Three movies in a month and a half!
I don’t know if I have ever seen so many movies in such a short period of time. Definitely not since any of the kids were born. It has been the perfect cinema storm though, with three must see movies coming out one after the other.
I read Twelve Years a Slave a year and a half ago. I don’t remember how I came across it… it must have been one of those things where you are link surfing through Amazon… I’m guessing I had a voucher that I had been given for a birthday, Christmas or something. Either way, I got the book, I sat down, and then I found myself drawn to it with every spare moment I had.
The book is harrowing. Even the small bits of happiness are cloaked in sadness. But it is also amazing.
I wondered whether the movie would turn out to be a bit lighter, or softer than the book? On the whole, I think they pretty much nailed it! The Southern Scenery is beautiful and warm, juxtaposing itself with the stark and brutal treatment that is meted out to the slaves. I had read that Steve McQueen, the director, shot some confrontingly long scenes, and that was spot on. I was particularly confronted by a scene that went for what felt like an eternity (but would have been maybe one and a half minutes) with a man left on tiptoes with a noose around his neck. The world around him is silent and focussed for a second before continuing on… the message to you and me, that, as shocking as this is, it was too commonplace to gain too much comment in the slavery-driven south.
If you want to see a movie that brings the brutality of slavery into clarity, then see the movie (or better yet read the book…. OK, let’s take it as given from now, I think you should read the book).
If you want to see an example of how people could bastardise the scriptures to validate their own behaviours, then you’ll get lots of that too. (For my non-Christian readers, I’d love to chat to you some time about how the reading of scripture by characters in the movie is not proof that you can “read anything into the bible,” but simply an example of how people will try and twist things to their own advantage.
All in all, I would give the movie 4 out of 5. My only complaints being the addition of what appeared to be a brief sexual encounter that wasn’t in the book, and the attempt to downplay the sincere Christian faith that Solomon Northup clearly displayed in his book. Despite his captors attempts to validate slavery by the Bible, and despite all the horrors that he suffered, Solomon Northup was absolutely convinced that God the Righteous Judge was in control, and that even if he wasn’t released in his lifetime, he was confident that he would experience true freedom with the return of Christ Jesus!
A great movie.