12 Years a Slave
THE ANGER OF AMERICAN SLAVERY is not the fact that it happened; it’s from the fact that the attitude of those in power is to forget it, blow it off (much like how Germany does with the Hitler era), shove it under a rug, & accuse people who are aware that they are “stuck in the past”. Interestingly, no one’s ever accused of being “stuck in the past” when it comes to any other historical reference, such as Pearl Harbor, Lincoln, The Patriot, and so on.
This movie, is magnificent in it’s make. For those who say they are tired of the “slavery movies”, I say with the utmost sincerity: I feel sorry for you.
First off, the actors. This movie has me thoroughly convinced that this is Chiwetel Ejiofor’s TIME. The way he brought life to the character (and real life historical figure) Solomon Northup, was breath taking. Sure you can ask a person to act, “give me sad” and watch them make a sad face. Complex emotions, such as futility, is far more difficult to conjure. Ejiofor nails it. There were I Am Legend style moments of isolation & silence that places you into the mind of a free man forced into slavery. The creativity of torture was endless; the terror inflicted on men, women and children was made to touch you at the core, being that the scenes of degradation and violence were made long and gruesome.
Michael Fassbender — an actor that many will recognize as a young Magneto in X-Men First Class — is a man who can really bring life into a difficult character to portray. Fassbender plays the part of Edwin Epps who, based on the eponymous 1853 autobiography, is the most cruel and twisted Slaver he’s dealt with. Edwin Epps is a total monster; a slave holding cotton southern aristocrat who is a belligerent drunk who, also has a twisted love for a slave he owns and systematically rapes… which is something that he cannot come to terms with. This is made worse when his wife, a frustrated envious woman takes ALL of her wrath out on the slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), the object of Edwin’s deranged lust.
Now, trust me when I tell you that I understand the difficulty white men have when it comes to realistically accepting any dialogue that slavery existed as it did in America. With that said, I commend Michael Fassbender (as well as Leonardo DiCaprio) for NOT denying and rejecting historical fact and doing their best to display, no, to become — these slavers on film.
The movie was breathtaking; there’s a structure of dissonance with the beautiful southern back drops with the milky willow trees, blue, peach-blood and purple skies… stolen from American Indians… stained and watered by the blood of the Afro-American on a daily basis. There was a part where Solomon Northup thought to escape, only to witness the lynching of two black males ranging from the ages from 12 to 36 — presumably being murdered for running away — enough to realize the futility and terror of the notion.
The word nigga
Yeah, I said it without the -er suffix and this is where I get a little socio-political. As you might have guessed, I never been a big fan of the word, nor have I sung the bullshit argument in support of blacks saying it. This movie, if you were to watch and listen to it, illustrates why. These are things I’ve always known, but I HOPE that anyone else who doesn’t know this fact absorbs it by the time the credits are rolling.
There’s no fucking difference between nigger and nigga. In fact, it’s always been “nigga” due to the fact that Ebonics is based on a Southern American dialect anyway. It’s categorically absurd to lie to one’s self and claim that all racist whites pronounce the word with a proper -er suffix and then proclaim that the one with the -a at the end is your own. They say it like how we do. Nigga. Every last one of them. It’s the south, they speak like we speak, there’s no difference between the Ebonics version and the white southern aristocrat one. They are the same damn word.
Solomon Northup was a very intelligent man. Although he disagreed with slavery, he didn’t consider himself to be up for grabs, literally. Boy was he wrong. All it took was a set of people who pretended to respect him, and all the education and respect in the world can’t save him from the evils of racism, capitalism, and greed. No one cared he was smart. No one cared to hear his real name. He was black and that was a good enough reason for him to be treated as property.
Even though he eventually got his freedom, there was still the pain of not being about to save the others, which is something many of us can relate to modern day. I highly suggest viewing this movie. If your theater isn’t playing it anymore, be sure to buy the video.
Five out of five stars.