*For those who have a problem with the graphic violence depicted in “12 Years a Slave,” the film’s screenwriter advises you to look at the book it is based.
Chatting with Journal-isms‘ Richard Prince after co-hosting the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Hall of Fame Induction gala, John Ridley said that “12 Years a Slave” is simply faithful to Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir.
“The source material is there,” said Ridley, who added that critics of the film’s violent depictions must not have read the book.
Ridley’s response comes amid the expulsion of Armond White from the New York Film Critics Circle. The CityArts editor and movie critic was recently kicked out of the organization after heckling “12 Years” director Steve McQueen at the Circle’s annual awards dinner. In his review of the film, White labeled “12 Years” as “torture porn.”
Despite White’s review, “12 Years a Slave” is riding a wave of good fortune on it’s way to the Oscars. The feature, which is nominated for nine Academy Awards, captured a Golden Globe award for best drama last week at the star-studded event.
The film adaptation of “12 Years a Slave” isn’t the first version of Northrup’s book to be seen by the public. A TV version produced for the “American Playhouse” series by the late Gordon Parks aired in 1984 on PBS. The big difference between the two versions is the small screen adaptation did not contain any of the brutality depicted in the movie version.
Ridley’s Oscar nomination for best-adapted screenplay on his work on “12 Years” did not go unnoticed at the NABJ gala as he received applause from the audience while serving as co-host.
“The prize goes to Solomon Northup,” Ridley told the crowd. “It’s his story, his words, it’s his life. He ended up reporting on something most people did not.”