12 Years a Slave Analysis

12 Years a Slave Analysis

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Campaigns against racism have been a popular trend both in the past and in the present. Despite their popularity, the issue of racism has not yet been fully addressed. The existence of expressions such as “beyond race” is proof that the world still has a long way to go in eliminating racism in society. Racism has evolved gradually from the traditional practice of slavery to encompass a range of racial slurs. Different races accuse one another of being racist. These accusations imply that racial animosity is still a major social problem. However, it is critical to acknowledge the steps that have been made towards eliminating racism, even as we continue fighting it. 12 Years a Slave is a 2013 film that illustrates an incredible journey of insight and redemption, foregrounding the anguish that came along with racism in the 19th century.

The movie, directed by Steve McQueen, is a biographical drama that tells the story of Solomon Northup in slavery. 12 Years a Slave is an adaptation of Slave Memoir by the same title, which was first published in 1853. Solomon Northup is born a free African-American in New York State (McQueen, 2013). Later in his life, he gets kidnapped in Washington, DC, and is sold into slavery. Northup works in the plantations of different masters for 12 years before he regains his freedom upon the intervention of Mr. Parker and a sheriff. The movie emphasizes the role of racism in slavery and its impact on the life of the victims. After his release, Northup reunites with his family, which has really grown in his absence. The film’s epilogue recounts the unsuccessful suits filed by Northup against his kidnappers (Brown and Hamilton) and Burch, the man who sold him into slavery.Order Now from Course ResearchersThe movie is quite hard to watch, considering the circumstances that Northup and other slaves undergo in the service of their masters. It contains some graphic scenes which depict pure hostility meted on slaves. The film reveals the awful nature of a man towards another man facilitated by unequal status. To keep the institution of slavery intact, the black people are ripped off all their rights, frightened and manipulated by the assertion that they are subordinates in the society due to their skin color. Northup faces violence and gets physically abused on various occasions. In the movie, the abuse of the rights of slaves appears natural to the slave owners who believe that slavery has a greater positive impact.

The depictions of slavery in the film mirror the extremely polarized race relations in the contemporary world. However, the tremendous pain suffered by the slaves embed epiphanies of redemption. There might be many people who had suffered a plight similar to that of Northup, who did not manage to free up themselves like him. His extraordinary experiences are rooted in determination that pushed him into making meaning even out of almost hopeless existence. Northup’s experience in the movie creates the impression that racism can be eliminated fully from modern societies. All that people have to do is to speak against tirelessly and with determination.


12 Years a Slave is a reminder of the existence of white superiority. The film, which was published less than a decade ago, draws our attention to the seemingly subtle comments that propagate racism. We are yet to attain a colorblind society and be “beyond race” as we would want to be. There are various societal aspects that vindicate racism that we must deal with. The movie reveals some rarely told truths that everyone needs to see; the remarkable progress that we have made, and the bits that we are yet to address.

Work Cited

McQueen, S. (Director). (2013). 12 Years a Slave [Motion Picture]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHyfpIXeTGI

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