In-Depth Look at “12 Years A Slave”

Nov 3, 2013 at 2:43 am |
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Brad Pitt - 12 Years A Slave

Growing up in America, every child is taught American history. Every story from Columbus sailing the ocean blue, to Paul Revere signaling, “the British are coming!”, to Manifest Destiny’s expansion of America’s borders, to the great American achievements of the last century. This is not to say that all of American history is taught without sharing the grimmer aspects of how the nation was built. Slavery played an integral role in the building of this nation. Although slavery has been abolished for over 140 years, its story is powerful and should never be forgotten.

Fox Searchlight Pictures recently released the critically-acclaimed feature, 12 Years a Slave. The film depicts the harsh reality of life as a slave. At the Toronto International Film Festival Brad Pitt discussed the film and its subject matter. Pitt praised Steve McQueen (director) for his work and explained his own support for the picture. Brad Pitt said that McQueen, “asked the big question. Why are there not more films about American slavery?…and it was the right question.”

12 Years a Slave is a story about Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, who is abducted and sold into slavery. Steve McQueen explained, “I wanted to tell a story about slavery. And I wanted to find an interesting angle into the narrative. I thought about a free man, a man who has a family and is kidnapped into slavery.” He emphasized that he wanted the story to be relatable to every viewer, he wanted it to be tangible.

Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays Solomon Northup marveled over the story and, “the depth of the human spirit.” He expressed that, “[the story] is about how hard it is to break somebody. What sort of reserves they can have and how deep they are prepared to go.” Ejiofor continued on that note and spoke about his character saying, “this is a story about one of the harshest structures that’s ever been created in the history of the world. And it is about somebody (Northup) trying to survive that with their mind intact. And they do.”

Since the film’s release it has received many accolades, and deservingly so. It bravely reminds us of who we were and how far we have come. Brad Pitt described eloquently that, “Ultimately what the story is about is it’s a reminder of our responsibility to each other. That we’re all equal.”

Growing up in America, every child is taught American history. Every story from Columbus sailing the ocean blue, to Paul Revere signaling, “the British are coming!”, to Manifest Destiny’s expansion of America’s borders, to the great American achievements of the last century. This is not to say that all of American history is taught without sharing the grimmer aspects of how the nation was built. Slavery played an integral role in the building of this nation. Although slavery has been abolished for over 140 years, its story is powerful and should never be forgotten.