The Birth Of A Nation

Synopsis: Nat Turner is an enslaved Baptist preacher who lives on a Virginia plantation owned by Samuel Turner. With rumors of insurrection in the air, a cleric convinces Samuel that Nate should sermonize to other slaves, thereby quelling any notions of an uprising. As Nate witnesses the horrific treatment of his fellow man, he realizes that he can no longer just stand by and preach. On Aug. 21, 1831, Turner's quest for justice and freedom leads to a violent and historic rebellion in Southampton County.
Production: Fox Searchlight Pictures
  4 wins & 26 nominations.
 
IMDB:
6.4
Metacritic:
69
Rotten Tomatoes:
72%
R
Year:
2016
120 min
$15,849,340
1,736 Views


.

FADE IN:

EXT. DISMAL SWAMP - NIGHT 2

Moonlight sifts through the tall pines, illuminating the fog-

blanketed marsh.

CHILD’S VOICE (V.O.)

But the white man, he catched her.

Catched her an’ throwed her to the

ground...

Through the boscage, two shrouded figures emerge, pacingstealthily through the brush.

CHILD’S VOICE (V.O.)

But he ain’t know that another man,

big like my daddy was behind him...

CLOSER to reveal the shadowed features of an African WOMAN.

She pulls a YOUNG BOY alongside her-both of whom’s featureswe cannot yet clearly see.

CHILD’S VOICE (V.O.)

He took a big ol’ stick and hit

that white man all about his head

with it...

INT. SLAVE QUARTERS - NANA’S CABIN - (NIGHT) 3

Three SLAVE CHILDREN sit together under candle light. Theywear long TOW SHIRTS that reach to their knees. The smallest,

YOUNG NAT TURNER (9) continues as the two others listen rapt.

YOUNG NAT:

Then they dug a hole, roll him init and walked on back.

An UNKNOWN POV watches from outside the cracked cabin door.

One of the other slave children, YOUNG HARK (10) pipes up.

(CONTINUED)

5/8/15 - PINK 2

CONTINUED:
3 CONTINUED: 3

SLAVE CHILD:

They got lynched?

YOUNG NAT:

Naw. They went on back and didn'tnever say nothing on it.

(he giggles)

Say they ain’t seen master all day.

The cabin door opens to reveal NANCY TURNER (20’s). She

regards Nat, spooked.

NANCY:

Who told you that?

No answer. She rushes to him, grabs him hard by the arm.

NANCY (CONT’D)

You tell me who told you that rightnow, ‘fo I tan your hide!

YOUNG NAT:

Nobody, mama. I just... remember-

Nat winces against her grip, terrified. His eyes flood. Nancyreleases her grip, pulls him into a hug. Her eyes mist.

NANCY:

I’m sorry...

4 OMITTED 4 *

5 EXT. DISMAL SWAMP - CLEARING - NIGHT 5

Nancy and Nat step into the clearing to find a group ofELDERLY AFRICANS huddled around a humble fire in fervent

prayer. Among the elders, we find EZEKIEL (90’s). As if

sensing their arrival, his eyes open. He motions themforward. Ezekiel speaks in his Native Ghanaian tongue. *

EZEKIEL:

(Remove his garb.)

(CONTINUED)

5 CONTINUED:

5/8/15 - PINK 3

5

Nat looks terrified as Nancy removes his shirt. Ezekielinspects Nat’s arms and back before arriving to his chest.

The Elders nudge in, the mouthing of passionate prayer never

ceasing. Ezekiel points a thin finger to the boy’s sternum.

ANGLE ON THREE SLIGHTLY RAISED KNOTS.

*

EZEKIEL (CONT’D)

(In the time of our ancestors, thecycle of our people lay in thehands of the children... A man’s

position was left to the signs ofthe maker. Children bearing markswere presented before counsel. Itwas there they were given theirassignments in the tribe-

assignments that would last alifetime...)

He points to the first bump on the Nat’s chest.

EZEKIEL (CONT’D)

(Wisdom...)

(the second bump)

(Courage...)

(the third)

(Vision...)

(a long beat)

(This boy holds the Holy marks ofour ancestors past... He was bornto be a prophet.)

At the word PROPHET, the surrounding Elders’ bodies arch and

rock, the intensity of their prayers growing to fever pitch.

We PUSH IN on Nat as he struggles to digest the magnitude ofhis words. CLOSER. As divine exaltation fills the surroundingblur, we-

CUT TO BLACK:

SUPER:
BASED ON A TRUE STORY

6 INT. BARN/SLAVE CHURCH - DAY 6

Sunlight cuts through crooked slats, casting golden linesacross the dirt floor. Whispers lead toward a corner where wefind SEVERAL SHADOWED FIGURES crouched in the darkness. *

(CONTINUED)

6 CONTINUED:

5/8/15 - PINK 4

6

Their whispers cease when SOMETHING crosses outside,

disrupting the light.

The broad barn door creeks open. An ugly shadow tracks acrossthe barn floor. We drift up to reveal-

JOHN CLARKE TURNER (10, white)

His eyes snap toward a movement in the dark. He smiles big-

JOHN CLARKE:

I see you!

7 EXT. BARN/SLAVE CHURCH - DAY 7

Giggling children, burst from the barn door, as John Clarkgives chase. We lock in on Young Nat as he sprints ahead ofthe group.

SUPER:
SOUTHAMPTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA, 1809

8 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - BIG HOUSE - DAY 8

We follow him, as he passes the TURNER MANSION-

9 EXT. SLAVE QUARTERS - DAY 9

He cuts through the SLAVE QUARTERS, dodging a MALE BLACKSMITH

SLAVE who shapes a piece of metal with a hammer, passes aMALE SLAVE leading a trudging mule and races through a plume

of steam rising from a FEMALE SLAVE COOK’s massive pot.

*

*

*

*

10 OMITTED 10 *

11 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - BIG HOUSE - DAY 11

John Clarke stands in the courtyard resigned. He offers afinal scan of the plantation.

JOHN CLARKE:

Nat!

(no response)

All right, you win again! Come onout!

(CONTINUED)

11 CONTINUED:

5/8/15 - PINK 5

11

Several moments pass before Nat emerges. He and John Clarkeshare a smile asWOMAN’S

VOICE (O.S.)

John Clarke!

ELIZABETH TURNER (40’s) exits onto the ‘Big House’ porch.

ELIZABETH TURNER

Get in here for supper.

JOHN CLARKE:

Yes’m! Bye Nat.

YOUNG NAT:

Bye.

Nat watches as John Clarke bounds the porch stairs. He andElizabeth disappear inside.

Nat lingers a moment, his eyes fixing on a hardcover BOOKdraped on the back of a rocking chair.

12 OMITTED 12 *

13 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - BIG HOUSE - DAY 13

On the porch, the wooden rocking chair rocks lazily. Thehardcover book, gone.

14 EXT. SLAVE QUARTERS - MEAL HOUSE - DAY 14

Nat arrives to a long table overcrowded with slave children,

each holding a SHELL. A SLAVE MAN approaches, drops a LARGEBOWL of CORNMUSH at the table’s center. As the children surgescooping at the mush, Nat struggles to push his way through.

Within seconds, the kids disperse, leaving Nat in front of anempty bowl.

ANGLE ON:

(CONTINUED)

14 CONTINUED:

5/8/15 - PINK 6

14

-a slave man across the courtyard. This is ISAAC TURNER. Aleather apron shields his chest and legs as he wields ahammer over a hot scrap of iron. He watches as Nat meanders

away.

15 INT. SLAVE QUARTERS - NANA’S CABIN - NIGHT 15 *

Isaac enters, caked in dirt and sweat. Bridget, Nancy and Natlie asleep. Isaac hovers over a bucket of water in a nearcorner. As he rinses his face a soft MOAN rises from Nat’s

direction.

Isaac studies Nat a beat before grabbing a small wooden boxfrom a shelf. Within, he finds a CRUMPLED SQUARE OF PAPER. He

smooths it against his leg, before slipping out the cabin.

A long beat until- Nat stirs awake, sits up.

16 EXT. WOODS - OLD ROAD - NIGHT 16

Isaac pushes through the woods, staying close to the mainroad. A SOUND in the distances stops him in his tracks. Hegrips a bulky stash under his shirt as he squints into thedark. As his eyes focus on a shadowed figure ahead-

CLICK.

He turns to find three men, THE PATTY-ROLLERS, atop horses.

They’re dressed similarly in worn pea coats, each coat

bearing a dull BRASS STAR. RAYMOND COBB (40’s, the leader)

holds a pistol leveled at Isaac’s head.

*

*

*

COBB:

You so much as bat your eyes I’ll

blow you from here to hell.

Isaac stands frozen as he takes in the group of three men.

COBB (CONT’D)

What you doin’ out here, boy?

ISAAC:

Runnin’ a errand for my massa, suh.

Massa Benjamin Turner.

He opens his shirt to reveal CANNED GOODS and SALT PORK.

COBB:

Where yo’ pass at?

Isaac produces a piece of paper we recognize as the CRUMPLEDSQUARE from the cabin. He hands it to Cobb who studies it. *

*

Rate this script:5.0 / 1 vote

Nate Parker & Jean Celestin

Nate Parker is an American actor, director, producer, writer, and musical performer who has appeared in Beyond the Lights, Red Tails, The Secret Life of Bees, The Great Debaters, Arbitrage, Non-Stop, Felon, and Pride. more…

All Nate Parker & Jean Celestin scripts | Nate Parker & Jean Celestin Scripts

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