Intro Avery: Hi! My name is Avery, and I’m here with my partner Lily. We are here today to analyze a scene from 12 years a slave. This scene can become very gruesome, and heart-wrenching to watch, so we understand if you cannot continue with this analysis.
Intro Lily: Before we start off, we would like to share a quote we found from The Atlantic: “It’s scenes like these in the film, surely, that lead critic Susan Wloszczyna to state that watching 12 Years a Slave makes you feel you have “actually witnessed American slavery in all its appalling horror for the first time.” Now, Thank you so much in advance for watching, and we hope you enjoy the analysis we came up with for the kidnapping scene of 12 years a slave.
Avery: At the beginning of this scene, we can see that Solomon wakes up in the middle of sunlight signifying what he knows. There is darkness surrounding supporting the idea of the Unknown. When he begins to wake up we cannot notice the chains on his wrists. As begins to move into the light, his chains become apparent to us and the actor.
Lily: As we jump to a flashback of Solomon throwing up we see again the emphasis on light and shadow. With the two mysterious men in the shade while the obvious signs of Solomon throwing up in the light. When he first met them he had a clear sign of who and what men’s intentions were but as he woke up his memories and impressions of the men became unclear. You see his unknown knowledge of what the men look like and who they really are from the light and shadow.
Avery: We come back to the present moment with Solomon trying to understand where the chains coming from the darkness lead. We then see as he moves into the light, his legs and chains become apparent making him feel helpless in any form.
Lily: In this flashback, you can see all faces obscured from view showing that Solomon had no idea what was happening. The dialogue helps us understand the mysterious intentions of the two men. As we can see Solomon obviously looks drunk but Hamilton’s need to tell a passerby that Solomon had one too many drinks emphasizes an ulterior motive than making sure he gets home safe.
Avery: As we reach back to the present, we can see the immense amounts of struggle caused by the chains. We only see his back as he tries hard to stand up. The lack of light signifies the unknown of what has happened to him, and how he cannot begin to accept the idea of being a slave once again. He begins to pull on the chains from the darkness, unknowledgeable of where they lead. As he pulls, chains and chains keep coming, making our main character even more angered than he started off as.
Conclusion Lily: In conclusion, we learn throughout this scene that the light and dark shadows of the room play against Solomon’s knowledge of the situation at hand. Because of this, we can see that the trauma at hand will attest to Solomon’s future.
Conclusion Avery: As we end this analysis, we would like to show off a review from Roger Ebert: “as the audience wipes their tears and gather the strength to leave their seats, their minds will be filled with one thought: That they have actually witnessed American slavery in all its appalling horror for the very first time.” Thank you so much for watching, and we hope we made the scene clearer for you.
Sources: 12 Years a Slave movie review (2013) | Roger Ebert How ‘12 Years a Slave’ Gets History Right: By Getting It Wrong - The Atlantic