Review of a Troublesome Property by Nat Turner
It is a film about a critical moment in American history and of the multiple ways in which that moment has since been remembered. Nat Turner was a "troublesome property" for his master and he has remained a "troublesome property" for the historians, novelists, dramatists, artists and many others who have struggled to understand him.
As a result, Slave owners were forced to compromise with the slaves; allowing slaves to report to work after sunrise and to work under less-immediate supervision than other plantations had. Gang systems were also implemented to increase the efficiency and productivity of the workers. Nevertheless, many slaves were performing poorly, resulting in the decision of severe punishments and threats of being sold. When that failed they resorted to positive inducements which included; extra days off during the holidays, additional food allotments, additional free time, or money.
Interviews with historians and writers like Henry Louis Gates, Louise Meriwether, Eric Foner, and Styron himself examine the way Turner's image and importance has evolved over the years, depending on the zeitgeist and who was telling his story. Burnett even includes himself in this legacy, revealing behind-the-scenes footage of this very film.