We all have probably said it once in our lives, "not another slave movie." There are too many films that are the same, depicting the African American experience during slavery.
The typical slaves in chains picking the cotton fields, with vivid imagery of African Americans being hunted, lashed and hung by the masses has made watching these dreadful for most people.
1. The film gave a clear view of what life was like for African Americans in the South AND North.
Every film involving slaves clearly focuses on the Southern lifestyle with little or no reference to free African Americans living in the North. The main character of the film, Solomon, was a musician from Saratoga, New York where Blacks were educated and lived affluent in society.
Solomon was a free man. He had a family and career. He was taken advantage of by people he trusted and was drugged into slavery. The kidnapping made the audience identify with him because this could have happened to anyone.
2. The film made you have compassion for characters you normally would not have empathy for.
The slave owner was a drunk secretly in love with a female slave. His wife was a former prostitute that he met in a brothel. He was in a constant battle to be "a good Christian"and tried to avoid lusting over the slave. Failing to hide his feelings from his wife, she would make him inflict harm using vicious lashings on the slave to pay for his indiscretions.
A powerful scene showed the slave master's discomfort where he was forced by his wife to whip the female for no reason. He was so uncomfortable he made Solomon whip the woman instead.
3. The film was told from the perspective of an African American film director.
Usually films are based off some type of reality or experience. Most of the time filmmakers tell stories about ideas that resonate with their history or beliefs. Films made about slavery have been told by directors that have been of other nationalities but, not from the perspective of the people whose families were affected.
We all know African Americans are at the center of slavery. Steve Mcqueen told the film from the experience of a well respected and educated black male-which is the complete opposite of what most would think a slave is.
There are many reasons why this film stuck out compared to other slavery films. These reasons made the picture unique and set a standard for class, research and the slavery experience in America.
The film directors' job is to make its viewer emotional, active, but most importantly think.