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Film Review – 12 Years a Slave

Director:  Steve McQueen
Screenplay:  John Ridley
Cast::  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyongo’o and Michael Fassbender
Genre:  Drama
Ratings: ***

Rating Score
* – Poor
** – Average
*** – Good
**** – Very Good
***** – Excellent

12 Years a Slave has been named the best film of the year by several critics and has received nine Academy Award nominations and the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama. 12 Years a Slave is an adaptation of the 1853 memoirs of the same name by Solomon Northup, so this is based on a true story. It depicts Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as a free negro who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Solomon is sold to Edwin Epps (Michale Fassbender) who believes it is his right to abuse his slaves. Epps has a young female slave named Patsey (Lupita Nyongo’o), who is the most hard working slave on the plantation but is frequently abused by him and his wife (Sarah Paulson). Life on the plantation is unbearable for the slaves, up to a point where Patsey asks Solomon to put her out of her misery and kill her.

The acting in 12 Years a Slave is darn good. I would get scared every time I see Epps and try not to move in my seat. That’s how good Fassbenderis is in his role. He even makes the person watching the movie fear him and wanting to keep out of his way and not be noticed.  Nyongo’o also held her own as she portrayed Patsey magnificently. She must have channelled the spirit of the real Patsey or she is just that good. Even though this movie made me cry a lot and made me feel sad, my strongest emotions were anger and hate, for obvious reasons, that I will not elaborate on now. Plus I do not get it when people say (especially blacks), that slavery/apartheid movies should not be made anymore, and that we should move on. I do understand that we should concentrate on issues of today like child labour and modern day slavery, but this does not obliterate the legacy of slavery. Nobody today was alive when slavery was legal. My generation and the younger generations do not remember or did not experience apartheid, so making slavery/apartheid movies is one of the ways that we can see what happened during this periods and learn about our past. I do not hear people saying that ancient Greek movies should not be made anymore. People should now their history, period! Make sure when you watch 12 Years a Slave you have a whole box of tissues next to you (ladies only). It’s a tear jerker. I actually did not finish watching this movie the first time. I had to watch it again because it just made me too sad (If there is such a thing). I had to pause it and watch it the next day, and think only happy thoughts for the rest of the day. But that’s me – a softy at heart. But slowly you get over all the negative emotions and accept the past and look forward to the future. So go watch this movie, even though it might be heavy on the heart to watch. It is much, much better than the rubbish that is coming out these days.

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