Take Me Somewhere Else
The conversation was normal in the House O’ Chuck as to what movie to watch. Sure, I get into the action movies and the vampirey stuff. But not as often as Tim does. This time I wanted to watch “12 Years A Slave” not only because it’ll make Tim cry, but because I like movies where people actually have to act and not have a CGI stunt double in every other scene. Tim refused to watch “12 Years A Slave” with me, so I watched it on my own. I’m sad that I did because this is one movie in the history of movies that needs to be shared with everyone who walks on American soil.
“12 Years A Slave” (in case you didn’t already know) is based on a true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man in upstate New York that befriends two strangers who are portraying themselves as artists in the musical field in pre-Civil War United States. I believe the time was 1841. They flash it on the screen. Solomon plays the violin and is intrigued that these two other guys want him to join them as they go traveling a carnival to play their music. He drinks with them to excess, and finds himself waking up after a night out on the town in chains on the floor of a barren shack. He protests that he is a free black man – but only to those who wish to make money by selling him to the slave market. And so begins Solomon Northup’s twelve long years of being a slave.
Let me say…right here, right now…that every person in America should watch this film. It should be required watching in schools, in prisons, and at all GOP conventions. The way you’ll look at another person, treat another person, and talk to another person will forever change after your mind absorbs this two hour movie. It is deplorable how humans used to get away with treating another human being. And this movie shows every uncomfortable inconceivable way we treated each other legally.
Solomon (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) struggles to keep his dignity and his pride while being a slave at two plantations in the South. His goal is to get back home to his wife and two children and he never loses sight of that star. No matter how blurry his vision would get. He’s an intelligent man that has to dumb-down his personality to get through each day alive and to avoid lashings. Slaves who could read and write were frowned upon and would earn them 100 lashes. And the plantation/slave owner (played so evilly by Michael Fassbender ) was incredibly generous with punishment to his slaves. Even his favorite, Patsey (oh my gawd…played so very well by Lupita Nyong’o) didn’t escape his lunacy.
For two hours you’ll sit in an alternate world peeping in on the life of a slave. You’ll try to figure out how he’s going to get out of the mess that he’s in while nothing but beauty fills your television screen. How can these plantations be so beautiful and harbor so many monsters? The music was amazing. Someone did their homework. Every sound you hear compliments the scene you’re watching. For two hours you forget that you have dinner to cook, or texts to answer, or a dog to take for a walk. You’re transfixed in pre-Civil War times rooting for Solomon (they change his name to Platt so that he doesn’t seem so smart) that you forget that this is actually a movie. This was someone’s life. And you begin to think how YOU would get out of this. Would you want to live or die? Would you escape? Where would you go? Why do people treat other people like this? How would you murder that slave owner? Thoughts rush through your head for two solid hours.
Until you meet a Canadian abolitionist (played by Brad Pitt) and you start to feel hope. It’s only a sliver of hope because other avenues that Solomon had tried to get a letter home to his wife in New York had failed terribly. The ending is right up there with The Color Purple ending. I cried. Yes I did. I’m actually tearing up now typing this just remembering how it ended.
12 Years A Slave is a keeper. Buy it…rent it…watch it with friends. You’ll WANT to watch it with friends because you’ll have so much to talk about afterward. There are graphic scenes in this movie, so it’s not suitable for little eyes. Let them watch “Frozen” while you watch 12 Years A Slave. I guarantee you that when the credits roll…you’ll be staring at the screen and you’ll want to go out and hug other humans. This is an amazing movie hidden among crap movies that Hollywood pumps out lately. Do yourself a huge favor…go to Amazon Instant Video and rent it or buy it right now while you’re thinking about it. Trust me. It’ll be the best two hours you’ll spend all week.