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12 Years a Slave - Film Review

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by Juran Hakim (subscribe)
Lover of the written word. Contact me on Facebook - www.facebook.com/juran.hakeem
Published February 15th 2014
Courtesy of www.macrobert.org


Directed by Steve McQueen, starring the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt to name but a few. Critics are calling this 'the best film ever made', and for good reason, not only is the acting and level of talent superb, the usage of sound, dialogue, costume and cinematography is in a class of its own.

The opening scene immediately sets the tone; the slave master brandishing a machete, showing the slaves on the plantation how to cut down the crops, showing complete disregard to the fact that he is speaking to a group of men rather than a herd of beast.



McQueen certainly pulls no punches with the depiction of slavery and the tale of Solomon Northup. The realities are shown in their full ugliness, no makeup or gloss is spared to cover up what the African slave trade was like.

The latest filmic endeavour by McQueen was the psychological, sex imbibed, story of addiction and pleasure - Shame (2011). Starring Michael Fassbender as the main character, it is apparent that McQueen carries a fondness for the actor.



The conventional narrative of a Hollywood ending is abandoned in 12 Years a Slave, the ending scene shows words detailing the hardship and struggle Solomon Northup had to persevere in a bid to achieve justice, which was to no avail. The fact that Solomon was drugged, kidnapped, kept in bondage, beaten and treated like cattle, was of no consequence to those 'so called' men - is a monumental testament to the prejudices and injustices of that time.

This aspect of the films' conclusion is effective and reminds the audience that this isn't just mere entertainment, and that the narrative and characters of the film should be analysed and reflected upon.

In conclusion 12 Years a Slave earns its place within the plethora of Oscar nominated films and indeed the Oscar winners. The acting is thorough, the picture and directing is brilliant, moreover the message is clear. No man should be judged by the colour of his skin, but rather the content of his character.
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