Tag Archives: Slave Films

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.

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