Saturday, February 15, 2014

A slave's tale

"I don't want to survive. I want to live."
12 years a slave is a strong contender for this year's sweep at the Academy awards. As someone who struggled (and I mean struggled and stalled and forced oneself) through the book, despite its notoriety as one of the most important slave tales, I am probably not the target audience for it.
Let me first state that slavery, which is a huge problem even today all around the world, is one of the most horrible atrocities that humanity has come up with. There is no excuse for it and there is no explanation for it, it is pure evil. Nothing will ever make it okay, nothing will sufficiently apologize for it and it is not understandable under any circumstances.
Slavery tales are always heartbreaking. Seeing (or reading) how some people were treated like objects and property solely for the color of their skin, their religion, their ancestry or pure misfortune is horrifying. It could happen to any one of us. We are all different and we could all be victims of being discriminated to the worst degree.
So this review is not a review about the terrible ordeal that slaves had to endure at the hands of their "masters". It is purely about how the story was told. And that is dreadful. Getting through a 300 page book is not a difficult thing. But the writing is dry because of course Solomon Northup did not have a ghost writer (which could make for a better told story) but did have a writing assistant (who was white!). I am not downplaying the horrible ordeal he went through but there are many even more horrible stories like that, written in a much better fashion. His narrative was dry and bordering on boring which was an insult to the horrors, in my opinion.

"If you want to survive, do and say as little as possible. Tell no one who you really are and tell no one that you can read and write. Unless you want to be a dead nigger."

This is a case of where it's better to watch the movie than suffer through the book. It's over faster and you learn the same amount of information. There are not many underlining nuances. The movie is shocking because of its story, because of its horrors and because of evil characters that are there by the dozen. Chiwetel Ejiofor is a wonderful actor who will most likely win an oscar for his portrayal of Solomon Northup. I don't think his portrayal was that outstanding. Neither did I find Lupita Nyong'o's performance that moving. And it is quite possible she too will win an oscar. Her character was very sympathetic and was suffering much more and much longer than Solomon. 
Brad Pitt's production Plan B Entertainment is behind this movie, directed by Steve McQueen and unsurprisingly, he portrays the only truly and through and through kind person in the story. I am still waiting for Brad to take on a role of a thoroughly bad man who is in no way sympathetic to the audience. Then maybe he'll even get his oscar. Benedict Cumberbatch is going places and taking on the world and so is Michael Fassbender whose oscar nomination is very well deserved. But that is all.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...