The lives of black people in the American nation has been on the stake


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The lives of black people in the American nation has been on the stake, and this has been attributed to the violent nature of police in the sense of countering criminal activity in America. Black people have been subjected to a lot of cruelty compared to other races and ethnic groups in America, being beaten, killed and incarcerated in large numbers. Due to this, the filmmaker’s intention of the 13th Documentary was inspired, and it is the inspiration of the rights of the black people that motivated the filmmaker to produce the documentary. Ava Duvernay is the director of the film and among the people astonished by prejudices against the black people, it is through these mistreatments that she reconnected the history of black people to the present police brutality, attributing to what is happening in America as a replica of the slavery of the black people in the in history of America. The black people have not been free, and they have been made slaves working for the government in a more hidden way, mass incarceration to provide free labor. According to the filmmaker, the main intention is to bring awareness of the black people slavery and as well reduce the brutal killings of the black people through awareness that black lives as well do matter.

The overall impression of the documentary is of high quality as the filmmakers made the documentary in line with the subject matter. Furthermore, the film has images that depict the mistreatment of the black people as well as a large number of incarcerated individuals in the American prisons. Besides, data obtained from the previous years has been used to show the difference in the rate and number of incarceration of the black people, and this has made the film quality to be high as it is based on evidence and not fiction. Again, the documentary is based on the constitution’s amendment, ‘The 13th Amendment’ that prohibited slavery of the black people. The documentary, therefore, is valid and provides precise data. Camera quality and the organization of the scenes as well have been made of high quality providing clear images as well as relevant content that are supported by personal experiences through narration, and this makes the documentary purely raw data and therefore making it of high quality. However, at the closing statements of the documentary, there are short and low-quality videos that are played one after the other all depicting the death of black men by the hands of the American police.

The plot of the documentary begins with covering the 1915 civil war drama which is the birth of a nation, and this focuses on how the black people were treated at the time in the film. The documentary as well goes ahead to criticize both sides of the aisle, and this includes from that of President Ronald Regan-war on drugs to that of Bill Clinton- three strikes policy, analyzing each of the movements with thorough discussions, and this allows a new perspective from each side. The documentary obtains its title from the thirteenth amendment with the claim that the clause allows for the incarceration for the purpose of enslaving the African American in another name. In the documentary, the period preceding slavery is rushed in about five minutes, and a large part of the documentary involves a lot of engaging walk through a narrative of mass incarceration. A lot of primary evidence is provided in the documentary with the examples of past president Barrack Obama saying that the population of the United States has a 5% global population, but it has the largest number of the world’s prison attributing to 25% making the US have the highest incarceration rates in the world. Among the incarcerated, 40% are black people while the rest is shared among the other races in the US.

The 13th documentary involves the presentation of facts through interviews with imprisoned personnel and as well uses voiceovers to present the facts. The interviews and voiceovers are accompanied by video clips, music, animations, and graphics content that in black and white with the main purpose of strengthening the message delivered by the facts. The musical lyrics used in the documentary are from the black American rappers who have written songs against the African brutality by the police. There are as well short slowed animations that portray black men dying in the hands of the American police, and this passes a direct message to the viewer that the black people are discriminated against. The documentary as well has incorporated the use of dull episodes that is used to depict moments of sorrow to drive empathy to the viewers.

Besides, some of the animations that are in black and white depict the early times when the black was being mistreated in history. All the elements of the film, including aspects of lighting work hand in hand to convey a common message as well as drive a common emotion to the viewers. In overall, the use of mise-en-scene has been used in a great way as the costumes, positioning of the actors, set design, as well as the props, are set in a way that relates with the topic. The costumes of the prisoners, as well as the prison locations, has as well been shot in relation to the topic. Also, the musical lyrics used in the documentary blends well with the topic and therefore the mise-en-scene has been used to detail in the documentary.


DuVernay, A., Averick, S., & Barish, H. (2016). 13th [Documentary]. United States: Netflix.