Hollywood movies are notoriously good at reducing complex problems to isolated, emotional experiences. The happy endings of films on racial themes reflect Americans' collective investment in concluding a conversation that has barely begun.
Mother Nature, the power of a nascent storytelling art form in the televised mini-series, and a nation largely ignorant of and reluctant to come to terms with the horrors of its slave-owning past conspired to create a 'perfect storm' of enlightenment in America.
12 Years a Slave is not the first film to assail its audience with a harrowing tale of human suffering. I am now left wondering why droves of people would willingly, and maybe even eagerly, go to the cinema to experience something so relentlessly bleak.