Here we go again, yet another film about slavery that depicts the hardships that many African Americans had to endure during the height of the slave trade. A situation that is nothing to laugh about, yet I cannot stop myself from rolling my eyes in utter despair? No, it is not despair that I feel, perhaps a sense of disappointment.
With award season slowly coming and going, 12 Years a slave has garnered numerous accolades for its portrayal of a man that was unwillingly thrust into slavery. Granted, it takes a brave actor and actress to truthfully expose the inhumane practices that took place in the South of America during the 1800’s.
I will admit I have a personal vendetta against films that depict racism or slavery. I concede that it is a part of our history that should not be forgotten, a scar that should remind us of the turbulent times we have faced and how far we have come. However, there is something that irks me about films such as this. Why is it, that it takes films like 12 years a slave to remind us that humans are often so cruel to each other? Do not take my words as those coming from an insensitive individual, I grow up in a world and country that praised the actions and sacrifices of individuals such as Nelson Mandela, my question rather is – Why do films such as 12 Years a slave, Django Unchained and Mandela garner so much attention?
Now, these are the thoughts that run through my mind as I read the numerous social media comments and endless positive reviews of this “amazing” film. Curiosity is a strange thing, and I unwillingly dragged myself to the nearest cinema. Watching the film was a hard pill to swallow, mainly because my initial thoughts were completely incorrect.
12 Years a slave truly deserves the accolades that it is receiving right now. I have never watched a film that has allowed me to delve into the emotional rawness of an individual, feel the pain of a character while admiring the pure aesthetic of the film. There are no words in the English language to describe the brilliance with which Chiwetel Ejiofor (Solomon Northup) and Michael Fassbender (Edwin Epps) have portrayed these characters. If theses remarkable actors, along with this remarkable film, do not swoop in and grab all the Oscar glory I will truly be surprised and disappointed.
I might sound like a novice after uttering these words, but I have never heard the name Steve McQueen before this film (well the director anyway). I am sure that millions have stood up and take notice, including myself. The method with which the film is directed and edited compliments the sympathy that you undoubtedly feel for the characters. Even the deranged and cruel Master Epps garners a slice from the sympathy cake. Judging by how this film has turned out, and the reception it has received, there is perhaps no other director or actors (including the gorgeous Lupita Nyong’o) that could have made this film what it is.
Having said all of this; do yourself a favour and go and watch this film, you might learn something about history, and yourself.