12 Years a Slave

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -3

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbener, Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt. Historical drama. Written by Steve McQueen and John Ridley Directed by Steve McQueen.

FILM SYNOPSIS: The film is based on real accounts taken from the autobiography by Solomon Northup, a free black man in 1853 who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

PREVIEW REVIEW: This powerfully acted, artistically directed look at black slavery in America may be the most difficult film I’ve ever watched. We are not spared any detail of the anguish blacks endured in the South 150 years ago.

One can get a realistic account of the evil that raised its dark nature through Southern whites in our land at that time, but it also brings to my mind the horrors man continues to inflict upon his fellow man, every day, around the world.

Human trafficking, slavery, forced prostitution, genocide, and bigotry because of skin color, religious leanings or simply out of misplaced anger, still exist on Earth. Right now, Christians are being persecuted and even murdered for their convictions in lands not so far away. Muslim women are stoned to death because they were raped. Children are bought and sold, some by family members, right here in our own cities. Every time I see a film that focuses on the monstrous treatment African-Americans have endured in our nation’s history, I’m reminded that such barbarism still exists in the world.

You’ll see this film receive Oscar attention this year, but one question does arise: Why aren’t major studios making films about these other atrocities? This year alone, we’ve seen ill treatment of blacks in two other excellent films, 42 and The Butler. It seems to be a subject that lacks no coverage by Hollywood storytellers. So why aren’t these other present-day evils being brought to the attention of moviegoers with this same vigor?

It’s also a shame that while we see how brutal white men were to black men – and their women – how come no film examines the why of this treatment? How did these people become so harsh to other human beings? How did these people open themselves up to such godlessness?

I also found it disturbing that the Christianity as practiced by plantation owners was very unlike the religion I have been brought up with. Taking scripture out of context is often done by those seeking to use religion for self-serving purposes. This perversion of Scripture continues, but not by those who truly seek a relationship with their Creator through His Son. It’s a shame that we never see true Christianity represented by someone in this film. Come to think of it, where were the true Christians at that time? Were there some who spoke out against slavery? Did any white men do anything to end it before Abe Lincoln took power? If so, why aren’t they represented in any way in this film?

I’ve never understood the concept of disliking someone due to the color of his skin or differences in upbringing. My dad taught me to show respect for each individual. He had grasped the teaching in John 3:16 that those who want to distance themselves from other races ignore: “For God so loved the ‘world’ that he gave his only begotten Son. That ‘whosoever’ believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Those two words, “world” and “whosoever,” make it clear that God loves all who turn to Him. To me, that doesn’t sound like He favors one race over another.

Unfortunately, there’s so much disharmony in our land today, which raises the question, will this picture help draw us together or simply continue to strain black and white relationships?

If you should decide to attend 12 Years a Slave, be prepared for sadistic and grotesque depictions. The outcome of the studio’s special effects department’s wizardry will turn your stomach. We’re at that right stage in our movie-going evolution where moviegoers can now stand the sight of such violent perversities.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Regency Enterprises

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: The N-word is use several times by whites and blacks.

Profanity: We hear God’s name followed by a curse three times.

Violence: Brutal, and I do mean brutal beatings, sudden stabbings, skin-pealing whippings and most other bloody and degrading inhumanities; hangings, we see two men struggle as they hand to death and another is hung, with just his toes touching the ground; he is left that way all day; graphic rape.

Sex: Two sexual scenes and while they are somewhat graphic, there is no nudity involved in those scenes.

Nudity: Nudity elsewhere as we see slaves paraded around nude before prospective buyers; the salves are seen bathing themselves.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Some drinking

Other: None

Running Time: 133 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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