12 Years a Slave (2013) Review

Solomon Northup is a free black man from upstate New York, who is one day abducted and sold into slavery. Desperately wanting to return to his wife and children.

I still think this type of film is extremely difficult to watch, the subject matter really is tragic. Even more so when you think it wasn’t entirely long ago that slavery was going on. It truly is disturbing and awful to watch at times, it is a terrible thought that people can be so cruel and beat another human in the way the whites did to the blacks.

It must be an incredibly tough film to do for the actors, having to act so cruel and really create a divide when making the film. It must actually be very scary to become those type of characters especially if you look at Michael Fassbender’s role as Edwin Epps, he really is totally evil and his behaviour is very scary. Scary in the fact that people used to actually behave like that and treat other people as their property!

With Solomon he tries to begin with to prove his real identity and that Platt is not his real name. But meeting slaves and others along the way they convince him to do all he needs to, to survive and that includes not telling his real name. To act dumb and just listen when white people speak. In this case however as Solomon moves from different masters, they all seem to notice that he is special and not your average slave. His talent for playing the violin is often the release he gets to think about his actual life with his family.

He does not really let on that he is well-educated and can read and write, as that would make his battle to survive so much worse. Chiewetel Ejiofor has come a long way since I saw him in the TV movie Twelfth Night when studying at A Level back in 2003! A British actor who has worked his way to take on this mammoth task and puts in a remarkable performance in this film. Showing so many emotions throughout the film. You cannot help but feel sorry for him from that first moment when he wakes up having been abducted.

I did think however with probably the least screen time from the big names Brad Pitt really stole the show for me, I thought he was brilliant in that short space of time as Bass. In what is probably the best role really as he actually has a very good view showing that not all white people are actually the same. Benedict Cumberbatch was in the film very early on as Ford and again not really for too long, he seemed a little bit more sympathetic which is probably a strange comment considering he bought the slaves.

I have to admit though that I did not actually like the film and thought it really dragged, I found myself rather bored and quite frankly sick of so many views of the sky for a few seconds (director trademark maybe?) It just really started irritating me when we kept getting those random shots, along with the close-ups of random things going on with hands, like tightening the violin strings for example. I know that may seem quite a strange thing to comment on but when your watching something for that long, little things like that seem to be pointed out more.

It has been an extremely difficult film to write a review for as it really is not meant to be a nice film to watch. It really couldn’t be with the subject matter, the whipping scenes you will want them to end so much quicker than they do and you will not want to watch them at all. I wanted to turn away as it really is disturbing to watch.

4 thoughts on “12 Years a Slave (2013) Review

  1. Good review Caz. One of the only movies from this year that I may never, ever want to watch again. And if I do, it’s only by pure chance and not because I want to spend time with it. That’s a good thing, by the way.


    • Yeah I totally know what you mean by that, I have a few films I don’t intend to ever watch again for that reason. Haunting is probably the best word to use!


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