Netflix has a great collection of movies about slavery that educate us about the past heinous crimes against enslaved people and those under oppression. While it is always good to learn our history from the literature, a cinematic account of such acts can give you a deeper understanding evoking strong emotions and feelings about what actually happened. Meanwhile, it also intends to raise awareness to prevent history from repeating itself.
Be it about black history, or if you want to get a general perspective, we have made this list of the best Netflix Movies on Slavery for you to understand. Let’s look at some of the best movies on slavery that you can watch on Netflix.
Best slavery movies on Netflix!
This movie list outlines some of the most realistic slavery movies ever made. Most of which are based on literature and account of enslaved people, portraying the worst encounter of exploitation of human rights by influential people.
Nonetheless, all the movies are currently available to watch on Netflix.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)
Talking about the slavery movies, one cannot forget to mention the beautiful yet cruel piece of art; Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. This film outlines the struggles of Nelson Mandela and how he fought for the freedom of Africans.
This movie portrays different events in African history from Mandela’s point of view. And explains how a lawyer fights against Apartheid after the Sharpeville massacre. The film shows the humble beginning of the African revolutionary, President, and world icon. However, the cinema critically outlines the Sharpeville massacre and the anti-apartheid movement.
The character of Mandela, played by one of the finest Hollywood actor Idris Alba provides complete justice to the role. Since the movie is based on Mandela’s autobiography, it is clear that the film depicts his vision. It also explains how Mandela co-founded ANCYL (African National Congress Youth League) and how his action led to his life imprisonment. The movie portrays historical events; thus, the film has an impressive 7.1 rating on IMDB. It is one of the best slavery movies on Netflix you can start with.
Django Unchained (2012)
The next movie on the list is one of Quentin Tarantino’s masterpieces, starring Jamie Foxx & Leo DiCaprio. The story of Django Unchained is majorly fictional, but many real-life characters have influenced it.
With an objective to portray slavery, and how brutally people were treated for their skin color; this story revolves around Django, an enslaved person who is now free and has joined forces with bounty hunters to save his wife. And Calvin, played by Leo DiCaprio, a plantation owner, has enslaved her.
Too much explanation of the plot will spoil the movie, so I have provided a brief synopsis of the film. Meanwhile, the movie also has an 8.5 rating on IMDB. The movie provokes deep emotion even after being a fictional story. It clearly outlines the cruelty of slavery and racism, making it a must-watch slavery movie on Netflix.
Battleship Island (2017)
Battleship Island is a fact-based fiction film that is based on Hashima Island history. Director Ryoo Seung-wan has been phenomenal in portraying the hardship of 400 Korean laborers enslaved on the Island. However, the story outlines the life-threatening risk taken by the Koreans forced on the Island in an escape attempt.
The movie is set during WW2, highlighting Korea’s Colonial occupation by Imperial Japan. The film stars some of the finest Korean actors and provides a realistic yet emotional feel to the movie.
Without spoiling the movie with too much information, it is one of the finest movies on the topic of slavery you can watch on Netflix. The film has a 7.1 rating on IMDB because of its story and great cinematography. Meanwhile, the director has explained the film is fact-based and closely depicts the situation of Koreans on the Island. The movie has faced quite a criticism for being factually correct. It provides first-hand testimony of the victims considering their lack of payment, abusive treatment, and harsh working conditions. A must-watch to educate yourself about Korean History.
13TH – A Documentary (2016)
13TH is one of the best slavery documentaries available on Netflix. This thought-provoking slavery documentary explains the 13 amendments, activists, scholars, and politicians outlining the criminalization of black people through mass incarceration and prison boom.
Ava DuVernay directed this movie to explain the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration of black people. It is titled after the 13 Amendments of the United States Constitution adopted in 1865, abolishing slavery throughout the country. It also explains the increase in the number of prisoners in the United States from 1970 to 2014 from 357292 to more than 2.3 million.
However, the director’s objective was to critically examine law and order. And at the same time, explaining how misplaced fear was used to justify violence against black people. Nonetheless, it also outlines racial discrimination in drug sentences during the crack epidemic.
I am not your Negro (2017)
The next movie on the list is I Am Not Your Negro, based on James Balwin’s unfinished manuscript ‘Remember the house‘. The film explains the history of racism in the United States through the recollection of Balwin about the civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr, along with his observation of the country’s history.
Samuel L. Jackson narrates the documentary, who is one of the famous Hollywood actors and speakers. The opening scene shows Baldwin’s interview on The Dick Cavett Show in 1968. It got critical appreciation and won significant awards, including BAFTA for best documentary.
With a 7.9 rating on IMDB, you can easily stream the movie on Netflix. The documentary triggers strong emotions as it gives you a realistic tour of the hardship of black people and what they went through. Meanwhile, the documentary provides significant historic accuracy making it one of the best slavery movies on Netflix.
One of the best biographical movies ever made explaining the history of slavery and greatness is the movie, Harriet. The movie explores the struggle of Harriet Tubman from being a slave to being one of the greatest American heroes. The film explains the situation faced by black people in the 1940s. However, the movie not only focuses on exploring slavery but also the struggle and fights of the people towards freedom. Harriet escaping from being enslaved by a plantation owner to becoming an abolitionist is significant. However, explaining the plot will spoil the movie, so it is better to watch it on Netflix.
The movie has an impressive 6.6 rating on IMDB, though I believe it deserves more. Apart from the story and acting, it also gives a fantastic cinematography experience to the people watching it. The actors’ sets, costumes, and dialogue delivery make it one of the great slavery movies on Netflix. The movie raises solid feelings and emotions as it perfectly portrays the situation.
The Black GodFather (2019)
If we are talking about great movies on slavery and not mentioning this gem will be an injustice to the list. The movie/documentary “The Black Godfather” outlines the life of Clarence Avant. As the man who sort of held Hollywood music, this film shows the power of Clarence, and how he was involved in almost all the deals regarding black pieces, culture, and civil rights. The movie shows the early life of Avant by critically reflecting on the slavery issue and how it impacts his life.
The documentary stands with a good 7.4 rating on IMDB. The documentary is based on the saying of the people Avant worked with, which makes it more fascinating. It shows significant events in the past in great detail, making it one of the finest movies made on slavery.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom explores the life of Ma Rainey, a strong-willed blues singer, and how she explains the life of a black artist during the 1920s. This movie may not show the accounts of hardcore slavery and its struggles, but what remains of it.
The story revolves around Ma Rainey, hired by a White Producer to record songs with her fellow band members in Chicago. Her character quotes in the movie that the white bosses are only interested in her voice, and without that, she is just a dog in the alley. With all this, the film shows different events during the recording of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
The move has around 6.9 rating on IMDB and 97% on rotten tomatoes highlighting the impact and message to the audience. The movie accurately portrays the character and situation in the past to give a simple overview of the problem. The film is critically acclaimed for portraying truth, making it one of the best black history movies available on Netflix.
12 Years a Slave (2013)
The movie 12 Years a Slave is one of the greatest movies depicting slavery through the lens. It is directed by Steve McQueen and stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is playing the role of Solomon Northup. The movie is based on the autobiography of Northup, a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery. He remained an enslaved person for 12 years until he was free, thus the movie’s title. Meanwhile, the film also outlines how people used to trick free black men into slavery. The movie 12 years a slave is definitely worth watching if you want to know more about slavery and cruelty back in the day.
The movie has an IMDB rating of 8.1 and 95% on rotten tomatoes, which explains why the film is worth watching. The story exploring the life of a free black man tricked into slavery can evoke solid feelings and emotions. The movie’s objective is to use art to portray the hardship and struggle of one of the many people sent into slavery. The phenomenal acting and cinematography make it one of the best slavery movies available on Netflix.
La Esclava Blanca
The next movie in this list is quite different, as it explores the situation of a white orphan girl taken by enslaved black people. The movie portrayed Colombia in 1821, and the story revolves around an orphan white girl and her family, which consist of enslaved Black people. The film’s plot is based on a historical lie said by the critics. However, it is one of the great movies depicting the struggle and hardship of slavery. It also shows a perspective of black people who had a family while working as a slave.
The movie stands with a strong 8.1 rating on IMDB, signifying the response of viewers towards the film. The movie shakes different emotions as the actors have portrayed their characters beautifully. While there is a debate on the movie’s historical truth, but it is one good piece of art that one should definitely watch.
Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India
Lagaan is a famous Bollywood movie shot in the context of Indians under British rule. It showcases the hardship and struggles that Indians faced during that era. This movie is partially based on the actual events, where people had to pay handsome taxes (called “Lagaan” in the Hindi Language) to Britishers, or else they will face punishments from their officials.
This movie stars one of the famous Bollywood actors, Amir Khan (Playing the character of Bhuvan) as the movie’s protagonist. In the movie, he accepts the challenge to play a game of cricket with British officials. If he wins, will settle the unprecedented land tax for which they were protesting. The whole movie is around him making a team, learning the game, and winning it, providing drama, music, struggles, and tons of emotions at the same time.
With a rating of 8.1 on IMDB, it can be an excellent movie to understand the cruelty of British colonialism. However, the movie balances it out with funny and witty scenes and many stereotypical statements. Considering this, the film is one of the best movies depicting slavery during British rule in India.
Wrapping up: Best Slavery Movies on Netflix
If you are looking for some of the best movies on the topic of Slavery, this list has covered the best movie’s art and cinematography gems on this sensitive topic. We have tried our best to provide you with a list of great movies exploring the struggle and hardship of black people and other races who have faced slavery.
You can start with the movie with the best IMDB rating, and follow through. If you want to watch movies while traveling, you can also check our guide on how to download movies on Netflix.