12 Years a Slave – Movie 2013

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I finally got around to watching 12 Years a Slave, the movie adaptation of the book by the same name.  The first two copies which I requested from the library were scratched, so I couldn’t watch the entire movie.  Copy number three was the charm.

Just to review, this is the story of Solomon Northup, a free man from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South.  If you want to know more about the specifics of the story, check out my book review.  The movie follows the book quite closely.  There were a few changes, most of them minor and not detracting from the main story at all.  Of course some things needed to be condensed to keep the length of the movie reasonable.  A benefit to watching the movie over the book is that you lose the old-fashioned language in which the book is written.  The movie emphasizes the events, so you don’t get bogged down with the dated and sometimes awkward language.

My thoughts:

I think that this movie was done wonderfully well.  It’s such a heartbreaking story and that is exactly what it does to you when you watch it–it breaks your heart.  The actors were phenomenal–even the ones you hate do a great job in their role.  Chiwetel Ejiofor, the actor who played Solomon was amazing.  I fully felt that he was Solomon and thought that he conveyed the complex feelings of the character realistically.

There are a few things I should warn you about if you are thinking of seeing this movie.  The dehumanizing and violent treatment of the slaves is very disturbing.  There are a few scenes of graphic violence which show blood spraying and the skin split open from whippings.  There are also a couple of hanging scenes.  I had to unfocus my eyes a few times because I couldn’t bear to just sit there and look at that for more than a couple of seconds.

12 Years a Slave is emotionally raw and it will leave you feeling that way by the end of the movie.  Of course I cried.  You’d have to be a stone not to.  Although it’s painful to watch this type of movie, I think it’s our duty to try and more fully understand the history of our country–even the ugly parts.  We have to learn from our past mistakes.

I highly recommend this movie to adults.

Possible Objections:

  • Nudity
  • A couple of sexual scenes
  • Foul language, including racial epithets
  • Violence, some of it quite graphic

Rated: R

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…