12 Years a Slave

12_years_a_slave_film_posterRarely seen on films, and in such an honest and brutal way, 12 Years a Slave explores human trading in an intense tone that carries throughout the movie. From the film’s onset, audiences are presented with a harsh reality: Solomon Northrup’s options are scarce, either fight now or survive by keeping his head low. A scene in particular emphasizes this, as he (the main character) is being talked to by two other characters left and right of him, symbolizing his options. But quickly enough, a character chooses the option to fight and is killed on the spot and thus, a single option remains. The director uses these links often, and through characters he is able to group almost every aspect of slave trading: The ruthless and vile landowners, embodiment of evil yet a reflection of what humankind is capable of becoming under constant circumstances (Fassbender, Paulson). The sad and working slaves, whose lives are forfeit only because of the color of their skin (Nyong’o). The civilized and incurring individuals, who by their own means try to distance themselves from the reality ever so present to them (Pitt, Cumberbatch). The list goes on, and serves to show the depth which the director ultimately achieves, not trying to make his audience sad (by juxtaposing melancholic tunes or tones) but simply showing everyone a reality just as it is; audiences making their own conclusions. He even jabs at the absurdity of it all, when one of the cruellest slave owners shouts out “What did I do to make God hate me?”. In the end, the film achieves a close adaptation of the book by the same name, but leaves a sad message: even if one man is saved, nothing had changed for all the others.

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