12 Years a Slave Review
12 years a slave is an Oscar-winning movie produced in 2013. The movie is based on the actual accounts of Solomon a former slave who had been freed by his friends (McQueen, 2013). It was first published in 1853 when this man had been released from the bondage. He gave all the accounts of the slave traders involved in his capture and the location of the slave pens. This film is a testimony to the enduring hope and determination as well as the power of human spirit. Solomon went through all the ordeal of abuse, isolation, kidnapping, robbed identity, beating, emotional abuse, physical and psychological torture to force him into submission.
The story is set in the period when the blacks were held as slaves in the US. It is a true story of a man who is forced to fight for his freedom hence his survival in the society where the white masters would do anything to make a black man a slave. This was the American society before the Civil War. Solomon Northup is initially a free man living in the upstate New York. Unfortunately, he is abducted and sold out as a slave. He is subjected to cruelty by his new owner Michael Fassbender.
Solomon is faced with the difficulty of fighting to stay alive as well as to redeem his dignity that had been taken away the moment he was sold into slavery. He spends 12 years under the dominion of his slave owner who does with him as he pleases including humiliation and hard labor. His lucky star came only later in 1853 when his friends from the north rescued him. The part of the movie that shows prejudice and stereotype is when Solomon was abducted by the two men. Even though Solomon had been the son of a slave, he was born free. Solomon goes through an unforgettable experience that followed his kidnapping.
He was married with two children by the time he was being kidnapped in 1841. Solomon was a talented player of the violin which he used to earn a living for his family. The two men who abducted him had deceived him that they had a lucrative offer of playing the instrument in a circus. He joined them on the journey to Washington, D.C where they kidnapped and sold him to a slave owner in Louisiana’s Red River Region.
He exchanged hands from one slave master to another and was sold as a property on the market. This section is not just about the life of Solomon as a slave, but it’s rather an account of the experiences that the African Americans went through as slaves in the US, especially in the South. During this period, the northern states had instituted laws to abolish the vice which remained very active in the south.
The story of Solomon highlights the physical, emotional and psychological abuse to which the slaves were subjected (Fountain, 2010). The purpose of this section was to remind all generations of the moral cost that slavery had placed on our shoulders.
The slaves were degraded and devalued to the worth of a common item of possession. They were subjected to torments and awful suffering by the masters. The cruelty exercised on them took away any emotional, physical or spiritual riches that they could possess as human beings. The slave was treated worse than the animals.
This treatment was meant to torment the slaves; however, the effects were very traumatizing even to the slave traders. Their role in the act exposed them to emotional desensitization and emotional degradation. The legacy of such a man would be robbed of the human virtues like integrity, justice and love (Rodriguez, 2007).
Despite all these dehumanizing experiences, his spirit remained unbroken. His worst sorrowful moments in the home of Edwin Epps, he remained strong, despite several attempts to break him. He did not for once give up his hope of freedom. He believed that just a word to his friends in the north would get him free. His faith and hope triumphed all the sorrows and horrors he had gone through.
One of the stereotypes that come out in this section is that the African American man was a docile and simple-minded person. The two capturers of Solomon from the circus company saw Solomon as a simple minded person because he was African. This prejudice comes out in when the two men deceived Solomon into joining them to Washington. D.C to play the instrument.
At the back of their mind, they were convinced that he was gullible because he was a black man thus his intelligence level could not match that of a white person. The prejudice that appears in the same section is the decision by these two men to take away this black man and sell him as a slave.
The white people at that time only saw the blacks as nothing more than a slave. The two men on meeting Solomon, they did no see a violin player who could add value to their shows; instead, he was a slave who was not supposed to be living freely like this man. Their actions were based on the prejudice that the black man was a slave and under no circumstance would he be free.
McQueen. S (2013) Twelve Years a Slave. Film
Fountain. D. L (2010) Slavery, Civil War, and Salvation: African American Slaves and Christianity, 1830-1870. Baton Rounge. Louisiana State University Press.
Rodriguez, J. P. (2007). Slavery in the United States: A social, political, and historical encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.