Film Review: 12 Years a Slave
The film â€˜Â 12 Years a Slaveâ€™Â is based on a memoir by Solomon Northup, who was an American abolitionist. [footnoteRef:1]Written in 1853, it provides a slave narrative that covers the autobiography of Africans who were enslaved in America. Steve McQueen directed the film. The film brought out different emotions, which mainly revolved around feelings of sadness and anger. What elucidated these emotions was the way that the slaves were treated. The horrible sites of people put through physical cruelty like being stripped and whipped while all the while going through much suffering as they toil for their owners can make even the strongest-hearted feel remorse. It brought sadness, considering that human beings experienced significant brutality characterized by overworking and living in derelict circumstances. What drove the emotions of anger is that the individuals saw it fit to treat other people in the way they did and took pride in their actions. [1: McQueen, Steve. 12 Years a slave. Plan B Entertainment, Regency Enterprises, Summit Entertainment, Film4 Productions. October 18, 2013. 134 minutes. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2024544/ ]
The main lesson from the film is that slaves were tools that the owners could use the way they desired. There were no limits to the mistreatment, as everything from forced labor, and torture to rape and outright killing was on the table. Another lesson is that it was possible for slaves to earn their freedom, but this was quite difficult to achieve. This is observed in the freedom that Northup and his family eventually earn. In addition, as much as slavery was legal and slave owners were generally pretty much sadistic people; there were parties such as Judge Turner (plantation owner) who were more considerate about the affairs of slaves.
From watching the film, one cannot help but pity Northup and Patsey as they go through a lot before reuniting at the end. [footnoteRef:2]They are whipped severally over the course of the film, with Patsey almost being whipped to death. Leaving Patsey behind while heading to his freedom was particularly tough on Northup. I would say I admire Northup for his resilience while facing all the troubles. He did not show self-pity or feel sorry for himself. He is the embodiment of perseverance and sustenance of the will to survive. [2: McQueen, Steve. 12 Years a slave. Plan B Entertainment, Regency Enterprises, Summit Entertainment, Film4 Productions. October 18, 2013. 134 minutes. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2024544/ ]
The fact that the film was based on a true story reveals the reality that black people faced during slavery. The history of the US is marred with devastating experiences that feature the slavery of Africans. The film depicts the true nature of treatment that they underwent while being regarded as lesser people. By utilizing an autobiographical perspective, the film’s director was able to show the different events that took place during the period, including kidnapping, maiming, and denial of basic needs to slaves. These aspects show the stark difference between then and now, as slavery was abolished soon after the time featured in the film (1853). All individuals in the US currently are accorded their full rights and freedom.
McQueen, Steve.Â 12 Years a slave.Â Plan B Entertainment, Regency Enterprises, Summit
Entertainment, Film4 Productions. October 18, 2013. 134 minutes.
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