By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu
(I am wiping my tears off my eyes and blowing my nose simultaneously after the credit scene of this film)
Where should I begin? First of all, the guy who portrayed Solomon Northup is fucking AMAZING. The word AMAZING wouldn’t suffice to praise Chiwetel Ejiofor for his depiction of Solomon. Forgive me for not watching any of his film before but I swear I got him under my radar now. Maybe I did watch his films but I can’t remember. All the overwhelming of hype and buzz of this film is credible. I mean, the film is fantastic and brilliant. they did win 1 award for golden globe awards and they also receive numerous nominations in Academy Award. 12 Years a slave film is based on the memoir of ‘12 Years a Slave’ written by Solomon Northup who is a free Negro born in New York State. In 1841, He’s been kidnapped in Washington D.C after being tricked by 2 guys who claimed to have a job in circus for him. He then, sold into slavery and being shipped off to New Orleans. The plantation owner, William Ford (portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch) bought him and his name has been changed from Solomon to Platt. He stayed as good slave to Master Ford and even suggested to his master the idea to transport logs effectively using the lake. However, situation arose as the one of the managers at the plantation disliked Platt and always picked on him. He failed to remain calm and in the spur of the moment, he had beaten the manager. Fear for Platt might be killed as an act of retaliation by that manager; Master Ford sold Platt to Edwin Epps, the cotton plantation owner. Platt did try to tell Master Ford that he is a free man but Ford can’t help him because he had a debt to pay.
Let me be frank with you guys, that I watched this film solely because of Michael Fassbender. After Shame, X-men: First class, Prometheus, Fish Tank and so many films of him that I watched, I have became a big fan of Bender (and a bit obsessed too). Ruby and I called him ‘Abang Bender’. Michael Fassbender in this film is nothing like his previous characters in the films I listed above (nothing at all). When Ruby and Ika first told me about this film and they were pretty much excited about Fassbender going to play some evil role, I was like ‘okay’, not that I don’t look forward to it but in Xmen First Class, he’s pretty much covered the definition of evil. The role he played in this film, unfortunately is much more twisted, sadistic, brutal and vicious slave owner. Evil could not even begin to justify what he has done to all of his slaves. He whipped his slaves for not being able to pick an average amount of cotton per day, he raped his slave whenever he pleased to do so, and he called them up in the middle of the night and asked them to dance just for sake of his entertainment. I seriously don’t like his character in this film. I hated it because his acting was excellent and I did see him as inhuman slave owner in the film. At that time, having and owning slaves is not a sin and legal by law. Master Epps frequently read to his slaves the bible verses that supported slavery act. He planted the idea that they have to accept that they are his property and he can do whatever he likes to them.
Platt attempted twice times to contact his friends and family. The first attempt failed as he sought help from the wrong person. Afraid of being caught again by Master Epps, he burned all the stolen paper and destroyed the ink and pen that he made. Later, He met Samuel Bass (portrayed by Brad Pitt) a Canadian carpenter who constructed the gazebo for Master Epps’s house. Bass is a simple man who believes that men no matter what color he was, is equal before god. He expressed his opinion to Master Epps but Epps dismissed his point by saying that the slaves are rightfully obtained by him. They are his property. Platt felt Bass’s sincerity and confided in him, his story from beginning until he ended up as one of Master Epps’s slaves. Bass agreed to help after a moment of reluctance to write a letter for him and will bring it to Saratoga Springs. One day, a sheriff appeared with his friend who is a shopkeeper from the place he used to live, Saratoga Springs. Platt fitted the description of Solomon Northup from his previous life at New York and is freed right away. Epps refused to let Platt go and threatened to pursue the matter to the court. The final scene of this film is the reconciliation of Solomon Northup with his family. 12 years of absent in the family showed that his daughter already got married and have a child named after him. That scene was so touching and full of emotions of sad and happiness. He then begged his wife for forgiveness of not being able to return soon and missing in her life for 12 years.
I would like to state that every single scene in the film is haunting my mind. This movie is not something you can repeat twice and watched it all over again. This is about subjugation and suppression of black-skinned people by white people who they called ‘Master’. However, I would like to highlight some of the unbearable scenes that I don’t want to watch EVER again.
1. Every single scene that has a singing moment or a song in it. It is excruciating. They used songs as an entertainment, encouragement, and some of it even as reminder to realize who they really are. Some of those songs had catchy tune but was sung in the solemn and grave environment and time. among all of the songs featured in the film, Roll Jordan Roll really stuck in my head and i kept humming the song.
2. When Master Epps chained and whipped his favorite slave patsy in front of other slaves. He told Platt to do on his behalf but Platt didn’t go all the way as he ordered. He then took the belt and whipped patsy until he felt satisfied. This film then showed how badly patsy has been injured.
3. When Solomon was hanged at the tree and fighting for his life as his feet only an inch away from the tree. There is some slave who did give him water but nobody dared to remove the rope. It was agonizing seeing a man fighting to catch his breath while all the slaves continued their works as usual at the background like nothing happened. He was freed from the rope by Master Ford when he returned from work. I mean like what the fuck you didn’t send any of your messenger to release him right away. He was tied by a bad people but somehow the manager of the plantation couldn’t care less. He did chase away the bad guy but he walked away without releasing him. The wife of Master Ford also turned away from the scene.
4. The rape and assault scene of Patsey by Master Epps is cruel and pitiless. Patsey endured it even she didn’t like it. However, she’s finally break down in front of Platt asking him to kill her. She admitted that she does not have enough courage to take her own life. However, Platt refused to do so.
5. When Solomon realized he’s been kidnapped and beseeched his kidnapper to release him. He tried to convince them that he is a free man from New York. However, he failed to provide any legal document as a proof. He was beaten using a wood stick until that stick is broken. The kidnapper then used a belt to flog his back until it bled. I cried, dude. I really cried my heart out. How could you treat another human being like animal?