The movie “Twelve Years A Slave” directed by Steve McQueen

The movie “Twelve Years A Slave” directed by Steve McQueen, is one that depicts the true history and feelings of once a free black man, Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) unfortunately ends up in the painful shoes of a kidnapped and sold slave in the year 1841. As unreal as the movie may seem due to the cruelty and brutality displayed throughout the movie towards the slaves in the 19th century, this was the ineffable reality for the black people living in this period. The movie tells the story of the protagonists kidnapping, through their 12 years as a slave and then eventually rescued in the end. In this paper I will be go through the summary of the movie and then reflect on the movie and express how the blacks were treated as slaves.
Solomon, the main character, and the son of a liberated slave, was leaving peacefully a free married man with three children. He certainly knew what slaves were and but had never experienced it because he had been born into freedom. In wanting to make a little extra money in order to support his family he gets in touch with some white men, who offer to take him along on a short trip in order to play his violin as part of a circus act. Unfortunately, during their travels Solomon gets really ill, and when he is being led to the hospital he, goes unconscious but when he awakes he realizes that his free papers had been stolen, and that is how he found himself in the hands of the slave traders. He meets a couple of people along the story such as another free man who had been captured a free person as well and they construct an escape plan, but that fails due to the death of the person to smallpox. Solomon along with Eliza the another slave who had been torn apart from her family, were sold to a rich white man named Ford, who treated his slaves with compassion. Unfortunately, Ford had to sell Solomon to another white man who was not as pleasant. Solomon continues to go through many owners, and one of them, used religion in order to scare his slaves into doing their work, his name was Edwin Epps. He would also call Patsey a young girl, to his room and rape her which leads to the maltreatment Patsey receives from Epps’ wife. Solomon all the while has managed to reach someone who he could send letters to explaining his situation in order to regain his freedom. It finally goes through and that is when Solomon along with another man named Northup, are freed and head back to New York where Solomon is reunited with his family, after 12 years of course. In the end we see that the story is based of a true story and it is completely based on the reality of how blacks were treated during that time.
Having skipped many details on the maltreatment of the slaves during this time, I have not been fully been able to disgustingly the blacks were being treated, based of the movie. The movie does a great job because of how it manages to get across the message that racism is an instrument for human wickedness. As we can see, slavery did not even seem sometimes about colour of ones skin but about the slave owners and dealers, justifying what they were doing, this is seen when Solomon notices that there are some slave traders who were entirely his skin colour and another slave who was entirely whiter than their owner. The blacks in that time were reduced to property and even sometimes referred to as animals. You can see this when Mr Epps Solomons owner, is asked the difference is between a white and black man, Epps proceeds to say “All the difference in the world…You might as well ask what the difference is between a white man and a baboon.” This is not only the view of one slave owner, there were certainly several who had the same train of thought concerning slaves and their value as a human being.
While watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think, that the treatment the blacks were receiving was allowed and legal because the law enabled it. Slavery all carried on across the ocean to America in that era when made possible for them by the law, to become the “property” of any white person who had the wherewithal to purchase them. The law made it possible for them to be reduced almost to the level of livestock, to be hunted down like animals when they ran away to be raped, bound, branded, beaten, whipped and even killed. Which is what aches my heart the most, because that means a bunch of leaders all around the world decided it was right for other people to treat blacks such as animals. Meaning where were their hearts as humans?
Having watched this movie not only once but several times along my lifetime, each time I cannot help but be grateful for the freedom I am experiencing as a black person. To conclude, a character, Bass, in the movie stated something that contains so much truth to Mr Epps the slave owner “laws come and go, but universal truths remain”. This means that, thankfully, the laws can come and go, and as we can see Legalized slavery has come and gone.