HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Last Moment of Clarity
Fukushima 50
Dreams on Fire
Sing as We Go!
Burnt Orange Heresy, The
Craft Legacy, The
Eye of the Storm
Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands
Where No Vultures Fly
Come True
Kagemusha
Justine
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché
Madchen in Uniform
Fire Will Come
Suspect
Jailbreak Pact
News of the World
Dementer
Beyond Clueless
Stylist, The
Sky is On Fire, The
Wrong Turn
In a Year with 13 Moons
Blush
Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The
Sinners, The
Tammy and the T-Rex
Archenemy
Zappa
Mindwarp
State Secret
Mogul Mowgli
Owners, The
Twentieth Century, The
Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The
What Lies Below
Greenland
Broil
Dead Pigs
   
 
Newest Articles
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
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
   
 
  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 4575 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
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
   

 

Last Updated: