My initial reaction to this movie is that is is brutally beautiful. This movie gives viewers a screen portrayal of the riches to rags slave narrative of Solomon Northup. With an IMDB rating of 8.1, 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and over 10 awards (including the 2014 Academy Award for Best Picture), this movie has the accreditation to attest it to be one of the most popular slave narrative portrayals in America.
With such a large audience base, it is important to evaluate the realness of this adaptation of Northup’s narrative. Northup’s narrative makes American’s face that fact that free African Americans were not truly free. His riches to rags narrative shows the fear free men had to live with every day because of the Fugitive Slave Law.
Because of the Fugitive Slave law, Northup was stripped of his entire identity, and painted to be a slave who had run away, and was being put up for sale. After his kidnapping, Northup quickly learns that protesting will only get him killed. As many slaves had to, Northup learns to resist in other subtle ways. In my opinion, a hidden message lies in this struggle. Northup breaks the stigma that slaves were people with little knowledge because of their lack of any formal teaching. Nothup’s story is able to remind us that slaves were people who had emotions, family, and a desire to be free.
Many argue that Northup’s story should not have ended on a happier note. I believe that it is happy that this movie ended the way in which it did. Not only does it follow Northup’s life, but it allows him to deliver crucial lines to his family, in which he apologizes for the time he was away. Despite being a free man again, he shows the trait many slaves acquired: apologizing for events outside of their control.
After review, I am in full agreement with the ratings and awards this movie has been presented with. It is a beautiful adaptation, and one that I believe Americans need to be exposed to. In my opinion, knowing the brutality slaves faced is crucial knowledge of United States history that every American should have so these horrors do not take place again.