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12 Years A Slave (2013)
Reportedly the son of a freed slave, former farmer turned for-hire carpenter and violinist Solomon Northup was freeborn in 1808 in Essex County, New York. Educated and married, yet lured from the protection of regional abolitionism by the promise of well-paid work in Washington, DC, he was kidnapped in his early 30s, renamed Platt and wrongfully branded a runaway slave. Northup was subsequently "returned" to the Deep South and sold as property into a world completely alien to his own, unable to contact his family or friends back home.
To put Solomon Northup's life in US historical context, he was born 184 years after the birth of William Tucker, a Jamestown, Virginia slave known to have been the first black child born in America. 12 years after Northup reclaimed his freedom and published his book, the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution abolished slavery in that country in 1865.
Speaking of that, director Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln (2012) definitely could have cut its screenplay mostly depicting the academic, intellectual exercise of enacting the Thirteenth Amendment with a dose of what was personally and emotionally at stake from the viewpoint of those plantation slaves Northup's freedom left behind.
12 Years A Slave isn't immediately
the type of movie that's easy to rave about. It's not an enjoyable
popcorn flick in any manner similar to what a typical sweeping
epic or dramatic adventure might serve up. I'm not complaining.
I'm glad this screening wasn't a fun time at the movies. It's
harsh, and appropriately hard to watch. 12 Years A Slave seamlessly
transports a contemporary audience back to what most could really
only imagine the last decades of slavery in America were actually
like. Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt captures this world with an
impeccable eye for detail. Not of the Old South from Classic
Hollywood or tidy modern anachronism, though. Bobbitt and Director
Steve McQueen unflinchingly take you to America's horrifying
and traumatizing age of ignorance and brutality against humanity.
A time when black people were bought and sold and often worked
to death by white people. It's sickening to watch as presented
here. As it should be, knowing 12 Years A Slave is for the most
part based on historic fact... (Read
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