You will never be able to watch ‘Gone With The Wind’ again after watching this entirely engrossing and historically accurate true story about a “free” black man who was kidnapped and enslaved in 1841.
Be prepared to be confronted with the ugly truth about slavery, in 12 Years A Slave. No matter how much Gone With The Wind portrayed the Deep South as a gracious place where plantation owners treated their slaves like beloved children, that myth has now been busted forever!
’12 Years A Slave’: Tells The Honest Truth About Slavery
12 Years A Slave, tells the story of talented violinist and devoted husband and father, Soloman Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is sold into slavery after living his whole life as a “free” man.
Northup is a respected member of the community in picturesque Saratoga, N.Y. when he is lured to Washington, D.C. with the offer of a musical gig. There he is drugged, kidnapped and sold into slavery by his supposed employers.
Just imagine if you woke up one morning in chains in a cell and discovered that you had lost all your rights, even the right to your own name. That’s what happened to Northup, who was herded onto a boat, told his name would now be Platt, was threatened with injury and/or death if he revealed that he could read and write, and was then shipped to Louisiana, where he was sold at auction to a plantation owner.
The movie unflinchingly shows the daily horrors of the inhumanity of slavery. A slave trader matter-of-factly separates a female slave from her two young children while she wails and pleads for him to not break up her family. When the sobbing woman arrives at her new plantation home, the owner’s wife tells her, “you’ll have a hot meal and a warm bed, and you’ll forget all about your children.”
Slaves are routinely whipped for not picking their daily quota of cotton. They work until they drop dead in the fields. Northup is almost lynched when he can no longer stand the cruelty of the plantations’s slave overseer.
Only the fact that he is the “property” of an owner, who might actually be upset if he is killed, saves him from that instant death. Nevertheless, he is left to dangle with the noose tight around his neck, while he stands on his tip toes for hours.
When he is sold next to a cruel and psychotic owner, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), he witnesses the rape and abuse of beautiful young slave Patsy (Lupita Nyong’o).
Epps is sexually obsessed with her but hates himself for his “weakness.” He forces Northup to whip her, with the threat that he will shoot all his slaves if Northup refuses. When Northup can torture Patsey no longer, Epps whips her to the point of near death.
’12 Years A Slave’ Should Be Added To School Curriculums
This is the reality of slavery. Human beings with no rights to their families, to any education, to their own thoughts, to a bar of soap, to their names and in fact, to life itself. They lived and died by the whims of their masters.
Northup lived this life for 12 years before finally being rescued by his family and close friend. And once he escaped, he wrote his auto-biography — a powerful condemnation of slavery — and it became a bestseller at the time.
You can’t watch the completely gripping 12 Years A Slave, and walk out of the theater thinking that the Confederate flag should ever be waved or honored anywhere in the U.S. today. It is nothing but a symbol of the revolting repression of the four million slaves in the U.S. before the Civil War.
12 Years A Slave should be put on curriculums and shown to every high school student in the country from now on. It speaks the truth.
Would you like to see 12 Years A Slave Hollywoodlifers? Let me know.
Read excerpts from top reviews around the country:
“It will be impossible to ever look at “Gone With the Wind’’ the same way after “12 Years a Slave,’’ a brutally powerful and emotionally devastating film that takes great pains to rip any lingering vestiges of romanticism from America’s most shameful institution.” — New York Post
“Sometimes you have to prepare yourself for the journey a film takes you on. So it is with “12 Years a Slave,” a harrowing, unforgettable drama that doesn’t look away from the reality of slavery and, in so doing, helps us all fully, truly confront it.” — New York Daily News
“[The film] should shame people with Confederate flags on their walls (“It’s about states’ rights!”) or Paula Deen types who harbor nostalgia for the elegance of the antebellum South.” — New York Magazine
“Though he insists to himself “I will not fall into despair,” this proves increasingly difficult for [Northup] as the unimaginable things he has to do to survive mount almost beyond understanding. Uncompromising to the end, “12 Years” insists on saying to us, this was how it was, deal with it.” — LA Times
WATCH: 12 Years a Slave Trailer
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— Bonnie Fuller