At a time when Blaxploitation was THE ONLY representation of black life on screen, Alex Haley's mini-series Roots (1977 ABC), reawakened the collective Black conscious to the atrocities forced upon African Ancestors through the European Atlantic Slave Trade.
Though Roots was a landmark accomplishment, 12 Years a Slave catapults the unresolved legacy of enslavement into public discourse once again. The film is a fresh take on enslavement in a contemporary American context that some refer to as post-racial, simply because the Commander in Chief is Black. Many folks felt compelled to get online complaining that they are tired of seeing films about Slavery. However, Hollywood produces hundreds of films per year, many of those films are Period films about European's historical experience. No one complains about the number of films depicting the ironclad European war hero of antiquity or any film perpetuating the white male savior for that matter. The sentiment of exhaustion may be a result of the lack of variety in Black images and film representation, but nevertheless 12 Years a Slave is exceptional.
The cast, well... all but one (Adepero Oduye who portrayed Eliza), gives a phenomenal performance, the direction is both figurative and artful. The script is an adaptation from the pages of Solomon Northrup's non-fictional memoir of the same name. Mr. Northrup's horrific tale of abduction and humiliation sheds light on the complexity of the seemingly insurmountable predicament many enslaved people faced. Solomon Northrup, an educated, free man is coaxed into believing that he is being hired for his talent as a musician only to be bamboozled, beatened, blind-folded and sold into slavery.
If for no other reason, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong'o, Micheal Fassbender and director Steve McQueen's brilliance are four excellent incentives to see this film.
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong'o, Micheal Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Brad Pitt
Length: 133 mins
Origin: North America
Director: Steve McQueen interview
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender Interview