While sitting down and watching a film about the realism of slavery in 2013, the only emotion that followed me home was fear. The sound of my heart beat on the way home and the apprehension I feel now while writing this review now—is fear. At the end of the film I believe Solomon Northrup survived a horrible battle, understanding Round #2 had to be fought.
In my opinion Solomon Northup did not realize the horrors or realism of slavery. He was a free slave, who earned his lifestyle and took great care of his family. Northup takes the audience through the harsh reality that slavery is real. A slave is property and property obeys. If said property, at any time, is not showing its worth—“Let me beat into you the errors of your ways!”
Northup does what is necessary to make it through his trial and tribulation. He forgets at times his skin is darker and his brain is only useful when a Master deems it worthy. I think this is realistic because any free thinking black would fail to recall his life is always one the line if he forgets his main role as a slave.
All in all this is a great movie, and not because it tells the history of my ancestors. Directing by Steve McQueen is amazing, although some of the lines delivered by Chiwetel Ejiofor (Solomon Northup) did not evoke emotion in me. The sound, setting, and acting behind some of the lines Ejiofor produced made me feel as if there should have been a “build-up moment” with music and ground moving acting, but there was none. Lupita Nyong’o (Patsey) delivered a stunning performance and her role showed the true nature of a hard working slave whose entire life was that of a field hand. Only pieces of me connected with the scenes provided by Brad Pitt (Bass) because his role was a bit stereotypical and I instantly did not expect him to have a cruel role.
At the end of the day, see it. It is an educational film depicted in the light of a feature film. It’s just ironic it took a collaboration of British people to depict our history. No Arched Eyebrows here.
Films that explore the dark past of any nation’s history tend to showcase them from a heroic light instead of showing it for what it was. For the first time I watched a movie about oppression and saw hopelessness, disparity, and pain without justice, vengeance, or the presence of a saviour at the conclusion.
As a black woman attending public school in one of the worst areas of America, I have been force fed every slave movie imaginable as a child. Black History Month was extended into a Black History academic year, every year, since middle school. The formula of these films were always the same–expose white people as the devils they truly are and show the undeniable strength of black people in the face of oppression.
Solomon Northup, like us, was born liberated, free, and equal. After he was deceived, drugged, and forced into slavery he responded the same way I imagine any person born under his circumstances would. He vowed to fight to live not just survive; he refused to give in to despair and knew in his heart justice would be served. If you do not understand the essence of Stockholm syndrome, you will before this film is finished. At some point Solomon stopped speaking all those brave encouraging words as all the beliefs and bible verses spoken to defend slavery did not feel as ridiculous anymore. Rationality is silenced as the director Steve McQueen forces you to get an understanding of slavery and empathize.
For the first time ever I saw death as the solution for the deep internal wounds caused by, not just slavery, but oppression. Solomon who preached of remaining strong and fighting disparity sent nothing but despair in one of the most touching scenes near the end as he looked into the audience. This scene marked his decent into acceptance. Before he was always disconnected somehow from the other slaves but in the next scene he stops fighting his predicament and joins in in song with the others. Solomon did not stop seeking freedom even after he fell into despair, but it was not the heroic fight usually shown in movies.
If you have not seen it, this film will teach you about slavery and its different forms properly from multiple perspectives and is a must see. If you have, Patsey is the true star. At the end of the film, as grateful as I was for Solomon, all I could think about was her outcome. I smell an Oscar (well at least a nomination).
No Arched Eyebrows here just pure satisfaction with a sprinkle of sadness.