Thursday, November 14, 2013

Screening Review | 12 Years A Slave

Someone just hand Steve McQueen an Oscar (or two) already.

Normally my posts are a bit witty and sarcastic (or at least I hope they are ... maybe I don't really achieve my goal ... ooops), but that doesn't seem appropriate for this film, so I will try to be more serious.

I was very excited when I had the opportunity to see a screening of 12 Years A Slave recently. Not only was it being directed by Steve McQueen whom I think is an amazing director, but it also featured many actors I think are excellent and was getting a great deal of buzz for awards season. Additionally, the subject matter is such that I was very interested to see it covered by such a strong director. I was happy to see such a serious subject matter handled by someone whom I think could handle it and portray it in such a way as to be honest while also creating an artistically beautiful film. The challenge, in my mind, with films that have to do with subjects such as this - slavery, the Holocost, etc - is that they must walk a fine line between telling and showing enough without it being too much.

And Steve McQueen and his amazing cast let by Chiwetel Ejiofor and also featuring Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Giamatti deliver in every way. The film is honest, beautiful, shocking, sad, emotional, gut-wrenching, powerful, inspirational, and a testament to the human spirit and will to survive. Even writing this, I am getting chocked up thinking about the film more and more. In typical McQueen style, the film is often-times quiet, soft and almost peaceful, in direct contrast with the ugliness and harshness of the actions taking place. There is one particular scene that I will not be able to get out of my mind for a very long time. The camera is stationary for what feels like a 10 minute scenes that probably lasts two. A beautiful big flowering tree takes up most of the scene and birds chirp in the background. Yet the action taking place below the tree is one of such brutality. That type of juxtaposition is what got me throughout.

I can't say more about the film because words don't really describe all that it does and means. This is a must see. But, go into it knowing that it will be difficult to watch at times. But you must keep watching, because we must understand and we must remember and ensure it never happens again.


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