This is the feeling I left the theater with more than a month ago. It has taken me this long to compose myself in such a manner as to write coherently about the film. It’s not that I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around the scenes; more along the lines of not wanting to. Even today, as I determine to face these emotions, my stomach is weak and my throat is tight. Why is this? I have seen movies with much more gore. I have observed characters undertaking more sinister plots. I know that many horror reels invoke spirits of evil beyond mortal capacity – ah, that’s it. You see, this evil showed itself to be within human capacity. As long as I am able to stand apart from the demons of life, they are somehow not quite real, allowing me to face them more boldly; however, in this case, the malevolence abides within men somehow like unto myself. Though I abhor this particular outtake from the hearts of man, is it possible that I could become so blinded by my own premonitions, greed, traditions or other forming representation as to become such a man as these? I pray not – literally, this movie has caused me to pray God opens my eyes to any and every seed of bias, pride and prejudice that it might be utterly obliterated by grace, love and truth before it ever has chance to take root and grow into some other blinding repugnance.
As for the movie itself, I learned nothing new of history, but there is a great difference between knowing and seeing. The screenplay is based on the life of Solomon Northup in the years prior to United States’ Civil War. Northup was a free, black man who was abducted and sold in the south as a slave. The movie covers these horrifying 12 years of Solomon’s life.
I haven’t the ability to grasp a time when a single man of reason could truly believe himself privileged to own another man as though he would own a common plow mule based solely upon the pigment of his skin. And, as hard as it is to grasp one man viewing another’s life this in this manner, it was not isolated to one man. This was the mindset of an entire confederacy. I believe that many men of this time were hateful and spiteful and out for selfish gain – these men had seared their consciences beyond repair. These men do not concern me, there will always be those who choose evil. What gives me great heartache is that I believe at least some subset of the South truly believed that this way of life was right in the sight of God.
Oh God, please let me see, wherever my vision might be cast, as you see.