12 Years A Slave Representation

1137 Words5 Pages
This paper will discuss how media concepts can help us understand scriptwriting. Using the concepts of representation and race, I will discuss the strengths and limitations of representation in the film 12 Year A Slave and how the characters in 12 Years A Slave differ from typical slave stereotypes in western films. Also, this paper shall discuss importance of representation in historical period dramas. 12 Year A Slave is a critically acclaim film adaption of the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, a born free African –American from Saratoga, New York who was kidnapped in Washington in 1841 and sold into slavery. The film received many praises from audiences and media outlets, the film was awarded with titles such as Best Film, Best Actor and…show more content…
Firstly, representation is important in scriptwriting especially when the writer wants to convey different parts of the world, people, settings and eras. According to Branston and Stafford (2010), the representation has several aspects to it, one of the aspects states ‘however realistic or compelling some media images seem, they never simply present the world direct. They are always a construction, a re-presentation, rather than a mirror, or a clear ‘window on to the real’ ’. Since the film is based on a memoir of Solomon’s account on slavery, the script may or may not be a true depiction on slavery - needless to say John Ridley constructed the script with creative imagery as well as historical knowledge of US slavery and Solomon’s memoir. In the film’s script, Ridley depicts the town of Saratoga, New York, the town where Solomon Northup lived and roamed freely. Ridley described the scenery as ‘most are white, but there are blacks as well’ and uses the word ‘freed’ as an adjective to describe newly free black slaves. Also Ridley conveys how slaves were treated in the south, stating that…show more content…
Historical period drama is a genre of films that attempts to faithfully depict a specific time period (). Representation helps us ways of imagining particular groups, identities and situations. Like all historical period dramas, the writer must depict identities or situations that most of the world no longer see or can identify and through films like 12 Years A Slave representation of types can educate us a fragment of their history. For instance, the character of slave owner William Ford can be known as a generic type. Generic type is character familiar through use in a particular genre; in this case a historical period drama about slavery. In slavery, some slave owners were known to be ‘decent’, in my own words the term ‘decent’ refers to slave owner who treated their slaves with a bit of respect, and because many media adaptation of slavery encounter ‘decent’ slave owners, the type has become an generic type and can be identify now in many other media texts such as TV miniseries Roots (). The character of Dr. William Reynolds, the second slave owner of protagonist Kunta Kinta, treated the slaves on his plantation with more respect, he allowed privileges such as marriage and in the same way William Ford’s slaves were allowed to attend church services. Privileges that were most probably taken away from most slaves in that era. The

More about 12 Years A Slave Representation

Open Document