12 Years a Slave is a movie about a free black man from New York named Solomon Northup who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1840s. The film shows Solomonís life on the plantations in Louisiana where he worked for 12 years before finding freedom again. The movie is based on a true story written by the real Solomon Northup.
This is one of the most powerful movies I have seen in recent years. It is not afraid to show the reality of slavery in America. While watching the movie, I couldnít help but think about think about modern times. What really drove this movie home for me is the fact that slavery still exists today. It may not look exactly the same, but itís still out there, and people are still being treated as lesser beings. People are still being kidnapped, still being held against their will, still being forced to work in unsavory conditions, still being beaten, still being taunted and ridiculed, still being raped and abused. This movie reminded me of that so vividly.
It also reminded me that race relations in the United States are still no where where they ought to be. Racism has not magically gone away. Itís still an ugly force driving relationships in our country and people are still dying and being imprisoned because of it.
Full disclosure: the movie is rated R, and for good reason. There is a lot of material that is not suitable for children, and that could be triggering for many adults as well. There is violence (including against women), nudity, rape, some sexual activity, language (particularly use of the ďNĒ word), torture, and all-around intense material. The subject, slavery, should be a good indication that there will be material that many will struggle with, so be sure that before you watch this movie, you are aware that there is a fair amount of disagreeable content and that youíre prepared for it.
Despite its intensity, or perhaps because of it, 12 Years a Slave is a beautiful movie. I highly recommend it to those interested in learning more about slavery, or to anyone who enjoys a good movie.
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Note: I completed this review using a copy of the film that I own.