12 Years A Slave, Was Hard To Watch

Cast of 12 Years A Slave/photo: firstshowing.net
Cast of 12 Years A Slave/photo: firstshowing.net

Going to see this movie was one of anticipation, because it was autobiographical.  Having said that, it was very graphic and its images disturbing.   The movie takes place in an unsettling time in American history, when free slave labor was encouraged to build this country and ubiquitous in the south, and, since most people understand the antebellum of slavery in the early 1800’s, I don’t have to go over the atrocities done by slave owner’s in that day.

What I do want to convey is that it is always good to see a movie based on a true story, and told by the man who was ensnared into this slavery.

Not just slavery but was a free African American man who was kidnapped into it, after being free for his life up to the kidnapping.  Solomon Northup, was his name, and he was a free man living in New York earning his living as a musician.   As he was well known for his violin playing, he was offered a job working for a circus for a few weeks to earn a lot of money.  He was thinking at the time of his family, but a little greedy and insensitive, to enslaved black people around him.  When people are motivated by money it can complicate things and allow for poor judgement, which is what happened here.   However, it was very hard to see the harm in his decision, to take the job in foresight, because he was so well liked and revered in his community.

Pride can be a humbling emotion, which can come before a fall, and that in my opinion is what this story was about.  In a sense, forgetting your place at that time, and not being mindful of the injustices going on around you.  Which, in hindsight became quite clear and personal.  A blog I just read said it best…

While the number of evil Southern White folks depicted in the film were many, it is important to note that the filmmakers did not use broad brush strokes to suggest that all White people were the enemy. The innocent and the guilty came in all colors and the complexity within the relationships between Black and White was well documented.” Lori Tharps, BlogHer.com

The actor’s were excellent, the direction was spot on and the screenplay moved the story without getting redundant.  This movie get’s an A, even though it’s one of the hardest movies I’ve watched about this topic since Amistad, which I walked out of when it came out years ago.  This story was hard to watch in moving images, because of the sheer inhumane premise, that black people were considered animals, and had no right to ask nor hope that they would or should get help for their predicament.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Salt, Endgame, who played Northup, was so good at emoting and conveying the relentless pain on his face, it really seemed like he was a slave, it didn’t seem like acting.  Also, Michael Fassbender, The Counselor, Shame, had his acting pants on for this role, and convinced me he was a slave owner.   Steve McQueen, Shame, Hunger, the director, a British black man was excellent at telling this story, and John Ridley writing the screenplay also of color, gave the story even more relevance.

It really was an honor watching this film, with its first hand perspective, told on-screen by someone of color who may have experienced his own a smidgen of racism in a predominately white industry, in the past.  Much like The Butler, it’s important for black filmmakers to get an opportunity to tell the black story of slavery its been a long time coming, and I’m glad I got to see it for myself first hand.

There are a few more honorable mentions, as far as new comer actors, although, I will only mention one, Patsey played by, Lupita Nyong’o, should get an Oscar nod for being the unsung hero of the movie, she was brilliant.  Also, there are ***Safety Alerts*** all over this movie, from the beatings, rapes, and the infamous N word.   It was very raw and in your face, but very much a movie worth seeing, and somehow not as overbearing as Django Unchained.   Perhaps because it was based on a true story, by someone who was really there.  This movie is rated R, for violence and disturbing images. Shazza ~ Musings&Rants

11 thoughts on “12 Years A Slave, Was Hard To Watch

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful review. I think I would have a hard time sitting through this film, not because it is good, but because of the reality of the times it portrays is very hard to wrap my mind around. It makes me wonder what kind of person I would have been if I had lived in this time.


    • Yes believe me this was a hard one to sit through, I knew it would be, because the director usually does pretty raw stuff. But, as hard as it was to watch, it was an excellent that it didn’t paint everyone one as the enemy. Thanks for the comment can’t wait to see more of your animal photos. Blessings.


      • I found the acting on the part of those who played the slavers even more compelling and convincing than Solomon’s. I appreciate your highlighting his complacency before the kidnapping. There’s a lesson there for us all. Nothing in the tangible world is guaranteed.


      • Yes that’s true, we should never take things for granted. You’re right about that, the slavers did have to play their roles just right or it wouldn’t have seemed real. I love that you always take a different perspective, that I didn’t think of. Thanks D.


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