12 Years A Slave

85bd9675e36eb6b747cc04ef3c2967f9.124.82 12 Years A SlaveSteve McQueens “12 Years A Slave” is nothing like the crass comedies, futuristic action-adventure, and horror films one may typically entertain themselves with during a night out at the cinema, in fact, there is nothing entertaining about it. The film is cinema at its finest-from the long camera shots that hold steady to capture the essence of a character to the development of the story that brings this autobiography to life.

Based on the novel written in 1820 by Solomon Northup , the film narrates the life of a free black man living in the 1800′s who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Its brutally accurate and graphic depiction of slavery brings to the surface, the highest level of discomfort that one could possibly experience over the course of a feature length film.

The films uncomfortably lengthy shots of men hanging from trees and close-ups of individuals wiped back make for startling, eye-covering moments that no Hollywood thriller could ever recreate.”12 Years A Slave” is superior to all in its class, and, sports one of my favorite introductions “based on a true story.”

Despite the undeniable feeling of discomfort and intense subject matter, “12 Years A Slave” is still a beautiful production. It’s the type of film that one shouldn’t enjoy seeing but one that everyone should see-recounting important segments of our nations history that should never be forgotten (and masterfully done so as well.)

The film is so well scripted you often find yourself right there with these characters, cutting cane and falling victim to their intolerable environment.  It’s the pulsating pauses that keep you completely entwined, and collective silent gasps from the audience make you realize that what we are all taking in at crucial moments.

For those of us who saw Roots when it was released many years ago, 12 Years A Slave brings back that storyline in a down to earth and important film for those who forgot or for those generations to far removed from Alex Haley’s story.

1 comment on this post.
  1. Andrea:

    The Executive Director of Boston’s Museum of African American History, Beverly Morgan-Welch, and WCVB-TV’s Karen Holmes Ward each spoke before the screening that I attended. They gave a bit of the history of what was going on in the world during the time the film takes place. It was quite helpful in adding even more perspective to the film. It’s odd that people are afraid to see this film because of the graphic torture and abuse and yet the same people have no qualms about seeing such films as HUNGER GAMES or whatever is the new torture-for-amusement-film. Here we have a film based on a real person’s story. For those who are afraid that it will be depressing, 12 YEARS A SLAVE is based on the autobiography of Solomon Northrup so obviously he will be freed. I shouldn’t be surprised that this is not a story we studied in history in school, and yet I am surprised.
    The film is impressive. The acting is out of this world fantastic. They somehow are all able to come together (they meaning everyone who worked together to create this film) and create a world that is so believable, it’s as if you are there. They also answer your questions along the way. You say to yourself, “Why didn’t he…?” and then you see why, or you wonder “Couldn’t she have….?” and then you see that there was no other choice. You put yourself in the place of any of the character and see the trap of the world. There was a Q & A after the film and one person brought up something I had been thinking when he compared it to the for-profit prison system we have today. Where one is no longer considered human once they enter the prison and rights disappear to basic dignities. People are snatched up and placed in prison. Not exactly the same, but on a similar road.
    I was on the edge of my seat for this entire film. It broke my heart often and moved me in powerful waves of emotion.
    I hope this film does well in the various award events. It certainly wins acting, directing, cinematography, editing and more in my book. Well done everyone!

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