They say that those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it; they also say that you should forgive the wrongs of others to move forward. There are things that occurred in the past that people today couldn’t do anything about, given the fact that a lot of people were victims of oppressors and were forced out of their native lands to foreign and unchartered territories. You learn from the past by deciphering it in the present in hopes to move onto a promising future. What is unappreciated is the fact that there are a lot of people who do not accept the past for what occurred, and they do their best to try and cleanse their hands of stains that the strongest of elements couldn’t rinse off. Slavery is one of those things that was an unforgivable, unfathomable and overwhelmingly real event that saw a one race power over another and eventually led to (over time), the division of the victimized race itself – Black people. Is it a hard pill to swallow for anyone? Perhaps it’s harder for most because some look at it as “it came, it happened, we couldn’t do anything about it, so forget it.” It doesn’t work that way, and it’s funny that in the future, there will be a generation of individuals who will look at slavery as an afterthought – not realizing their origins. It’s been said that you never want to involve emotions when writing a piece of critique, but from a young Black man’s perspective, it’s damn near impossible to not invoke any sort of emotion when retelling the story of a man whose freedom was taken away from him.
Much like Fruitvale Station, this is a movie that put me in a state of vulnerability because of its factual background. Much like Oscar Grant, much like Troy Davis, and much like Trayvon Martin, Solomon Northup was a man who did nothing wrong but be the victim of racial paranoia and fear as he was wrongfully taken away and put into a position where he had no history of being – only the history of his people. When you’re inferior to a race more dominant than your own (although not outnumbered), the power of control is used in ways where unspeakable actions are ‘justified’ by a book where its meaning is to educate. There’s a reason why people don’t sit well with religion, because emperors, tyrants, and ‘politically driven conclaves’ used religion for the wrong reasons. If The Book of Eli (just the first thing that came to my head) didn’t show anyone just what one book means and what it can do to control a civilization, then I don’t know what to tell you. There was a lot of wrong in this movie that I had to mentally prepare for, and even with the thought process being specifically focused on the highly sensitive matter, it wasn’t enough to keep me from squirming tirelessly in my seat and fighting back tears. It’s Hollywood at the end of the day, but it’s not Django, it’s a step beyond Amistad and digs closer to Roots. When people talk about something that’s ‘quintessential’ whether it be sports or entertainment related, this could very well be one of those movies that will educate a generation or two (all races alike) on just how the foundation of North American society was built. There are more issues, of course, but with Slavery still being fresh in the mind and the lingering effects of mental, emotional, and physical traumatisation of a race of people, how can one simply sweep it under a rug because ‘the past is the past?’ ‘Nigger/Nigga’ is still being discussed today about its harmful terminology and just who can and/or can’t say it, and even with the racial division between ‘light-skin’ and ‘dark-skin’ & ‘house nigger’ and ‘field nigger’ still being more talked about issues, ask yourself this, is slavery really gone? Kanye West has a song called New Slaves, and the 2nd verse suggests that Slavery is still an agenda that a group of powers enforces, but quietly out of public sight. Am I about to turn into a Black Panther and scream out that I hate all white people? No, but I would be lying if I didn’t have that feeling inside of me heightened especially after watching this movie.
Staying on topic, it was brilliantly done because there’s no way possible to sugar-coat Slavery at all. With Django not even a year old yet, you still saw elements in that movie that carried out in real life, which is what made it uncomfortable at times (although it was a fictitious story). 12 Years took from that, a story of a man who just wanted right done by him, while still maintaining whatever dignity, honor and pride he had for himself. It’s not only the performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender that made this movie raw; the supporting cast (whether they had a speaking role or not) made this movie feel believable; the dialect, the systematic governing & painful tactics executed by the slave owners, and even the emotional tension throughout; it made me hate the characters and mourn for the sorrows of the people whom I happen to be blessed to share a skin tone with. The history of America isn’t one to tread lightly on, because it’s filled with things I’m sure Americans of today wouldn’t want to look at if you held it up to them in a mirror.
I cannot stress enough that if you choose to watch this movie, you have to prepare yourself for it and even still, expect to be heartbroken, but towards the end, hope reigns. Towards to the end of the movie, all you could hear every other second were sniffles and sobs, and that wasn’t just because of my friend whom I watched this with. It’s one of the most important movies that I’ve seen in a while because from here, depending on your outlook (and yes, your background), it teaches a valuable lesson about a tragic history, and it humbles you to be gracious of the life you’re blessed to have, when you look at all of the events that occurred to give you this life to begin with. I can’t even say ‘enjoy it’, because it’s not one that you can sit through comfortably, but it is a great movie. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX