Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Written By: John Ridley
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 2 hr 14 min
Is it possible that it took an outsiders perspective to properly tell the story of slavery in America? 12 Years a Slave is a seriously powerful film, largely due to Steve McQueen’s firm fearless direction, and incredible attention to detail. I loved how the story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was juxtaposed with incredible shots of his natural surroundings in New Orleans. Such beautiful things, surrounding the ugly topic of slavery.
This film I think is a testament to the human condition. The ability of some people to endure the cruelty of others. To remain hopeful that their situation will improve, when there is little reason to believe that. The film also speaks to some peoples self destructive natures. Allowing power to corrupt their beliefs, and erode who they are from the inside out.
The cast are amazing in this film. Chiwetel Ejiofor perfectly communicates the plight of a man with a difficult decision to make. Fight for freedom and dignity, and likely be killed, or keep your head down and hold onto hope. Michael Fassbenber as Edwin Epps also delivers another great performance, as do all. I was however really impressed with Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey. Caught between her lustful drunk owner Edwin, and the equally vicious and jealous Mistress Epps. Her performance at times was truly heartbreaking.
This is not an easy film to watch. It covers a serious topic, and does not pull any punches telling it. Be in the mood for a serious film before you sit down to watch this. It’ll upset you, and make you angry. It will also move you, and you’ll be glad you took the time to watch it.
The photography is one of many reasons to see this film. It deserves a large digital screen. A matinee showing will suffice. At home, a HD viewing for sure.
Best moment for me: << spoiler >>
Solomon is strung up, and left hanging just a few inches off the ground. He can barely touch the ground with his feet, but he must in order not to choke on the rope around his neck. The shot stays on him has he keeps pushing against the ground. All I remember hearing was the sound of Solomon choking, and the squelching as he kept pushing against the mud with his feet. The camera give us several different views of this struggle, as everyone around him continues with their work.