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Kelly’s Pick: 12 Year’s A Slave

History is written by the winners, not the losers.
“12 Years a Slave” isn’t just a movie, it’s a tribute to a part of American history that is often blinded by the epic beauty of plantation owners and a president’s struggle to keep a country together.
But this film tells of a journey that the winner’s side always had a hard time being truthful with.
The story is focused around Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejjifor).
In a pre-Civil Wartime, Northup was a black free man that gets snatched and sold into slavery.
Moving from master to master, Northup finds himself to be the most educated of the slaves on the plantations. This plays to his advantage at points, but mostly it proves to do nothing except harm his day-to-day living situation.
“Survival’s not about certain death, it’s about keeping your head down,” a slave says to Northup at the beginning of his journey into slavery.
“I don’t want to survive,” Northup replied. “I want to live.”
The slavery world differs from the free world in this way. The more submissive you are, the more likely you are to survive, but this comes at a cost to your psyche.
The film sheds light on one man’s strength and willpower being broken down piece-by-piece, plantation-to-plantation.
Although this topic has been covered quite a bit over the years, Director Steve McQueen does an exceptional job of taking the audience on a shockingly truthful path that other slave movies have just grazed.
It is seemingly a reinvention of a story that is often forgotten. There are torture scenes that became brutal and agonizing to watch, but they are done so with purpose. This movie will evict emotions in you that you were not aware you held.
“12 Years a Slave” is also unique in the way it is shot. In the modern era of films, where long attention to one specific scene is frowned upon, McQueen allows you to gaze into the eyes of the character for longer than thirty seconds, leaving you breathless.
The film’s style is captivating, contagious, and suddenly the viewer is forced to face the emotions of not just one man’s struggle, but of suppressed hope. This is McQueen’s true brilliance and sets his style apart from movies like “Roots” or “Glory”.
I’ll be honest, just as we’ve seen war movie after war movie, it’s hard not to feel desensitized to this nightmare in American history, but “12 Years a Slave” goes toe-to-toe with the  slavery issue that melts the cold away from the most numb of individuals.
Earlier this week it was reported that “12 Years a Slave” film, book and study guide will be offered to high schools as a learning tool in the classroom by the National School Boards Association.
Top that, “Gravity”.

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