HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Satanic Panic
Claudine
Harpoon
Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, The
Dark Phoenix
No Mercy
Arctic
Fate of Lee Khan, The
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Ladyworld
Rocketman
Kid Who Would Be King, The
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
America America
Darkest Minds, The
Along Came Jones
Hummingbird Project, The
Under the Table You Must Go
Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War
Hanging Tree, The
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare
Itsy Bitsy
Witchmaker, The
Prey, The
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
Happy Death Day 2U
Full Moon High
Strange But True
Kamikaze 1989
Never Grow Old
Time of Your Life, The
Mountain Men, The
Epic
Best Before Death
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Isabelle
Non-Stop New York
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
   
 
Newest Articles
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
   
 
  12 Years a Slave Set Me FreeBuy this film here.
Year: 2013
Director: Steve McQueen
Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Lupita Nyong'o, Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson, Michael K. Williams, Garrett Dillahunt, Alfre Woodard, Paul Giamatti, Kelsey Scott, Scoot McNairy, Ashley Dyke, Dwight Henry, Adepero Oduye
Genre: Historical, Biopic
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the decade of the eighteen-forties and Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) isn't called that anymore, those around him call him Platt. This is because he is now a slave on a plantation in Georgia, and there's not a day that goes by that he does not think of his life before his ordeal when he was a musician working in the Northern States with a wife and two children. He was happy then, content with his lot, but then the tragedy occurred as he was persuaded by two men who told him they ran a circus that he was just right for their show. One meal later and Northup was waking up in a cell in chains: he had been duped and sold into slavery, a situation where it matters not what you were before if you are black in the Southern states...

Director Steve McQueen became the first person in history to win both the Turner Prize for art (for a copy of an old Buster Keaton gag with the comedy removed) and the Oscar for Best Picture, for 12 Years a Slave, though the Best Director gong eluded him, going to the helmer of another British/American co-production, Gravity. Not to worry, it was a strong year for the Academy Awards and the Best Picture was the biggest prize of the night, indicating that McQueen had truly arrived in the moviemaking business, not that his previous two features had been ignored, yet now it was the establishment taking note of him, which can be a powerful justification and endorsement, as if all those famous faces popping up in extended cameos (producer Brad Pitt playing the sole reasonable white guy in the South, for instance) was not enough already.

Well, it was until the reveal that many of the Academy had not watched 12 Years a Slave and had voted for it because it sounded important, not because it was to their taste, which took the wind out of the production's sails to a degree. Also unfortunate was the public falling out between McQueen and his writer John Ridley; reports differed as to how much of the adaptation of Northup's nineteenth century memoir had been penned by either man, but it was clear Ridley didn't think he was getting enough credit and relations were frosty between them. Did this completely overshadow the actual film, however? Not entirely, as the achievement of getting a mainstream audience to watch what amounted to an art film about the touchy subject of slavery was not to be sneezed at.

However, an art film was what it was, meaning McQueen's blandly observant style, which encouraged the viewer to draw their own conclusions no matter how contentious the incidents being observed, turned off a lot of audiences, though to his credit it was not an approach which he stuck to for the entirety of the story, with his sympathy for an artist forbidden to express himself on pain of violence or even death deeply felt. Previous to this the work with the biggest impact on how America regarded the shameful past of slavery had been the seventies television miniseries Roots, which may have not been without controversy (original author Alex Hailey invented a lot of the supposedly true account of his ancestors, though the gist and intent were laudable) but did have the nation, even the world, discussing a subject that countless Westerns never had the courage to address.

However, there was always the potential for the lurid, and so it was with the rabble-rousing Italian shockumentary Goodbye Uncle Tom which told African Americans the only way to make up for the past injustices was bloody revolution, and Mandingo, which became a laughing stock for its attempts to bring home the horror of the situation and dismissed. Steven Spielberg's far more tasteful Amistad had nothing like the impact that Quentin Tarantino's almost comic strip Django Unchained had (like this drawing from cult seventies Western Skin Game), seeing slavery debated once again, and McQueen's efforts fell somewhere between, staying close to the poetry of his imagery when you might have wanted him to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. That was until the scene where the crazed plantation owner (Michael Fassbender) whips Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o), the slave he is sexually obsessed with and the full revulsion of what mankind has been reduced to finally dominates. Ejiofor remained his typically excellent self, but that disgust, that anger, should have been key earlier. Music by Hans Zimmer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3015 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: