A heart-wrenching and brutal look at our nation’s greatest atrocity.
To experience 12 Years a Slave is to be increasingly uncomfortable, to be horrified, to weep, and to ache for human suffering and mankind’s history of inhumanity to others.
This is the masterfully-told true story of Solomon Northup, a black man born free in the North, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South. This unrelenting and unflinching story may just be about the tragedy of one man’s life, yes. But it acts as a grieving over the millions of tragedies to men, women, and children just like his.
Did we need another movie about slavery? Maybe not. but do we really need movies about anything? 12 Years a Slave is an excruciatingly authentic picture of tragedy, death, life, and needless human suffering. As the credits rolled, there was not a dry eye in the house. Not because we felt deeply for a character. But because we resonated with and felt deeply for a fellow human being. For entire generations persecuted merely for the color of their skin.
12 Years a Slave is one of those films that transcends being simply a “movie.” It is an experience that one has, wondering “how could this have happened?”, vowing to treasure human life, and grieving alongside entire generations ripped of their very lives. It is increasingly uncomfortable to watch as an entire society excuses away such horrible cruelty, but oftentimes the things we need to experience and be reminded of most are uncomfortable.
12 Years a Slave is an incredibly moving film that is unafraid to force its audience to look our nation’s greatest atrocity straight in the eye, demanding to be seen for what it truly was. It is unapologetically brutal, it is cruel, and it is heartbreaking. But it could be no other way.
12 Years a Slave is rated R for violence. It features some extreme acts of violence due to its authentic look at slavery, and for this reason it is not a good idea for viewers who are not mature enough to understand its historical context.
© Matt Tory, 2013.