Tucked neatly between other heavy-hitting films like “Ender’s Game” and “Bad Grandpa,” the largely overlooked, “12 Years a Slave,” was able to slip into the box office action with its first big, theater increase that occurred over the weekend.
It still was not quite a nationwide release, but with talk of a best picture nomination for the film being floated, it grossed $4.6 million over the weekend bringing its grand total to $8.7 million.
Luckily, there is one place in my area that is showing this movie, the Malco Paradiso in Memphis, Tenn., and it was only available on one screen, so be sure and get there early if you live in the Memphis area.
Cast members of the film include: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, and Quvenzhané Wallis just to name a few.
The story is about a man named Solomon Northup, who is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. Northup was an educated, free, black man living in New York with his wife and kids. He was swindled into a business deal in Washington D.C. where he was kidnapped, brutally beaten and then sold into slavery in Southern America.
This is a very graphic movie that pulls the hideous shroud back allowing the gruesome world of American slavery to have the entire spotlight – featuring quite a few taboo images that most whites are definitely uncomfortable with – images of black, nude men and women, images of slave fields and plantations, images of the white master raping black women, images of black families being torn apart as children are ripped away from their mothers and sold to the highest bidder, images of blacks being worked like animals and treated like less than an animal, and the traditionally troubling images of whites pummeling and lynching blacks for any and every reason.
But by far, the most disturbing parts of the film have to be the unashamed disregard for black life, and the extreme severity of the beatings that slaves were forced to endure.
One of the beating scenes is so wickedly despicable and so callously inhumane that it is almost unwatchable! It makes the famed, beating scene from the television series “Roots,” where Kunta Kinte was strung up and beaten until he accepted the name “Toby” look like an old, 1980, after school special on ABC.
The sheer viciousness of the human bludgeoning of slaves that is showcased in this movie flies in the face of the current talking points of many whites, especially conservative whites who will quickly blame what they feel are grossly exaggerated horrors of a fairly benevolent institution known as slavery on liberal leaning, race-hustling movie directors that consistently vilify slavery to appease lazy, dependent, excuse-making blacks who only live to use racism as a crutch.
However, the mere definition of the word slave is the total embodiment of power’s absolute power over the powerless, and that in and of itself is so oppressively rotten to the core that it does not have to be exaggerated, because it has no problem living up to the horrors and injustices that go along with oppression, and “12 Years a Slave” makes that point flawlessly.
It is a fascinating movie that eats away at your conscience, teaches you the bloody details of American history, captures the best and the worst of humanity, and annihilates any form of some minimizing comfort zone that you might think that you have regarding slavery.
It gets two thumbs up from me.