Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave

Posted November 18, 2013 by shooting in Uncategorized / 10 Comments

12 Years a Slave

Movie Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Review: I knew that this would be a well-done film with amazing performances. However, it wasn’t something I was planning on seeing in theaters. A friend of mine wanted to go, though, so I went along and highly appreciated the story being told.

Chiwetel Ejiofor does an outstanding job as Solomon Northup. Everyone knows about slavery, though there are always parts of it that I never learned in school. When I heard about 12 Years a Slave, it was shocking (though I have to admit, not surprising) to hear that free black men were kidnapped and placed into slavery. Solomon didn’t have his papers and was unable to prove that he was free. Everyone told him he was someone else; a slave, a man named Platt. Solomon had to hold on to his true identity in order to survive his years as a slave. He had a wife and two kids; he had a family he was always desperate to see again.

Movies like these are always difficult to watch because I hate seeing people act with such cruelty and lack of humanity. Michael Fassbender, as Edwin Epps, was one of the worst characters in the movie, as he truly believed that the slaves were his property and he could do to them as he pleased. Epps was one of the worst masters for Solomon, pushing him until most men would break.

I appreciated the performances of Benedict Cumberbatch (Ford) and Brad Pitt (Bass) because they showed that not all white people in this time were beyond saving. Cumberbatch plays the first master Solomon is sold too, and while Ford has slaves, he is not without mercy. He tries to do his best to keep Solomon safe, and when Ford buys Solomon, there is an emotional scene where Ford tries to keep a family together.

As for Brad Pitt’s character, Bass, he comes into Solomon’s life later. He’s a Canadian man that believes everyone is equal, black and white. He challenges Epps’ beliefs, even though there is no getting through to a man like him. Bass plays a small, but very important part in the film.

Throughout the movie, the only date shown is in the very beginning. As this film shows 12 years of Solomon’s life, I expected there to be dates shown throughout. The lack of them was odd at first, but eventually, I began to suspect that they were left out so that viewers could experience part of the never-ending experience that Solomon would have went through. Twelve years is a long time, and watching a long movie that does not give you express time makes the experience of watching seem longer and more involved.

Overall, this was a beautifully shot film. There is some graphic violence in parts, but it is only used in key moments.

In the end, the story of Solomon North is painful, yet hopeful.

10 responses to “Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave

  1. I both can't wait to see this one, because I adore McQueen's movies, and have been waiting on it because I know it's gonna be a tough story. Maybe I can meet up with my friend R over Thanksgiving to see it.

  2. This sounds like one that would be very emotional for me. I think it's one I would want to see in the privacy of my own home. I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before.

  3. Yeah, I bet this was difficult to watch!! It's hard seeing the worst of humanity and display and know that it is real, that it actually happened in our history. But it's still important to see and learn about no matter how difficult it is. It's nice that it is also hopeful though! It's great that you loved it so much – I hope to see it myself sometime soon.

  4. Have you read the book for this? I read it in school and was so moved by the story. I was confused by the lack of dates as well but did not come up with a good theory like you did. I'll have to share that with my mom as it was something we discussed after seeing it.

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