MOVIE REVIEW: 12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave is an absorbing, fast- paced drama, based on the life and times of a freeman, Solomon Northup, who was kidnapped in New York State prior to the Civil War. Northup, a talented musician and carpenter was sold into slavery and held (“Taken,” if you will), until his rescue 12 years later by friends who produced his papers. 
12 Years a Slave is not just a another slave narrative. It has something to say that goes beyond the narrative of Roots. It is a good, strong story about the life and times of a “man” living in 1800s America. It clearly juxtaposes the lives of free Blacks and enslaved Blacks. It easily debunks the popular myth of the time, that Blacks were a “childlike,” naturally subservient people, who would not have survived without the “care” and guidance of their White masters. Rather, we are shown a Black man living a fully satisfying life, who is equal to Whites in the 1800s, prior to his enslavement. We are shown a Black man whose humanity is never questionable. We are presented with the story of a man who was “Taken” while Black. A man who maintained his humanity as he endured unimaginable atrocities. A man who knew who he was, who did not rely on the opinions of others for his self-esteem. We are shown a loving, Black patriarchal family. We are shown a man who was determined to survive.
This is not the story of a down-trodden slave. Solomon Northup is like the North Star, showing us how to live, no matter what. 
This movie is not your cookie-cutter slave movie. It does not demean, nor limit Blacks. Rather, it shows how the system of slavery was unable to crush God given human potential. 
And, this movie is not a guilt trip for Whites. A full range of good and evil, along with fear, is presented.
I highly recommend this Oscar worthy movie to people of all races and nationalities. It covers both man’s inhumanity to man, as well as the strength and resilience of the human spirit. 
******
Reviewed by Jan McAdoo

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