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Wednesday, November 30 2022
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12 years a slave: Choice between living and survival

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Directed by Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave (2013) is a true story based on a novel written by the real Solomon Northup in 1853. The character is played in the film adaption by Chiwetel Ejiofor. He was a well-known musician and a free black man who lived with his wife and three children. While his family is away, he falls victim to a slaver and is sold into slavery. Shedding light on the tragic history, the director leads us on a journey of agony, anguish, and finally freedom.

Scoot McNairy and Taran Killam persuade him to come to Washington, D.C., with the promise of a high-paying job performing music in a circus. He is drugged and wakes up in shackles and realise that he has been sold as a slave. He isn’t the only one being sold and the other men in chains warn that he will be killed if he even tells his real name or try to escape. Solomon is helpless when his kidnappers rename him Platt and ship him off to Louisiana to be sold as he has no papers to confirm his identity.

Solomon is first sold to William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) whom we can say is the only kind master he had. Later he lands in the hands of plantation owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), a man known for torturing people. He struggles under Epps, who is forced to commit terrible deeds in his name, while he works for his freedom and simultaneously carrying out his duties as a slave so that no attention is drawn to him. Now the question is, “Will Solomon be reunited with his family at any point? Will his new life lead him to an abrupt end?”

One of the striking dialogues for me in the film is when Solomon says, “I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” This is exactly the message the film tries to give out to its viewers. Freedom is a choice and everyone has the liberty to live his or her life in the way they want.

12 years of slave is a stunning work of art that will make you cry, cringe, sigh, and gasp at moments. The director doesn’t hide the reality and bravely showcases every aspects of slavery it to the spectators. The slaves’ despair and helplessness make you want to console them in some manner.

When it comes to the lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, he has poured his heart and soul into the role and I literally mean it. The film’s cinematography is particularly unique as it combines contemporary methods with a historical story. The film indeed has absurd and disturbing scenes which leaves us in despair and start to realise how thousands of slaves had to go through the same misery.

It is not a surprise that 12 years a slave won three Academy Awards including Best Motion Picture of the Year (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas). It became the first film directed and produced by a black filmmaker, Steve McQueen, and also the first to be written by an African-American, John Ridley. The other two awards the film bagged was Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role by Lupita Nyong’o and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay by John Ridley.

I believe the film serves as a reminder of how grateful we should be for our freedom and focuses on importance of humanity and treating people equally.

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Reshma B.

Reshma Babu, a young Postgraduate in Mass Communication and Journalism from St. Aloysius College, Mangalore University, utilises her considerable learned journalistic knowledge and inherent story writing and sub-editing abilities to add value to the company’s media brands and the editorial team. All dimensions of human interaction are her prime focus.

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