Why You Shouldn’t See 12 Years a Slave

12 years a slave1

I have seen this movie thrice! I can hear you murmuring—yes, I heard that! But wait, seeing it thrice should tilt this argument in my favour, no? At least, people should speak of what they know, right?
The plot is brilliant. A loving husband and caring father of two gets cajoled, gets abducted, and winds up in a plantation for 12 years. Another tale of black slavery/ white domination. Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who by the way bagged the acclaimed BAFTAs award for Best Actor, lit the scenes alongside Lupita Nyong’o, toying with our emotions, keeping us from wandering off the cinema hall. A class art! The film scooped the Golden Globe Award, BAFTAs, and has nine Academy Awards nomination. Phew!

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel Ejiofor

When I saw Chiwetel in the bizarre movie “2012”, I thought he wasn’t so commanding. Here, here, in 12 Years a Slave, he grabbed the spotlight by the ball.
Steve McQueen, the director, kept the scenes long enough to evoke pity, empathy and whatever else it’s called. Like when Chiwetel was noosed as punishment for attacking a white racist, and Lupita’s heart-rending lashing. A few other scenes were swift—like Chiwetel’s fingers between a female slave’s thighs. Mind you, no CGI was employed here, unlike most other 2013 movies. So, Steve sold no stunts, he sold feelings. A fair trade. Less expenses, more grossing. A way to go!
The movie was not dull in anyway, yet it left us waiting for one ending—where Chiwetel gets rescued. It was a matter of when, and not if. And it happened just as I thought: a re-union with his family. Can we sing Amazing Grace now?

Lupita, Chiwetel
Lupita, Chiwetel

Now, seriously, don’t see this movie!
At ten or thereabout, I watched this slave film where blacks were grossly maltreated. One of them, one day, got brave and tried to escape. He was chased down with horses and a net was cast around him. Like a fish in the days of Simon Peter, son of Zebedee, he was caught. The punishment he endured afterwards still haunts me now. Many years down the line, the slave story is still being told, to evoke nothing but pity. Not bravery! And for Africans, the past isn’t about slavery.
20 million dollars was spent to make 12 Years a Slave. How about same amount being spent to recapture the bravery of the great kings of Africa? Were there never glory-days before the whites came with their large boats? Was Egypt not feared by all…even from across Europe? How about Timbuktu? Shouldn’t more films be made to revere African kings and queens of note? Some pride needs to be recaptured. Some dignity. We aren’t pathetic at the exclusion of everything else illustrious!
And what does the slave films intend to peddle? Hatred? Blame? Complacency? The healing process? Ah, like someone cared if ‘someone’ was hurting! The man of the century, Mandela, (yes, I said it!) towered high above white dominance, and we want to see a film of him, played perhaps by Mr. Chiwetel Ejiofor, win an Oscar. And if there would be another slave story, it had better be told like Django Unchained (by Quentin Tarantino) where a black man is not only lashed at.

This is my bit.

Drop a comment if you got one.


19 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t See 12 Years a Slave

  1. I love this bro and I agree with you, too much of that slavery shit out there in movies, the motive for which I do not really understand. It is the same way I feel when I see poverty in Africa being peddled on the mass media like there are no big men in Maitama living larger than Bill Gates. Well done boss!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I disagree with the conclusion of this piece, to wit, that we should not watch 12 Years A Slave because ‘it is not our story’. If that is the case, we should not watch many movies and we should not read many novels out there. I do not believe the movie promotes ‘hatred’ or warefa, or diminshes the dignity of Africans. It is a simple story of man’s inhumanity to man and of one man’s resilience in the midst of trying situations. Seen from that perspective, why the hell should we not watch it? I love Schindler’s List, even though it is a story of the holocaust. The film is about one man being able to save lives by simply acting like a. Decent fellow should act in the midst of bestial times. Is that not a story with a universal theme. 12 Years A Slave is much more than a slave movie. As a multi-faceted story – like every good story is – there is something to be gleaned from it by everyone.


  3. If the hunter keeps telling his side of the story while the hunted keeps mute or expects him to talk on his behalf,then he is deluded. I loved 12-years a slave.Its plot and patness does it for me.


  4. The coup de grace for me was that scene with Brad Pitt. It wouldn’t change a thing for me even if he couldn’t help and Chiewetel eventually died a slave.

    That said, it’s not a high-listed movie for me but I think it’s neverthelsess a good one. As hackneyed as the storyline might appear, I think there is something quite brilliant in it. I do not think the mental process of creating something should be stifled for the sole purpose of appearing fresh or bohemian. If a work is brilliant, by no other name should it be called. Preferential taste, albeit might call for something else, but it doesn’t reduce the work to tart in anyway.

    I don’t think an artiste needs ‘censuring’ of what and what not to do .The bashers and critics can have their feast when it’s all done. If as an artiste (I speak broadly here), you are much inspired by a theme that has been previously dealt with, or dissatisfied by the way it’s been potrayed, then you are at a liberty to join the fray.
    The only error I see here is if a movie is merely feeding off public’s sentiment for something beyond artistic interest for some vainglorious recognition.

    There are still plenty of stories to be told, and who says Steve McQueen can’t tell a story that puts a starkly different bow on the black man, rather than the heavy contraption of a hamlet, sometimes in the future.


      1. Well, let an African who feels so strongly about the kings and Legends of Africa tell the world a story about it.. Maybe u can be our saviour.. Will you?


  5. Considering I requested for this review, I was a bit surprised at d title ‘why u “shouldn’t” ‘.. Hmmm! Well, Sorry, I’ve already watched it. Unlike other movies on slavery, this movie got me doing research and surfing the internet to understand the history of and stories behind the slavery of the black people, and only a good movie can do that to anyone.. Or should i talk about the passion behind d actors or is it the texas accent they brought back to life, dat I had to strain my ears to get the English which is a plus btw, Or is it the make believe wounds on Lupita’s back after the beating?? Pleaseee, my humble request is; I think the title of this review is a misnomer and can it be changed?


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