12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave is a film, in theaters now, based on Solomon Northup’s book of the same name. Northup, a free black man of Saratoga Springs, New York, as well as a husband and father of three children, was kidnapped in Washington, DC and sold into slavery. Ultimately ending up in Louisiana, he worked for several owners on three different types of plantations owners over the course of twelve brutal years.
Northup’s book has historical significance, being by far one of the most detailed written, first hand accounts of daily life on large, brutal, production-based plantations in the South. It also gives a surprisingly rare first hand glimpse into the massive New Orleans slave market from which he was sold.
I will avoid writing a comprehensive, plot based, spoiler-filled review of 12 Years a Slave, but British director Steve McQueen did an epic job in bringing this book to the big screen. McQueen, whose parents come from Trinidad and Grenada, wanted to make noise, concerned about the “deafening silence about slavery, ” in his words, “despite so much evidence of slavery on the street and in our daily lives.”
The result is a raw experiential film that keeps you on the edge of your seat, almost in fear. The film’s motivation is not to evoke unity, or show the power of the American spirit, but to show slave life on Southern plantations as it was portrayed by Mr Northup, whose account was popular amongst abolitionists. McQueen doesn’t let the viewer off the hook, extending scenes that we’d normally expect to end, and refusing to follow them with scenes of laughter or humor, of which there were few, if any. The acting is superb. Most viewers will learn something about slavery, and all viewers will see it as they never have before.
12 Years a Slave movie is perhaps the first time that I’ve ever appreciated a film so very much, but do not want to see it again, at least for a little white. I do strongly recommend that you see it, if you haven’t already.
Post-film Mr McQueen is strongly pushing to get the book on the reading list for students in both the United States and the UK – an effort I hope is successful. Whether it is or not, why not in Plainfield?
Support a local artist
Plainfield artist Virginia Carroll invites you to “refreshments, art, and fun” at her show on Sunday, December 8th. It will take place at the Watchung Arts Center from 1 to 4pm. For more information please visit here.
Assemblyman Green Video
My video of Assemblyman Green’s bad behavior on election day was found inappropriate by YouTube, who had received a complaint presumably from Mr Green or his people.
I agree that it is inappropriate, and that’s why I think you, the voters that he represents, need to see it – as does Democratic leadership and donors who continue to fund Mr Green year in and year out. While YouTube has disabled the video on their site, it certainly doesn’t violate any rules on Plainfield View. I own the video so I will be uploading it again soon by other means. I’ll keep you updated.