“12 Years a Slave”: Movie Critique

12 Years a Slave is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, an American African man who was taken from the North and sold into slavery. This movie accurately describes what slaves went through in their lives. It shows everything from the slaves being sold, and separated from their families to them being beaten. To what life was like on the plantations, and how they were treated.

Since slaves were seen as property, they were sold as such. They were auctioned off to any white man willing to pay. Many slaves were separated from their families, and many would never be reunited with their families. For example, in the movie, Eliza was separated from her two kids, and it never showed them being reunited. This was very common because most slave owners did not care if they were separating families. They only saw slaves as a profit and property. Solomon was also separated from his family, but after being a slave for twelve years, he was reunited with them.

Throughout the movie, there was many scenes showing the slaves being beaten and whip. This often happened in real life if slaves disobeyed there master they were beaten. As shown in the movie when Solomon was whipped until he admitted that he was a slave. Salves were beaten and whipped until they bleed, and some would be covered in scars from the harsh treatment. There was also a scene were Patsey was brutally whipped because she left her owners plantation, and went to another plantation to get soap. In a later scene, it shows her back all scratched, scared and covered in blood. The movie also accurately show how slaves were raped, and sexually harassed. Patsey was raped by Edwin Epps, a married plantation owner. Epps’s wife even knew about it, and she did not do anything to help Patsey because she was jealous. Some slaves were treated so horribly that they would rather die than live another day on the plantation. For example, Patsey wanted Solomon to kill her because she thought being dead was better than having to be a slave for the rest of her life.

The movie does a good job showing what life was on the plantation. It shows the slaves picking cotton and picking the seeds out of it. The slaves sang while they worked. It also showed the difficult working environments, and showed that slaves died from working out it the heat all day. It showed how the slaves shared living spaces, and that they did not have that much to eat. The slave owners often taught the slaves about God and wanted to convert them to Christianity. The slave owners would read the Bible to the slaves because most slaves could not read or write. If a white man worked on the plantation, he would get paid, and they were treated better than the slaves. For instance, in the film, Edwin Epps offered Bass, a white man who worked on the plantation, a drink but Epps did not care about asking the slaves he only asked Bass because he was white.

Unlike Solomon, most slaves were never freed, and were never reunited with the families. Most slaves spent their whole life being a slave. Many slaves just did what they needed to survive and never really lived. Once Solomon was a free man again he fought against slavery and published his book 12 Years a Slave.

The only thing that was not completely accurate was the fact that in the movie it made it seem like there was no racism in the North. There were still racisms in the North it just was not as big as a problem.

The movie fits into what we have been talking about in class because we have talked about slavery, and the treatments of slaves and African Americans. It also fits into the class discussion because we have been talking about the abolitionist movement. We also have talked about how slavery lead to the Civil War. Overall the movie is very historically accurate, and it does a fantastic job describing the life of a slave

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"12 years a slave": movie critique. (2021, Mar 16). Retrieved August 10, 2022 , from

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