Some lucky moviegoers already got to see 12 Years a Slave on limited release; I don’t know who, because I couldn’t find the list of cities it went to. Anyhoo, the reviews have been fabulous and I can’t personally wait to get my chance to see it on November 1st!
I would recommend a read of the original memoir of Solomon Northup from which this movie is adapted, but if you don’t have the time or inclination, from all accounts, this film is a must see for all Americans for a host of reasons.
The Washington Post calls the movie “A masterpiece of form, content, emotion and performance,” and the NYT piece entitled “The Blood and Tears, Not the Magnolias,” comments “The genius of “12 Years a Slave” is its insistence on banal evil, and on terror, that seeped into souls, bound bodies and reaped an enduring, terrible price.”
Here’s hoping that at last we have a movie that does not shy away from the true horrors of American slavery and as Lewis Beale comments truly is “an uncomfortable reminder that the legacy of this once deeply rooted institution continues to resonate in our society,” that might start a conversation that “has long been virtually ignored by the mass media, which has treated the subject of slavery as if it were the bastard child of American history rather than an original sin that must be faced.”
Beale gives me hope:
“This is not Django Unchained, which was a blend of spaghetti Western, Blaxploitation flick and whatever else popped into Quentin Tarantino’s genre-fevered brain. And it’s not last year’s Lincoln, a film that was about emancipation but was so genteel in its approach, it skipped the part about plantation culture. 12 Years a Slave is easily the most hard-hitting portrayal of slavery since the 1977 TV blockbuster “Roots.” It is the kind of film that many people will avoid, in part because of its depiction of everything from the surrealism of slave markets to whippings, rapes, hangings and the myriad ways in which slave owners terrorized and ruled over their property.” (Lewis Beale for CNN Opinion)
See a question and answer session with the screenwriter John Ridley on Word and Film here