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Slavery in Film, a selection


2022 - A runaway slave forges through the swamps of Louisiana on a tortuous journey to escape plantation owners that nearly killed him ((MDB).

An American thriller set in Louisiana in the 1860s after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in secessionist Confederate states.

Written by William N. Collage, the biographical film is loosely based on a possibly conglomerated story of the lives of either or both of two formerly enslaved Black men named Gordon and "Whipped Peter". The story was made famous by a photograph of a man's bare back heavily scourged from an overseer's whippings was published worldwide in a magazine in 1863. The image gave the abolitionist movement proof of the cruelty of slavery (Wikipedia).


2019 - The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America's greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history (IMDB).

In 1849, Araminta “Minty” Ross (Cynthia Erivo) flees the Maryland farm where she spent her life enslaved. Thrillingly, her escape is the film’s first act – she journeys 100 miles on foot to the free state of Philadelphia and the Anti-Slavery Society, where she befriends black activists William Still (Leslie Odom Jr) and Marie Buchanon (Janelle Monáe) and takes the name Harriet Tubman. The remainder of the film sees her taking several perilous trips back to the south to free her family from slave catchers, both black and white (The Guardian).

Birth of a Nation

2016 - Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in the antebellum South, orchestrates an uprising (IMDB).

The Birth of a Nation premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, where Fox Searchlight Pictures bought worldwide rights to the film in a $17.5 million deal (at the time the largest deal at the festival), and won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition.

Twelve Years a Slave

2013 - Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery - Won 3 Oscars - 242 wins & 337 nominations total (IMDB)

A biographical drama film based on the 1853 slave memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, an African American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery (Wikipedia)..


2012 -

The screenplay by Tony Kushner was loosely based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's 2005 biography, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. It covers the final four months of Lincoln's life with particular focus on his efforts in January 1865, to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude by having the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the United States House of Representatives (Wikipedia).

Amazing Grace

2006 - The idealist William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) maneuvers his way through Parliament, endeavouring to end the British transatlantic slave trade (IMDB)

A biographical drama about the abolitionist campaign against the slave trade in the British Empire, led by William Wilberforce, a key advocate in the battle to steer anti-slave trade legislation through the British parliament.

The title is a reference to the 1772 hymn "Amazing Grace" written by John Newton, who worked on a slave ship until his religious conversion, after which he joined the Abolitionist movement. Newton was a staunch supporter and mentor for Wilberforce (Wikipedia)..


1998 - Based on the book by Toni Morrison, in which a slave is visited by the spirit of a mysterious young woman (IMDB

A psychological drama film starring Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, and Thandiwe Newton. The plot centers on a formerly enslaved person after the American Civil War, her haunting by a poltergeist, and the visitation of her reincarnated daughter.


1997 - In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free (IMDB).

An American historical drama directed by Steven Spielberg. It is based on the events in 1839 aboard the Spanish slave ship La Amistad, when Mende tribesmen abducted for the slave trade managed to gain control of their captors' ship off the coast of Cuba. An international legal battle followed their capture and the case was ultimately resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1841 (Wikipedia)..


1989 - An American war drama about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the Union Army's earliest African-American regiments in the American Civil War.

It stars Matthew Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the regiment's commanding officer, and Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman as fictional members of the 54th.

The men learn that in response to the Emancipation Proclamation, the Confederacy has issued an order that captured black men are to be returned to slavery. Black soldiers found wearing uniforms will be executed as well as their white officers. Shaw offers honourable discharges to any man who does not want to fight, but no one takes his offer (Wikipedia).

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