12 Years A Slave – Review
12 Years A Slave is an incredible mind spinning, unsettling and fabulously raw story about perseverance, strength, fortitude, courage and determined moral conviction as told through the real life story of Solomon Northrup.
Solomon portrayed by British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is a young and prosperous man living free in Saratoga New York with his devoted loving wife and children as a somewhat Renaissance man of middle class success and standing. He is well read and an accomplished musician artist living the American dream as much a man of African heritage would ever be allow to live as such in the year 1841.
Early on Solomon is harmlessly introduced to two men looking to secure his services as a violinist. On that very same day he is taken to dinner by the men to be enticed even further by the potential financial windfall awaiting him for his unique services. It is at that dinner where he consumes too much alcohol that his life takes a dramatic turn as he awakens hours later chained in a dark and dirty cell. He is immediately brutally beaten and made aware that he no longer a free man but in fact a kidnapped man to be sold into southern slavery as an escaped runaway with a new name.
What transpires next is not simply Solomon’s generalize written re-witnessing of the brutal history and inhumane aspects of American slavery. Instead this is an unflinchingly and unnerving 2 plus hours of how slavery with all of its demeaning, demoralizing and instances of legalized murder, was an example of Solomon Northrup’s life and the many millions more lives like his who suffered through many years under the weight of immense evil with incredible human bravery.
Make no mistake about it, 12 Years A Slave is incredibly painful to watch; devastating to watch; brutally powerful to watch; and harrowing to watch. British Director Steve Mc Queen takes his camera lens and surgically transforms its use into more of a microscope for the audience to zoom in. We too become transformed whereby one is too emotionally moved to even blink for one single moment at both the nightmarish psychologically horrific aspects of slavery as well as it’s more noted examples of human savagery of humans inflicting unbridled pain and punishment towards other humans for no other reason than they are paid for property.
This movie is no whimsical Gone With The Wind or comedic revenge fantasy like Django Unchained and there is no
Hollywood cute make you feel good fairy tale ending here neither. No simply put this film is a remarkable unforgettable drama about unbreakable human courage and in doing so make you the audience by watching this re-accounting to live it as well in the manner as if someone had surgically removed a single nerve from the most sensitive part of your body and held it up to candled flame.
Believe the Oscar buzz, this movie is in the running for Oscar gold statues and it was never better illustrated by having the unusually rare 3 great scenes that for all practically purposes left me numb watching them. One is at approximately the 1 hour mark, the other at the 1 hour and half mark and the other at the 2 hour mark. In each instance the film begs you the audience to watch, don’t you dare turn away and in doing so asks you the viewer to contemplate “what would I have done?”
Produced by Brad Pitt and shot in Louisiana, this film is a lock for several nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Best Supporting Actor for Michael Fassbender as the crazed plantation owner Master Edwin Epps and possibly a Best Supporting Actress nomination for newcomer Lupita Nyong’o as Epps plantation slave mistress “Patsey”.
This is a must see film.
4 - Stars