History Goes to the Movies: 12 Years a Slave

Professor Carter recently took some history students to see the film Twelve Years a Slave.  Here is what two seniors, Elizabeth Gore and Eric Goetsch, had to say:

Reflections from Elizabeth Gore

elizabeth“12 Years a Slave is truly one of the most remarkable movies that I have ever watched. It tells the story of a once free black man, Solomon, who becomes kidnapped and sold into slavery. While on the plantation, the audience also discovers the lives of other slaves. The complete and deliberate dehumanization and psychological exploitation accompanied by physical brutality made the theatre cry out in disbelief. While anything but heart-warming, the movie served to enlighten the 21st century person about the true cruelty that occurred in the 1800s. While awareness of slavery is one of the goals of the movie, there are also themes that can be applied to life today. One modern implication is the moral obligation that we have to defend and uplift those who are marginalized by society. Two others also come to mind: thankfulness for security and an overwhelming gratitude for freedom.”

Reflections from Eric Goetsch

eric“When I agreed to attend 12 Years a Slave, I was not prepared for the wave of emotion that would wash over me within the first 15 minutes of the movie. When one is pursuing an evening in the city with one’s spouse or close friend, you might begin with dinner at low-key restaurant followed by a heartwarming ‘chick-flick’ or asinine comedy, which leaves you struggling to muster a stimulating, engaging, and thoughtful conversation.  If this is what you’re looking for, then I highly recommend you do not attend 12 Years a Slave. Without a doubt, it was the most powerful and raw film I have seen in my 21 short years. A freed slave, talented musician, and loving father and husband, Solomon Northup was robbed of everything in a matter of minutes. Following his kidnapping, Solomon was violently tossed into the Southern slave trade, a world significantly more abusive and brutal when compared to his previous experiences as a free man in the North.  In a mere two hours, Director Steve McQueen intimately portrays Solomon’s next 12 years in exile, revealing every atrocity and horror enslaved African Americans endured. Graphic, violent, and grisly, this film arouses nearly every emotion and unearths a plethora of sentiments many individuals fail to realize they possess. Regardless of heritage, nationality, race, or religion, 12 Years a Slave is not only informative and breathtaking but also relevant and applicable to anyone willing to step out of their comfort zone or brave enough to pull their head from the sand.”