HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Man Standing Next, The
Rock, Paper and Scissors
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One
Salaam Bombay!
Boss Level
My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To
Edge of the World
PTU
Superdeep
Insignificance
Treasure City
Piccadilly
Parallel
Invasión
Shiva Baby
Flowers of Shanghai
War and Peace
Agony
Merrily We Go to Hell
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)
Amusement Park, The
Lemebel
Hands of Orlac, The
Cats
Death has Blue Eyes
Caveat
Kala Azar
Duplicate
Flashback
Gunda
After Love
Earwig and the Witch
Zebra Girl
Skull: The Mask
Vanquish
Bank Job
Drunk Bus
Homewrecker
State Funeral
Army of the Dead
   
 
Newest Articles
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
   
 
  12 Years a Slave Set Me Free
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, BiopicBuy from Amazon
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 4829 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: