Not since Denzel Washington won his first Oscar for GLORY have I seen a depiction of Slavery with such guts. 12 Years a Slave is a historical account of a Northern Free Black Man who gets wrapped up in the world of illegal slave trade and human trafficking.
I decided to go see this movie late at night on one of my recent traveling adventures. It happened to be the middle of the week, and when I walked in the huge theater, I found myself all alone. Two Hundred seats OPEN and I thought, "Private Screening!! Woo Hoo!!" The preview trailers began to roll, when I saw an African American couple sneak in and sit at the top of the theater. "Well, three out of 200 seats still feels like a private screening." I thought.
I had no idea what was to come.
I knew Brad Pitt had some producing credits and Steve McQueen was the director, so I was sure it would be quality, but I was ill-prepared for the tragedy that would unfold before my eyes. Let me be crystal clear, THIS IS NOT A FAMILY FRIENDLY FILM.
The movie makers seemed to take great risks to expose the reality of human slavery from the point of view of a former free Northern Education man.
The story of Solomon Northrop, a free man from Upstate New York, takes the viewer on a wild ride of injustice, hatred, and prejudice in a time when Americans treated each other like animals. The "Negro" was merely a piece of property for plantation owners in the South, and even though in schools we learn of the dangers of racism, it often goes over in a sterile institutional environment free from the realities of the day.
Constant beatings, rapings, and the most inhumane treatment imaginable brings the movie goer right to the heart of what it meant to live like Mr. Northrop. The diversity of slave owners depicted as those who were gracious to the down right mean, are on the screen in all their glory. At the end of the film, I felt anger bubbling in my soul, hatred oozing from my veins, and then a sense of embarrassment that there was a time in history where our civilization acted so immoral.
And we think it's over.
Sure, today it's illegal to own someone else.
But don't be deceived.
The idea that some people are more worthy to be human in our society is still ALIVE AND WELL.
After adopting two children from the war torn country of Rwanda, my own family has seen the discrepancies afforded to people with brown skin. Education is different, Social Outings are different, and even faith communities wonder why we would do such a thing.
It's amazing in 2013 there are still people who live in the world full of such ignorance. They don't beat people just for being a different color, but our policies afforded to certain people in this country are akin to that same vein of arrogance and ignorance which fueled the time of slavery.
If you're interested in being challenged in the way you think in your community....
If you're tired of going to the theater watching the latest special effects....
If you want to think, feel convicted, and then have meaningful conversations about the salve days of old....
12 Years a Slave is a moving film. The acting is outstanding. The story line is compelling. And the way faith is woven in the movie was more than interesting for this faith journeyman. The way man can justify some of the evils of history are just astounding.
Go see it. It will be worth your time!