Multcolib Picks: If you like 12 Years a Slave
Annotation:This is a made-for-television film originally released on PBS in 1984 starring Avery Brooks as Solomon Northup and is also based on the memoir 12 Years a Slave. While not as brutal or sharing some of the energetic immediacy of the new film, this version is a well-crafted work that still has the power to move the viewer.
Annotation:This miniseries was a huge hit in 1977. Based on Alex Haley’s best selling novel, it tells the story of Kunta Kinte from his enslavement in Africa in the mid-18th century to his descendents’ eventual freedom in the midst of the Civil War. It spawned two sequels; Roots: The Next Generations and Alex Haley’s Queen.
Annotation:This is based on the slave narrative of Olaudah Equiano. As a boy, Equiano was shipped to the Caribbean around 1750. He travelled much of the British empire as an enslaved sailor (not all slaves were farmhands) and was eventually able to purchase his own freedom.
Annotation:This is a documentary about the DeWolf family which made enormous sums of money in the African slave trade in the 18th century. The modern descendants of the family travel across the Atlantic to understand their family’s responsibility for slavery.
Annotation:This is based on an August Wilson play and tells the story of an African American family who possess an ornate piano that is connected to their ancestor’s lives as slaves. The family is conflicted as some wish to sell the heirloom while others see it as an important piece of their legacy.
Annotation:This is a fictional account based on the real experiences of Robert Gould Shaw, a white officer in the Union Army who commanded the 54th Massachusetts, the first black regiment in the Civil War. This is a very moving film filled with great performances.
Annotation:A group of Africans are illegally purchased by a Spanish slaver, but the slaves escape, murder much of the crew, and demand the survivors sail them back to Africa. Instead, the ship is captured off of the American coast. This leads to a difficult choice about what to do with the slaves: are they property and therefore salvage or human beings kidnapped from their home?
Annotation:This is based on the novel by Alice Walker. Set in the South in the early 20th century, it tells the story of Celie, an African American woman forced to live a life of abuse and squalor. Her life is not that different from that of a slave and the emotional arc of the film echoes that of 12 Years a Slave.
Annotation:A harrowing memoir about one of the darkest periods in American history. Solomon Northup, born a free man in New York, was lured to Washington, D.C., in 1841 with the promise of fast money, then drugged and beaten and sold into slavery.
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Solomon Northup was a free black man lured into a trap, kidnapped, and sold into slavery. The movie 12 Years a Slave is based on Northup’s memoir and is notable for the great performances and unflinching look at the brutality of slavery. While you wait for the movie, try some of these films to satisfy your interest in the topic.