12 Years a Slave is by far the heaviest and most emotional movie I saw in 2013. It takes on the ugliest period of American history in the most raw and uncomfortable way I have ever seen on film, all while telling the story of Solomon Northup, a free man abducted and thrown into slavery. This movie has made some viewers uneasy or upset and the term “torture porn” has even been thrown around. Personally, I strongly disagree with those people, because if you are going to make a movie about a horrific time in American history, you have every right as a director or writer to make it has historically accurate as possible. Watching what our ancestors did to each other is hard and most people don’t want to have visual images of it in their heads. If that’s the case for you, then don’t watch this movie. If you can get past that and appreciate this movie for what it is, you will really enjoy it as weird as that sounds.
This fairly unknown story is extremely well told, the acting is fantastic, and the eye-opening learning experience the film provides is a rarity in films these days. There are always hidden messages or moments of clarity in film to show character growth and storyline but the learning experience here is way different and not only because of the nature of the topic. What we have here is a story that could be the prime example from a horrible situation. For example, the Anne Frank story of slavery, which by saying that I mean, a personable attachment to a horrific event. It’s hard to think Holocaust and not think about Anne Frank. Well with slavery, I think schools would benefit greatly from teaching students the story of Solomon Northup. It helps envision what a day in the life of a slave was like and how twisted our countries views were for a time.
Steve McQueen directed a visually beautiful film and told a tragic story. This is my favorite movie of the year, barely edging out Gravity. I put it at number one because it has longevity. Gravity is an absolutely marvel of a movie but for me, 12 Years a Slave has is complete package.
Rating – A