The best movie of 2013 was “12 years a slave”. It is a well told story with wonderful cinematography. The material covered is apart of American history and was necessary to be told. The beauty and tragedy of the story is that it is not fictional. It is the true story of one man and allegory of many. In telling the story the filmmaker presented the complexity, brutality and the tragedy that was the life of Africans in “slave” America. The representations of violence are not gratuitous, but instructive and do not feel contrived. They do however have you asking why and how? Why did slavery exist in a country that professed equality of all men and how was this system justified for so long? Gladly no attempt was made to answer those questions.
The power of the story can be seen in the reaction of the Africans to their loss of self-determination. The over simplified version is that there were two types of enslaved, the demoralized and the resistant. The demoralized made peace with enslavement and would not resist because he had seen the lot that fell upon those who resisted. While the resistant would continue to resist in spite of the consequences even to his death. The story of loss of freedom is tragic, but illustrates well the fleeting nature of physical freedom. The main character was betrayed by the trust that exists that allows free societies to function effectively. The trust that ensures that all are treated ethically and are equal under the law.
This is a wonderful movie that should not be missed. See it with your children. Make it a community event. Discuss it openly. The essential truth is the revelation that our physical possessions cannot keep us from bondage. The only freedom is that of the mind. The ability to move freely is significant, but the freedom to think as one likes is vital to the establishment a fully free society.