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Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property

Directed by Charles Burnett
United States, 2003


The story and legacy of the enigmatic leader of the notorious 1831 homicidal slave revolt in Virginia, along with reviews of works about him, are explored; twentieth century civil rights discussed and cultural relativism mentioned.

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Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property Directed by Charles Burnett

Critics reviews

It remains a startlingly radical enterprise. Burnett interrogates Gray’s account, Styron’s 1967 novel The Confessions of Nat Turner, and a host of other historical sources… There is nothing accidental about this fluidity; Turner’s story invites, and is enlarged by, contestation. The brilliance of the film—and its value as a teaching tool—comes from its insight that historiography is no mere pedagogue’s method, but our essential means of reclaiming and understanding Turner’s contradictions.
December 16, 2016
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Burnett is one of the greatest and most thoughtful American filmmakers, but the 13-year-old A Troublesome Property is, staggeringly, his last movie to receive distribution in this country. The film shows that his voice is needed as much now as ever, and if it’s not exactly a corrective to Parker’s movie, it’s an essential accompaniment—or, for those with qualms about supporting Nate Parker, a more than adequate substitution.
October 14, 2016
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This is what’s daring about Nat Turner—it doesn’t attempt to persuade us that any of these separate versions of Turner is true. It’s interested only in showing us where each came from. So the artificiality is deliberate when Tom Nowicki, playing Gray, turns to the camera to address us directly, while the great Carl Lumbly (who also played the title role in Nightjohn, another Burnett film about slavery) is visible as Turner in the jail cell behind him.
February 23, 2007
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