On the 18th, 12 years a slave will hit the theaters. The movie depicts the true story of Solomon Northup, a freed Black man from New York who was drugged and sold into slavery in 1841. As the title states, he spent 12 years toiling under the brutal Louisiana sun before he regained his freedom.
The director, a Brit of African descent named Steve McQueen, has already taken heat for the brutality of his depictions of slavery. Mind you, nobody has said that he was over the top, or inaccurate. Only that it caused his audience too much discomfort. Which is actually a criticism of the institution of slavery, more than an indictment of McQueen.
Others have questioned whether we even need a movie about slavery. Because, we have of course been inundated by realistic depictions of slavery. I mean there’s Roots, and Sankofa, which wasn’t exactly realistic, and, um…
This. Solomon Northup’s Odyssey. It was directed by Gordon Parks and starred Avery Brooks. It’s like 12 Years a Slave, only 32 years earlier.
You see, after Roots aired in 1977, the Producers of Odyssey had to argue to PBS executives that there was anything left to say about slavery. The results were Solomon Northup’s Odyssey and another movie that not too many people know about anymore, Denmark Vessey’s Rebellion. Rebellion aired in 82, Odyessy in 84. Both appeared on PBS and then fell into obscurity.
Parks filmed the movie in the Savannah Georgia, utilizing a racially diverse crew to show Southerners that we can get along. You can see Solomon Northup’s Odyssey here. When I figure out where you can see Denmark Vesseys Rebellion, I’ll let you know.
Below are previous posts about slavery and history.
It includes my review of The Butler. I didn’t see it, by the way. As well as an earlier post about 12 Years a Slave, and even Ask a Slave, a clever youtube series that is using laughter to combat the idiocy of racism. Finally there’s this; Assassins Creed will soon enable players to fight the good fight, slaying slavers through the guise of this guy, escaped slave turned pirate, Adewale.
Have you had enough of movies that depict slavery? More to the point, if you are Black, are you ashamed that your slavery is part of our journey? I want to know.
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