Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave (2013)

twelve_years_a_slave_xlgWhat it’s about: In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Genre: Biography, Drama, History

Rating: 15

Director: Steve McQueen

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch Lupita Nyong’o,

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Review: I’ve actually been somewhat worried about typing up this review because I’m fully aware that I am completely contradicting myself in my opinion. I also kind of feel that considering what this film is about, I’m not allowed to say anything negative about it and I feel really bad for thinking so. It was a good film, in fact, it was an amazing film and it definitely did everything it set out to do. I was shocked and moved. It left me emotional at parts and fuming at others. It was disturbing and gut-wrenching and humiliating but I’m not sure I got out of it what was intended. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood to watch it when I did or maybe there was something else on my mind throughout, I don’t know but I’m sure that if I had watched this film at another point in time, I’d probably feel differently. I have seen many reviews expressing how deeply moved by it they was and they haven’t been able to stop thinking about it afterwards and whilst it did move me, of course it did, I actually had to cover my ears at one point because the noise of what was happening was unbearable, after the film was finished that was it. It was just another film. I just got on with my night without a second thought about it. I don’t know whether that’s because I don’t really know much about the subject matter or what but despite the actions in the film horrifying me to my very core, the actual film itself, I felt, didn’t have that effect on me. Whereas I think it probably should have…

The acting in this film was sensational – second to none. Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays the main character, Soloman Northup is definitely worthy for of an award for Best Actor at the Oscars (I, however will still be rooting for my Leo, sorry). He makes you feel for him so much but never once making you feel like all was lost. He stood his ground, he stood up for himself and I loved that about him. Lupita Nyong’o plays Patsey, a woman who is another slave to Mistress and Edwin Epps, the second family Soloman gets sold to. She really draws the short straw and gets whipped profusely, raped by Edwin and is generally singled out. Lupita plays this role with, am I allowed to say dignity? She portrays that girl’s emotions so well and for a pretty small role she shone. Along with Michael Fassbender, she landed some of the more intense scenes throughout the film so it has to take some actress to pull these off realistically with a level head. Brad Pitt’s character, Bass plays the man who frees Soloman at the end by sending a letter home to his family telling them where he is and what has happened. Bass is literally in this film for less than 20 minutes is the first white person in the film to stand up for the slaves and confront Edwin Epps about it. His dialogue was so strong and in those few scenes, he sums ups entirely what is wrong with mankind and slavery.

Personally, the films I enjoy the most are those which are an ultimate visual experience. Attractive actors, stunning scenery and visual effects makes up a 5 star film for me but those traits were not what this film was about and that’s not a bad thing considering the nature of this film. It was about the story, the true story and the man behind it. It was about the disgusting ways in which white people used to discriminate against black people and the conditions they were put under than I’m sure 95% of us knew nothing about. It was definitely eye-opening and educational so I think I needed to stop comparing it to everything else and appreciate it for what it was; a sad, moving but true story about one of the worst things mankind has ever done. It shows the inequality between races, the horrific conditions and the intensity of the entire situation and for everyone who had to endure that, I’m sorry.

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7 thoughts on “Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave (2013)

  1. Great review and I don’t think you can feel ashamed about feeling nothing after the film. It was incredibly done with amazing acting, effects and music and Solomon’s story was heart-wrenching but actually the film was nothing we hadn’t seen before. Its just incredible that he was able to tell his story and lucky that he had the education and status to do so

    • You said it better than I did! Haha.

      That’s exactly what I meant though – the film as in the FILM wasn’t spectacular, the story however absolutely was and of course it’s incredible that he was able to tell everyone his story on such a big scale and raise awareness of such a horrific issue. But obviously it wasn’t the intention to make the film a huge spectacle with fireworks and special effects and fire-breathing dragons and all that just to tell the story!

  2. Pingback: 12 Years a Slave | Chewy Reviews

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