ratings for SEX/NUDITY, VIOLENCE/GORE and PROFANITY on a scale of 0 to 10, from lowest to highest, depending on quantity and context.

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Sex & Nudity
Violence & Gore
1 to 10


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Based on the story of Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a slave in the antebellum South who led a slave rebellion in 1831. Hundreds of slaves were murdered in retribution. Also with Armie Hammer, Mark Boone Junior, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Dwight Henry, Aja Naomi King, Esther, Roger Guenveur Smith, Gabrielle Union and Penelope Ann Miller. Directed by Nate Parker. A few lines of dialogue are spoken in an African language with English subtitles. [2:00]

SEX/NUDITY 5 - A husband and his wife kneel in a darkened cabin facing each other and we see his bare chest and abdomen, and her bare breasts and abdomen (sex is implied). Several women chanting around a fire are topless and their bare breasts are visible (they appear to be covered with dried mud). A man is shown shirtless while being auctioned as a slave. Several women wear low-cut dresses that reveal cleavage and upper backs in several scenes throughout the movie. Several women at a dinner party wear low-cut dresses that reveal cleavage. A man and a boy are shown with undergarments covering their groins in a dream sequence and we see their bare abdomens.
 A man speaks to another man about a man wanting to have sex with the man's wife and they argue; we then see the man, tearful and angry, watching as his wife exits a house while adjusting her dress, and they hug and cry together (it is understood that the woman was forced to have sex with a man).
 A man and a woman kiss after being married and while other people dance and sing. A man kisses a woman, gets on his knees and asks her to marry him and they kiss again. A wife tells her husband that they are going to have a baby and they kiss. A man and a woman touch hands. A man gives a woman a bunch of flowers and flirts sheepishly.
 A woman is auctioned as a slave and the auctioneer makes references to her in suggestive terms to try to sell her to men in the audience; the man pulls at her dress and we see her bare shoulder. A man touches a woman's clothed leg and makes a suggestive remark about her.

VIOLENCE/GORE 8 - A man is walked to a gallows with many people yelling and hitting him along the way; a noose is placed around his neck and he is slowly pulled into the air and we watch him die slowly (his skin turns bluish, his veins bulge and his eyes close).
 A man raises an axe over another man in bed and hacks him in the chest: we see the wounded man pulling himself through a hallway and he sits up to reveal a very bloody chest wound, he drools blood from his mouth and blood pumps from the chest wound as he dies (we also see a smear of blood on the floor). Many men attack men in their homes: one man runs out of his home and is attacked by a man with large knife who hacks him (off-screen) several times until his head is cut off (we see the severed head); two men with hatchets hack two other men repeatedly (we hear the blows). A man is shot through the shoulder and another man jumps on him and strangles him; they wrestle and the shot man holds a knife and presses it into the other man's throat until he is dead (we see blood gurgling from the wound. Several men with guns shoot at several other men; one man is struck and falls dead (we see blood spurt) and we see this man again later with a bloody wound as another man covers his face with a cloth. Many men with guns face off with many other men holding farm implements (knives, axes, clubs, etc.) and they charge toward each other; we see many men struck and cut and shot with blood spurting and spraying in an extended scene. Several men are shot by snipers and we see holes opening in their clothing; a cannon is then fired into a shed where two men are hiding and one is stabbed in the neck with a shard of wood (the other man removes the wood and the first man dies from bleeding). A man runs through dark woods and three other men stop him and hold guns on him; they ask him for papers and one tells him to kneel as he holds a gun to his head, the kneeling man fights with the gunman and hits him on the side of the head while one of the other men is shot by one of the other gunmen (we see blood spurt from his head as he falls to the ground).
 Two men are shown chained to a wall and with metal plates strapped across their mouths in a hold; a man enters and tries to feed one of the men who refuses to eat, then knocks the man's front teeth out using a hammer (we see the man's bloody mouth), places a funnel in the man's mouth and shovels food through it (we see blood and food pour down the man's chin and chest. A man is strapped to a wooden frame and whipped repeatedly; we see blood drool from his mouth and we later see deep slashes on his back as a woman stitches them up. Many men, women and children are shown hanging from trees and some have dried blood on them. Two men tied to a tree and with bloody faces are splashed with a liquid and set ablaze (off-screen). A man walks into a town where he is attacked; beaten and kicked by townspeople until a man shoots a gun into the air to make them stop (the beaten man coughs and spits blood).
 Three men approach a woman collecting water from a well; one man asks her for a pass, then moves toward her and the scene ends (we hear that she was attacked and see her very swollen and bruised face later, and rape is implied). A man returns a dropped doll to a child and speaks to the child's mother; the child's father beats the man with a cane on the arm and back several times before being reprimanded and threatened by another man (the man with the cane grumbles as he leaves). A man shoves another man and threatens to "lynch" him. A man interrogates two women and a child about the whereabouts of a man (the child's father); he strikes one woman across the face and she falls to the floor, and he then yells at the boy. A man in shackles is struck from behind and he falls to his knees. A dog barks aggressively and lunges at a man who falls to the ground before another man admonishes the dog's owner. A man yells at another man for baptizing a man on his property, they yell at each other and the man hits the second man in the face with a rifle butt. A woman in a carriage jumps out, pushing a man to the ground and hits him several times while screaming in fear. A woman and young boy run through dark woods and find a man and several other women near a fire where they chant (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details) and the man pronounces the child a prophet.
 A dead body with brains and bloody matter on and around the head is shown lying on the ground in the woods. Several people gather around a man's death bed and we see the body with gray skin, as his wife grieves. A woman is shown sitting dead in a chair with her eyes open and a man kneels by her grieving. A man is shown with a bloody gash on the side of his head. A man coughs violently and we see a blood-tinged handkerchief. A young boy pricks his finger on a cotton plant and we see a bit of blood on the finger and on the cotton as he picks it. A woman being auctioned as a slave is shown with a bruised and swollen face, lip and eyes as well as bloody wounds on her wrists presumably from shackles. Several men and women are shown with bloody wounds and clothing (presumably from beatings from their slave handlers). A man is shown with a large scar from his forehead, through his eye and onto his cheek. A man imagines holding an ear of corn that pours blood. A man collapses to the ground after having been whipped and left lashed to a wooden frame overnight. A man's shirt is blood-tinged after having been whipped on the back. A dead body is shown wrapped in cloth and two men are shown sitting by a grave site where they buried the body.
 We see a slave auction where a man stands on a stage while other men bid on him (he is missing half of one arm). A young boy has nightmares in a few scenes where he is running through dark woods and comes upon a man on his knees while scary-looking people wearing robes hide in the trees. Several children gather around and fight over a bowl of food; one boy is unable to get any and goes hungry. Several scenes show people picking cotton in fields. Two young girls play together and one is shown with a rope around her neck as the other girl holds the rope and pulls her along. A slave master on horseback cracks a whip in the air above men and women picking cotton.
 After being told that her young son can read, a mother says, "I'm gonna whip him," and another woman protests. A young boy reaches for a book on a shelf and a woman tells him, "These books are for white folks. Your kind wouldn't understand." A man talks about his slaves, "rising up." A man talks about cutting food rations for slaves who act up and disobey. We read that after having been hanged, a man was flayed and dismembered and that his flesh was made into relics and body parts were ground into wagon grease to avoid any further uprisings.
 A man vomits and we see goo coming from his mouth and nose as he gags. A man burps after drinking a glass of gin. A man drools through a metal plate strapped to his face.

PROFANITY 3 - 2 scatological terms, 1 anatomical term, 8 mild obscenities, 20 derogatory terms for African-Americans, name-calling (lazy, wenches, Yankees, bastard, cracker), 6 religious profanities (GD), 7 religious exclamations (e.g. Good Lord, Praise The Lord, Thank God, God Of Wrath). [profanity glossary]

SUBSTANCE USE - A man drinks alcohol from bottles in several scenes and appears to develop a drinking problem as time passes, many men and women drink glasses of wine with a dinner, men drink glasses of port after dinner, a man drinks from a bottle and empties it, we see several empty liquor bottles on a man's bed side table, and a man asks for a glass of gin and drinks it. A man is shown smoking a pipe in several scenes.

DISCUSSION TOPICS - Slavery, antebellum South, torture, rape, wisdom, courage, literacy, vengeance, judgment, fear, insurrection, drought, debt, faith, submission, white supremacy, destiny, bondage, freedom, obedience, blasphemy, morality, sin, good vs. evil, mutiny.

MESSAGE - Slavery is a despicable institution.

Special Keywords: S5 - V8 - P3 - MPAAR

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