Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

12 Years a Slave


12 Years a Slave is a movie that its hard not to compare to Schindler’s List. They both tackle two relatively recent human atrocities while also attempting to be a watchable and memorable film. And while the two movies are certainly different in story structure, I believe that 12 Years a Slave still succeeds in this goal.

The world of slavery is seen through the eyes of Solomon Northrup, a free man who is tricked into slavery and taken from his family. Through his eyes we see the injustices done to the black population and get a strong sense of the scope of this issue. What director McQueen does well is to not only show the physical torture they were put through, but he also focuses on how their dignity was destroyed as well, through scenes like the auction.

Why 12 Years a Slave works is because it doesn’t over-sentimentalize the drama that is being played out. It is more of a window into what was happening. And the fact that the technical aspects, the costumes and production design and cinematography, did such an amazing job of establishing both the time and the place only reinforced this notion. The excellent performances by almost the whole cast also added to this sense of realism. As a result the movie feels genuine, and not just a typical heart-string tugger.

Of course we all intrinsically know about the horrors of slavery, but just like with Schindler’s List, once you are watching it play out in front of you, there is a visceral response that really makes it real. This is part of the power of film, and 12 Years a Slave holds that power well.

6 Responses to “12 Years a Slave”

  1. It’s a hard-hitting, brutal movie that deserves to be seen, if only once. After that, then maybe never again. Good review Ian.

  2. Good review! I found this film brutal and good however as always said I’m too sure I will rush to see this again!

  3. Totally agree mate, it’s proper hard hitting stuff. Not a film I can say I enjoyed, but one I’m definitely glad I saw.

  4. Great review, this film is so brutally realistic and haunting.

  5. Nice, quick review! You’re right, watching it is much different than just knowing about it. I enjoyed this movie greatly, but I’m curious about the random late night dancing. It makes me wonder how many times they did that. I kind of liked those scenes in the movie, though, because it seemed so out of place with the rest of the film, which ultimately, brought a little humor, and a break in the intensity that ran high through the whole movie. I liked the variety.

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