Cornelle Keveen

Author of Dark Urban Fantasy and Romantic Drama


12 Years a Slave...My Review

Posted by CornelleKeveen on November 30, 2013 at 11:30 AM

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12 Years a Slave

My Review


There’s something to be said about the truth. It’s tangible. It has weight. It’s concrete with a measure of solidity. You can build on the truth. It has worth and value. Right? We’ll see very shortly about the rightness of the things as seen through my eyes. Now I must warn you. I am going to spoil this movie for you if you haven’t seen it. So read further at your own risk.

We were speaking of truth, worth, and value in reference to 12 Years a Slave, the movie. I need all of us to exercise a great deal of separation between this movie and autobiography of the same name. I will not even attempt to pass my opinion of Mr. Solomon Northrop’s life story as penned by his own hand. Such a work is far beyond my range. As is this movie. However, I paid good coin to bear witness to this film and speak of it I will.

I enjoyed this movie for roughly ten minutes. My enjoyment may have lasted longer but I had pretty much written the film off as something I needed to see on DVD in the confines of my own home. I think I have pretty much had my fill of films recounting slavery, prejudice, and racism as it was directed upon a certain race of people. Any certain race of people, I might add. But I really didn’t want to sit through a musical such as the Black Nativity either. No I wasn’t having issues with my blackness. I had no interest in seeing Hunger Games either.

My pride was stretching its roots inside of me as I watched Solomon walk the streets of New York, confident and in charge of his world, one he shared equally with his white counterparts. He was treated with respect and served the same as white patrons when he entered the shops and stores. They regarded him as an esteemed and learned gentleman of the arts. He had a home along a well travelled boulevard it seemed. It was a joy to watch even knowing that the other shoe would drop sooner than later.

And drop it did. There went the comfort of my seat in the theatre. I could hardly sit still as the slave overseer had Solomon and other freshly acquired African meat clap their hands to a song he had so lovingly crafted entitled….Run Nigger Run.

Now I do remember the uproar that some folks raised over the use of this word in the movie Django Unchained and I really don’t understand where these people were for the release of this film. I can’t even begin to describe the rage. My bones threatened to shatter at the swell of it. It wasn’t just my imagination when I tell you the song lasted forever. Well into the next scene. Intentionally so, I’m sure. It was meant to plague us as it did Solomon’s character. Bravo. Success. The filmmaker succeeded in making me feel absolutely disgusted to the point of walking out of the theatre.

But alas, I endured. I watched scene after scene of hopeless despair roll across the screen. There was one other proud moment when Solomon stood up for himself and wrestled the whip from an inept overseer and beat him in kind. But his punishment was hardly worth the effort.

We were forced to watch him almost lynched. He was rescued by a not so benevolent taskmaster who didn’t want to lose the Master’s investment. Solomon wasn’t lynched…but he was left right on the precipice for hours and hours. He hung with the noose around his neck with his tip toes pointed into sinking mud constantly seeking enough firmness to give slack to the rope taute and constricting around his neck. The other slaves went about their work around him. Sun up til sun down, he hung there and we were forced to watch in as much captivity as he it seemed.

And so this film continued trudging forward to its crowning glory of a scene. The Master’s favorite Negress. The one he coveted above all others. The one who picked 500 pounds of cotton every single day for as long as she was a slave for her master; the one whose bed he favored over that of his pristine white wife. This young Nubian queen as he himself described her, ran away for one hour to the next plantation to fetch a piece of soap to bathe because she was gagged by her own stench.  Because of his own maddened paranoia, the man had her tied to a tree to taste the lash.

Mind you, this Master prided himself on being the slave breaker. Forty lashes were not nearly enough for his slaves. A hundred lashes or a hundred and fifty was his normal fare. He was prodded on by his insecure and jealous wife. After all, she had been told that he would gladly let her go before he would let his beloved Patsy leave him.

I’ll leave you with this. The coward couldn’t bring himself to beating Patsy within an inch of her life. He demanded that Solomon do the deed. And so he did, with a gun held to his head.

I walked out. I returned for the end of the movie…hoping somehow there would be a redemptive moment of triumph at the end.

He was freed.

He returned to his family after 12 years as a slave.

He wept.

And it ended.

We walked out of the theatre in total silence. No applause. No redemption. No sense of worth, honor, or value. Even after the truth.

I wanted to take a bath. I wanted to sit in my house with a case of beer.

I wanted to watch Django Unchained for 36 consecutive times.


Fuck the Truth.

I’ll take the fantasy. Get em Django!


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Reply Ren
7:36 PM on November 30, 2013 
I can't watch movies like this any more. Its not about denying my blackness either. It just makes me too angry, upset and...very helpless.
Give me Doctor Who any day.
Reply Merry
4:26 PM on December 1, 2013 
Its good to see you back and writing, I haven't seen this movie so I am only speculating here, perhaps the reaction you had, was the reaction the director wanted you to have.
Reply CornelleKeveen
6:44 PM on December 1, 2013 
Ren says...
I can't watch movies like this any more. Its not about denying my blackness either. It just makes me too angry, upset and...very helpless.
Give me Doctor Who any day.

I am definitely feeling you on this one Ren. Now Dr. Who is a just a tad bit past Trekkie for my taste...but more power to you. We all know you're strange like that. :::Runs::
Reply CornelleKeveen
6:45 PM on December 1, 2013 
Merry says...
Its good to see you back and writing, I haven't seen this movie so I am only speculating here, perhaps the reaction you had, was the reaction the director wanted you to have.

If he wanted me and a few others to walk out of the theater...He was almost Too successful Ms. Merry. You'll have to see this one for yourself so you can get your own feel for it. I would Love to hear from you if you do decide to take a gander.
Reply Bobbi Romans
3:02 PM on December 5, 2013 
Sometimes no matter how ugly we must be reminded as so none will ever forget. I get into it sometimes with ppl on FB who are outraged ppl share information on horrific crimes and such.

They'd rather not imagine they happen. A very dangerous mindset to have. As ugly, only with conscious thought can they even attempt to be changed.

Even ONE voice matters.

Plus...I aint their damn momma. Don't like what I put...get the eff off my page.
Ya know?