Monday, March 17, 2014

Tread-Marks

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I finally saw Steve McQueen's powerful film 12 Years a Slave. I keep writing about it in my head but I also keep running into a wall: what to say? Gripping? Moving? Agonizing? Devastating? Important? Art? Yes to all. A non-fiction horror film? Truly.

My apologies but in my opinion, it's not much of a spoiler to quote the last line of the film: "there's nothing to forgive." Although I haven't yet formulated an interpretation I am satisfied with, I find that very meaningful. Perhaps that's the point. Earlier in the film there's an extended scene where I thought the protagonist was attempting to make eye contact with the audience, with me, and whether that was my imagination or if indeed it was intentional, I felt a shameful surge in that moment: complicity.

Mark Twain said, "forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that crushes it." Perhaps this film is is like that act itself, both the crushing heel and the scent that survives. Either way, history's tread-marks remain. The protagonist says at one point, "I don't want to survive, I want to live." Better yet, thrive. That is what we all want and this is what we all deserve. So let us all tread softly.

5 comments:

Pickleope Von Pickleope said...

That's a great Twain quote. I have yet to see the movie knowing that it's going to be a hard watch that'll leave me in a funk for a while. But I also know it's important to understand the real horrors and not the homogenized history book version.

Adam said...

I haven't seen it yet, like most Oscar winners I never hear about it until it gets nominated

Vinny C said...

I've been meaning to get to this movie. Mostly I've been putting it off because my wife saw it already & said it was seriously "heavy". I'll make the time. It seems worth the watch.

msprimadonna67 said...

I watched this movie with my husband not long ago. Difficult to watch to be sure, but well worth the investment. A very powerful film.

Mel said...

Beautiful words for a beautiful idea. It was a meaningful movie, well done and unflinching. Our audience left in silence - I wonder though, how much it stuck.

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