Rent 12 Years a Slave (2013)

3.9 of 5 from 1378 ratings
2h 8min
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Synopsis:
From acclaimed director Steve McQueen comes the incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom. It is 1841 and Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Stripped of his identity and deprived of all dignity, Northup is purchased by ruthless plantation owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbertder) and must find the strength within to survive. In his twelfth year in captivity, a chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) forever alters his life.
Actors:
, , , , Dickie Gravois, , , , , Cameron Zeigler, , , , , , Mister Mackey Jr., , , ,
Directors:
Producers:
Dede Gardner, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad
Writers:
John Ridley, Solomon Northup
Others:
John Ridley, Lupita Nyong'o, Adam Stockhausen, Sean Bobbitt, Alice Baker, Patricia Norris, Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker, Hans Zimmer, Joe Walker
Studio:
E1 Entertainment
Genres:
Drama
Awards:

2014 BAFTA Best Actor

2014 BAFTA Best Film

2014 Oscar Best Supporting Actress

2014 Oscar Best Picture

2014 Oscar Best Adapted Screen Play

BBFC:
Release Date:
12/05/2014
Run Time:
128 minutes
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.40:1
Colour:
Colour
Languages:
English
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
Bonus:
  • The Team: Meet the creative minds assembled by director Steve McQueen to bring Solomon Northup's journey to life
  • The Score: Follow film composer Hans Zimmer creating his dramatic score
BBFC:
Release Date:
12/05/2014
Run Time:
133 minutes
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.40:1
Colour:
Colour
Languages:
English
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
Bonus:
  • The Team: Meet the creative minds assembled by director Steve McQueen to bring Solomon Northup's journey to life
  • The Score: Follow film composer Hans Zimmer creating his dramatic score
  • A Historical Portrait: Explore director Steve McQueen's unique artistry in bringing this remarkable story to life in this documentary including cast and crew interviews

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Reviews (14) of 12 Years a Slave

A middling film that makes you want to read the book - 12 Years a Slave review by PV

This film was massively hyped, yes; many reviewers say how painful it was to sit through (as though they'd never heard of bad things happened to people before!). There is lots of racial politics going on here too, and a definite craving for victimhood in the reparation debate now. So I shall just stick to whether this is a good film or not.

Well, yes, it is a good film up to a point. Buy BOY does it labour the point! The doomy music and pained expressions may appeal to a US market, but I found it overdone.

It wants you to wince and cry - and not doubt some will - but I could just never emotionally connect with these characters, which surprised me. I remember watching Roots and really connecting then with Kunta Kinte. I shall have to rewatch that on DVD to see if it still does, or if maybe I have become too cynical - but I just didn't connect with the characters and I thought there was plenty of overacting too (esp in the female queen cotton picker character; the lead man character is excellent and he SHOULD have won the Oscar). I suspect I'd find the book more interesting.

I also didn't like the way the slaves all seemed so well-dressed and healthy. Silly.

Silly too that slavery is not really put in context; this is the 1840s and most whites were little more than slaves anyway, arguably - I think most who watch this movie will assume all whites were rich and privileged from this movie, Nonsense.

Plenty of good people supported slavery - black and white, Arab Muslim and Christian - all over the world. That point was missed by creating pantomime white villains and angelic blacks. No nuance here.

So 3.5 points, This is not a masterpiece at all, but a well-filmed biopic. One which maybe had to be made - but mainly aimed at a US market, which is why it wallows in its pity party polemic. Good, but not that good.

2 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

SLOW GOING - 12 Years a Slave review by KA

THIS WAS REALLY SLOW GOING IN SOME PLACES WHY HAVE THEY GOT AWARDS FOR IT I JUST DONT KNOW ROOTS WAS BETTER AND THAT WAS EONS AGO

2 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

Impressive to look at but lacks emotion - 12 Years a Slave review by PC

I feel bad about criticising a film that tries to tell an important story in a simple way without resorting to stereotypes. There are many aspects of the film that are truly impressive, the cinematography and the acting is first rate. I just wasn't gripped by the film, it truly meanders at time and fails to give depth to the characters despite the actors efforts. It really fails where something like Schindler's List succeeded, I expected to be uplifted by the end but just felt there was more to tell of his interesting life.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Critic review

12 Years a Slave review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso

An utterly unflinching and unashamed look at one of the biggest failures of men against their own kind, 12 Years a Slave is one of those films that leave a mark on your long after you leave the theatre; a masterpiece with more than just a movie-message, but rather a memory that reaches deep into social and personal consciousness.

Telling the true story of a black man born free in New York in the early 19th Century Steve McQueen’s newest film follows the shocking and tragic events of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a proud and hard working family man who, following an offer of a week’s worth of well paid work in Washington leaves his home to chase success few African Americans could hope for at the time.

The night after a drunken celebration however Northup awakens to find himself in an unfamiliar and dark place, what follows is one of the most nightmarish scenes I have yet witnessed, as he attempts to rise only to find heavy chains trailing from his limbs and catching the small amount of light in the room, causing them to glint like knives.

Using a fairly non-linear narrative pattern McQueen steps back and forth between the present – and the still rumbling repercussions of Northup’s enslavement – and the darker past; yet his controlled directorial hand and the exceptional performances keep audiences engaged from start to finish. With each minor kindness offered by Solomon’s slavers the audience is offered a consequence, a painful stab in the back often incurred years later, whilst McQueen and his editor Joe Walker deftly manipulate time and space to ensure each of these blows finds the most painful point at which to strike.

Moving further and further South through America Solomon, now facing the ultimate humiliation renamed Platt by his new masters, experiences the spectrum of plantation owners – from a God fearing man (perfectly played by Britain’s current “it actor” Benedict Cumberbatch) who attempts to aid his newest acquisition by providing him with a fiddle to entertain himself to a violent and hypocritical master who both beats and sleeps with his slaves at regular intervals.

Although I have given 12 Years a Slave the highest rating available to me in my capacity as a reviewer I would certainly not say that I enjoyed watching the film, the film is challenge to watch (not just because of the deplorable violence openly displayed on screen) and at more than two hours it isn’t easy to sit all the way through. Yet it’s raw emotional depiction of humanity, both the good and the utterly evil, and incredible performances from the well selected cast I was certainly glad, almost grateful in fact, that I was able to watch the whole thing.

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