Slavery on film: Blood on the leaves

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The road to Brexit

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Slavery on film



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The unquenchable fire

The unquenchable fire

THE road from Hattie McDaniel’s turn as Mammy in “Gone with The Wind”, which earned her an Oscar in 1940, to “12 Years a Slave”, which won Best Picture in 2014, was long and steep. Mammy is the epitome of Hollywood’s old, morally purblind plantation mythology; Steve McQueen’s film strove to capture slavery’s incessant terrors. “The Birth of a Nation”, which is released this week, asks audiences to make another interpretive leap: to see that, since slavery was evil, it was legitimate, even righteous, for slaves to rise up against their tormentors. It raises questions about the past’s grip on the present, about injustice and redemption, but in more than the intended way.
“The Birth of a Nation” retells the story of Nat Turner, leader of a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831. That title, appropriated from D.W. Griffith’s …

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Slavery on film: Blood on the leaves