By Shelby Fielding (Lubbock, Texas, USA)


The 13th: A Film That Provides Evidence on Modern-Day Systematic Slavery


The 13th is a Netflix original documentary directed by Ava DuVernay and stars Jelani Cobb, Angela Davis, Henry Louis Gates, and many other highly educated people who give a political, statistical, and emotionally driven dissertation on the problems with the racially provoked legislation created by the American government. They do this by using the strong evidence of the incarceration system, corporate funded legislation, and flawed ideas created by the American society and culture. Using this evidence the documentary creates a heartfelt, educational, and thought-provoking documentary that uses strong statistical evidence along with emotionally driven photography to offer a breathtaking understanding of their belief in that modern-day existence of systematic slavery in the United States of America.  

My Thoughts:

I felt completely moved by this film and its themes surrounding this topic. I’ve grown up in a white, middle class, law enforcement family that has strong conservative beliefs. And, this film made me second guess those beliefs and show more on my faith drove ideals and how they portray the thesis of this documentary. This film reflects mostly on the 13th amendment itself and how it states that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The film highlights the fact in how the amendment purposefully states that slavery is legal as long as it is in accordance to punishment for a crime. I was intrigued by this opening segment and it continues to mentally challenge by this film and its evidence supporting its claim. As the evidence presented by the film was incredibly difficult to argue with. The film uses a timeline of sorts to convey how former presidential administrations and corporate funded legislation has created mass incarceration system along with a racially painted picture for the American culture. The direction in the film is extraordinarily done by Ava DuVernay, especially in the way he makes the documentary flow very fluently. Making every evidential proof lead to the next one and the next one.


This film uses a timeline in an incredible way because the timeline itself helps the film find its footing and convey its message in a simple way. The use of media to create an emotional attachment to the thesis is done exceptionally well, by using edited comparisons of modern-day presidential candidate speeches to those of past societal and cultural instances. This film blew me away with its incredible direction and use of evidence to give so many conclusive reasoning that influences their ideology and beliefs to me as an individual. I truly loved it in every way, and agree with the message it is sending to the American people.


The flaws of the film really only centralize around the editing of the documentary. There are times becomes a little choppy which changes the tone and speed of the film, which can become a nuisance to film lovers with a good eye. However, this is a flaw that is only realized by film lovers and doesn’t affect the general audience in any way. The only other flaw that could be stated around the film’s production is if the person witnessing the film disagreed with the argument the director is making. If they do then they are probably going to hate the films use of factual evidence to support its argument and thesis. But, other than that this documentary is almost completely flawless.

Final Thoughts & Grade:

This film is a must see for every American who wants to hear both sides of the argument, and it provides a gritty, fact-driven, and well-directed argument to the idea of the modern-day existence of systematic slavery in America. I was emotionally moved to tears by this film and loved its use of evidence along with its use of media to help further convey its argument. I’m going to give the Netflix original documentary called The 13th an A+.

I do hope you watch this documentary just to truly understand both sides of the argument on today’s racially driven problems in America. It is a great way to tell average Americans on the issue and provides a simple understanding of the evidence used to support it. What did you guys think of the film? Will Netflix continue its amazing roll of awesome TV and movies? Let me know in the comments below and as always have a blessed day.

Rating: 5/5


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