Tuesday, January 14, 2014

12 years a slave

I went along to the Watershed this afternoon to see Steve McQueen’s acclaimed film “12 Years A Slave”. It’s based on a first-hand account of a black, free man (Solomon Northup – brilliantly played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) living in New York in 1841, who was conned, drugged, abducted and sold into slavery in Louisiana. As you might imagine, it’s a powerful, horrendous story of abject cruelty. Even though one is well aware of the evils of slavery of that time, it is nevertheless both embarrassing and shameful to be reminded of the stark, brutal inhumanity that society at large readily accepted. It’s deplorable to think that this was happening only a century before I was born… and that such outrageous instances of man’s appalling treatment of his fellow man has continued… the holocaust, apartheid, the civil rights movement, the battle of the rich against the poor etc etc.
It wasn’t really a film I particularly longed to see but, although this was essentially a US story, for me it was important for its connection with Bristol’s own “slave heritage”.
Yes, it was a VERY good film – brilliantly acted and powerfully told, BUT I actually found it somewhat predictable (sorry!) and frequently felt that I was seeing another version of the “Roots” television series of the late 1970s.

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