Friday, September 12, 2014

Saturday Movie Night: 12 Years a Slave

The HBO premiere two Saturdays ago was 12 Years a Slave. I've been thinking about the movie since then.

It's a good film--maybe a great one. I'd have to watch it again to decide. The performances were excellent.

It's an important film--especially for Americans.

It's a harrowing film--it's hard to watch.

I've read some criticism that the film is too optimistic--"only" 12 years as a slave--audiences aren't ready for a lifetime as a slave.

I can't argue with that. But I understand this choice of narrative. It's important to have a true story. Otherwise, some would complain that the film's owners and overseers were too cruel, too extreme. "They weren't all that bad."

Then there's the practicality of getting slave narratives. In many cases, reading and writing were capital offenses, how many narratives could there be?

I have one slave memoir--the story of Harriet Jacobs. To escape, she hid for seven years in a coffin-like garret. Imagine how horrible it must have been for her to choose that option.

We need to read the stories of Solomon Northrup and Harriet Jacobs.

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