12 YEARS A SLAVE Reaction

(This is my unfiltered reaction (with no spoilers) after getting back from seeing 12 Years a Slave last night. This was all typed between 11:30pm-12am and I just checked for spelling errors today before posting.)

I just got back from seeing 12 Years a Slave and I’ll tell you straight away – everything everyone’s been saying about this film is true. It is a fantastic, heart-breaking, it’s difficult to watch yet a masterpiece of film.

The whole cast’s performances are incredible. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael Fassbender deserve all the awards that they are nominated for and if Ejiofor and Nyong’o do not get Oscar nominations tomorrow I will not be held responsible for my actions. If they don’t go on to win said Oscars I will be forever disappointed in Hollywood. They are all fantastic. They are phenomenal.

The direction of this film is perfect – I’ve not seen a Steve McQueen film before but the way he would focus on traumatic ordeals and make the audience watch and take it in is to be commended. There’s a continuous shot that pans around to see the various characters reactions to an event that must have lasted for at least three minutes – shots like that makes this film so powerful and thought provoking.

The score was fantastic. I don’t know what instruments were used but some clearly didn’t sound right together and it put you on edge. It made me tense and apprehensive about what was going to happen to Solomon next. Hats off to the composer, whoever they are. (I just googled it and it’s Hans Zimmer – of course it is the bloody genius!)

This film is so powerful because it doesn’t hold back. The brutality is in your face and it doesn’t let you shy away from that horrible part of human history.

I cried at the end of the film, I had tears running down my face and when the credits began to roll allowed myself to sob (not so) quietly. You are there on this journey with Solomon and it’s almost impossible to believe that this all happened to him. When he cries, I was crying with him. There were a few other parts during the film where I had tears in my eyes but it was nothing compared to the final few shots and the title cards explaining more about Solomon’s later life.

I feel that everyone should see this film at some point in their lives. It is a difficult film to watch and it won’t leave you once you step out of that cinema screen but that’s what makes it so great and unforgiving. I can’t quite find the words to give this film justice. I cannot recommend it highly enough and it deserves every accolade. I have now seen every film nominated for a BAFTA for best film and I can honestly say 12 Years a Slave is the out and out winner in my eyes. 12 Years a Slave deserves every award it is nominated for in every category. It is a hard film to sit through a lot of the time but that’s what makes it great.

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3 comments

  1. I thought that this film was a real disappointment. I didn’t like the way it was filmed (very hard to keep up with) and the concept wasn’t anything new. Yes we all know that slavery happened. It was inhumane and wrong- we know this too. The portrayal of the black woman was disappointing- passive but most of all silent. Why can’t they show any of the Harriet Tubmans of slavery? I think the cruelty was overly brutal, almost like it was punishing the audience. I don’t see why it has won so many awards but that’s only my opinion. This is a must see for those who are still ignorant on all things slavery.

    1. Yes we know about slavery, we know it was horrible but we know it from textbooks, from history classes. I can’t think of many (if any) films portraying slavery in an honest way and not being all “Yay! White people!” There has been no film in recent cinematic history tackling slavery truthfully. I think the cruelty was honest, yes, it made the audience feel uncomfortable and perhaps it was punishing them but that (in my opinion) is the point. It makes the audience think about what nations like America and Britain were built on and to consider what our ancestors did. Slavery isn’t talked about anywhere except the classroom and often it is the history classroom – I never read any slave narrative’s until University, when a true story like 12 Years a Slave should really be readily accessible for children aged 12 and up. I concur that it would have perhaps been better to have a stronger black woman but 12 Years a Slave is a true story and many black women (and men) would have had to struggle to survive and in order to do so be forced to deal with what was thrown at them. When Lupita Nyong’o’s Patsey had the chance to argue back she did but doing so led to her being brutally beaten – being passive may have been the lesser of two evils. Her performance was amazing and she and everyone involved with 12 Years a Slave deserve all the awards that they have been nominated for but that’s just my opinion.

  2. I think your opinion is valid and I do think slavery should be taught more extensively in schools. However, I do think that the film was brutal for the sake of it. I suppose I wanted to see something more like Django, reality mixed with fiction to show something more exciting. Black people (especially black woman) have spent thousands of years enslaved. Some of them still are if you look at opportunities in employment and education. I just think the film could have presented a different sort of reality. I liked your review though, very well written.

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