12 Years a Slave

Powerful film. I was initially at a loss for words each time someone asked me what I thought of it. What do you say? It was disturbing. Gripping. Cutting even. The feeling that stayed with me throughout the film was that I couldn’t imagine for a moment the helplessness Solomon felt being plucked from his comfortable life and dropped into this horrific new reality with no way to plead his case or find justice from an outside source. It wasn’t as if he could make a phone call home or appeal to local authorities for help. The attitude of southern plantation owners did not surprise me. Most of us have been familiarized with history enough to anticipate their thinking. The same with the farm hands. Some would be more sympathetic while others were mean and hateful. The casualness of Paul Giamatti’s character when selling these people was a bit shocking though. It was the language he used when listing selling points for each of them, and how quickly he was willing to split up a mother and her children especially the way he explained the special value of the little girl. It was all a little surreal. And to think that was just 150 years ago in our civilized nation. Humanity has demonstrated a serious lack of respect for life throughout the course of history and still to this day. It is in visualizations though that it impacts us the most. It is one thing to read about it or hear about it, and quite another to see it in it’s most graphic form. ’12 Years a Slave’ reminded me a little of ‘Amistad’. Both were very detailed in their accounts of what happened. This film seemed more personal though for a reason I have not yet identified.

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