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(Realistic, disturbing look at slavery)
“12 Years a Slave” is one of the toughest, disturbing, realistic movies we have ever seen. It is so realistic and intense that some people may find it too much to witness.
The brutal story, told through the eyes of a Northern free man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, is a true history lesson, one that compassionate Americans will watch with great concern.
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a violinist/fiddle player from Saratoga, New York and a free black man with a family, who is tricked into taking a job in Washington, D.C., where he is kidnapped and sold into slavery.
He is renamed Platt by his “masters,” forced to work in the cotton and sugar cane fields and exposed to extreme conditions, unlike his life as a free man.
Slaves are subjected to brutal beatings, whipped until their skin turns raw. Women are raped. Men are hanged for the simplest infractions. Living, sleeping and working conditions are deplorable. Through all of this, Platt never loses his hope to return to his family, although the odds are against him.
White men treat their slaves as if they were commodities, necessary to do business. Some were worse than others, but even those who occasionally showed compassion were inhumane at times.
Music is a big part of survival, as the slaves sing their way through tragic beatings, deaths and even suicides.
Director Steve McQueen puts you right in the middle of the southern plantations, letting you see and feel how hopeless and depressing conditions were. You wonder how intelligent, religious men could turn into such horrible creatures.
This is one difficult movie to watch, but one that should be seen by young and old alike and one who’s lessons must be learned.
Rated R for some nudity, sex, profanity and extreme violence.