The Song In ‘The Birth Of A Nation’ Trailer Is A Powerful Look At Our Nation's Past — VIDEO
It goes without saying that most movie trailers are incredibly powerful. That’s sort of the point of movie trailers: They make a lasting impact on the viewer so that people everywhere will be intrigued enough to see the movie when it is released for mass consumption. But the first trailer for The Birth of a Nation goes beyond powerful. This trailer is making audiences feel something else altogether. And maybe it’s because there’s something incredible happening in this trailer — so incredible, in fact, that the world has been abuzz ever since its premiere at CinemaCon on Thursday. Part of what makes this trailer so amazing definitely has to do with the song playing in it. But what is the song in The Birth of a Nation trailer? Well, it’s not just any song. It’s an incredibly moving melody, one that seems perfectly written for The Birth of a Nation.
But the song in the trailer was not written for the movie. Instead, it was written in 1930 and made famous by Billie Holiday. But this version of “Strange Fruit” is sung by the legendary Nina Simone. Her version has a slightly slower cadence, more haunting vocals, and some different instruments that make it even more stunning than the original version. The song, as Nina Simone said in an interview, deals very directly with “the black and white problem” in our country.
At first glance, the song seems to be about what is on the surface: trees in the south and the fruit that they bare. But there’s more here than meets the eye. Although the song never mentions it explicitly, when you listen to it within the political context in which the song was written, the lyrics become painfully suggestive of the horrors of lynching and the destruction of black bodies. In fact, the man who wrote the song was inspired to after seeing a photo of a lynching in 1930.
For a movie that is about the slave uprisings in the 1930s, there doesn’t seem to be a more appropriate song. It’s a hard song to listen to, but one that only adds to the power of this trailer.
Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures