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Review: 12 Years A Slave (Hollywood)

February 26, 2017

Ever since President Trump assumed office, this is all the kind of films played in movie channels.Or so I thought. Just learned February is Black History month in the US. So that is it.

Got to watch ’12 years a slave’ yesterday but missed the first couple of scenes as usual that i caught up with in You Tube. A period film, a real life story from the 17th century – ’12 years a slave’ can be and must be included in regular school syllabus if you ask me. It is a very good snapshot of history and if 12 years is like this, imagine a hell lot more (literally) for life long slavery, generations that is. Bonded labour, slavery, human trafficking – hardly a 100-150 years back in America, a slice of the American society.

Unlike other works on slave trade, this one cannot be dismissed as one more work of fiction, for it is not. There can’t be much of exaggeration in a real life account narrated by someone who had lived the terrible life to tell a story later.

Nothing I read long back in Wilbur Smith fictions on Africa and on slave trade prepared me for the sights of public bathing and nudity of the blacks to be inspected and treated and traded like cattle by the slave traders. How to break one’s spirit with no regards to his/her dignity… the case of the black women is even more horrible…

The picture opens with a free African American family man getting duped into slavery. He tries to explain who he is but is overpowered and disciplined when he learns to accept things for what they seem to be in order to stay around (alive). He works the cotton fields, lies he is an illiterate and he lives through insufferable hardship and humiliation on mere survival instinct. How he charts his release after a 12 year time as slave is the plot. In between he makes unsuccessful attempts to his freedom.

The perpetual waiting unshed tears in the haunting eyes of ‘Platt’ – reminded me of ‘Belle’ . It’s those eyes that reflect pain like none other, self-loathing, depressive, deep thinking and a restless heart….

Solomon Northup whose real life story is the picture wrote his book titled by the same name which is now the Oscar-winning film.

Every race will get civilized(?) at its own time. What were Europeans doing when the Egyptians were building pyramids? Hanging from tree to tree? You can never predict. Looking at how Chinese are doing well today…. it might not be long before the African blacks prove to be the late-beginners and surpass everyone at a future date. Can you think of what world will be like in a 1000 years from now.

No excuse for treating an other human being as sub-human.

Is America any different today from what it was in Solomon Northup’s times? Are our kids safe there?

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