12 Years a Slave
Nothing about slavery brought us any good. During a time where the United States was still growing up, mankind still had dark age-ideals of prejudice. It was during an era of productivity where the largest of landowners sought to become the kings of their own land. Like any king, they must seek for servants. So slaves were a godsend to them. The greed of the cotton plantation or sugar cane field owners only saw slaves as a way to build personal visuals of their fortune. They see a micro nation in their backyard, but slaves could only see a prison that they accept as a way of life.
In no way would I consider slavery as progress. I would even see it as something that could have set us back for a long time if it wasn’t for the good hearted people in the North that saw a way of life as barbaric. For one man that cracks a whip, there is someone else on the other end that will attract the electric shock that is their nerves when the crack becomes too much to bear. There have been many stories on slavery, but I have to say that 12 Years a Slave gives us everything we wouldn’t want to see…true brutality.
In 1841, a free black man named Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) is happily living with his wife and two kids in New York. Never having a hard day in his life, he makes a living by laying the violin at parties. He must be good for his family to be living so comfortably. While his family is away, he’s lured into a possible touring gig by a pair of men. They wine and dine him in Washington D.C. where he passes out in a hotel. He awakens the next morning to find himself chained to a floor. He learns that he’s been drugged and sold into slavery.
He is now under the name of Platt, where he is transported to New Orleans along with other kidnapping victims. He’s sold to William Ford (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) who seems to be on good terms with Platt, as Solomon engineers a waterway to transport materials easier. He is then later sold to Edwin Epps (played by Michael Fassbender), an extremely racist cotton plantation owner who lives by abusing his workers, demanding two hundred pounds picked each, or it’s a savage beating. Solomon does what he can to avoid any confrontation, and simply find anyone that can help him.
12 Years a Slave is not a fun movie. It’s not a pleasant one. I can’t even call it a story of hope. What I can say is that 12 Years a Slave is one of the most honest movies about slavery (even matching the R.O.O.T.S. miniseries) that you’ll ever see. The story is told from Solomon’s prospective, and there is no break for this poor man. He’s simply a nice guy who was a victim of a darker time period.
The reason I cannot call this a story of hope is because of how he gets out of his slavery. I will only say that I felt he got lucky. Though I’m not a fan of the coincidence plot, it’s most effective in this kind of story that only shows that slaves got very little luck. 12 Years a Slave has some of the best ensemble acting where no one gives a bad performance. Chiwetel Ejiofor probably went through hell during the making of this movie, and he still managed to pull off one of the best acting jobs of 2013. He cannot be compared to another actor; he is simply the best Chiwetel Ejiofor.
I’ll give this five slave shackles out of five. 12 Years a Slave is not an easy watch, but I think anyone will feel better that they know a movie this brave exists. It’s dark and sad, but something that we need to see to prove that we people have made progress since then.