12 Years a Slave, A Reviewable Collection of Thoughts

Thoughts which I revised as soon as before finishing the last sentence.

I wrote a whole bunch of many many words to describe what didn’t work for me in the film and in the end i realised that those are the things that make it great, and precious, and full of feeling.

So here’s what i wrote:

Cast performances are incredible but the McQueen/Fassbender bromance once too often obscures the rest of the actors, aside from Lupita N’yongo, maybe because it’s Fassbender she interacts with, maybe because we know this was her first time acting.

Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers, no questions, but the camera has a love of Fassbender that is too obvious for its own good. Or it could be that the film was never meant to be about Ejiofor’s character, maybe what we needed to see was who and what surrounded him.

With two previous-es like Hunger and Shame one can’t but compare and 12 Years a Slave tries but just doesn’t project the same emotional strength.

Could be because of the long time span the film has to cover. It’s jumpy, actions happen with little consecution like the biography was scattered on a table and random pages picked from it.

From the interviews with the cast one can only deduce that making the film was more true and painful than what was put on film.

Not to sound racist, but maybe the subject matter hits too close to home for too many involved in the film; I don’t imagine black people taking the matter lightly even after more than a century. Fact is that we know we’re supposed to watch a struggle and a change of immense proportions but in the end it feel like just a bit more than a happy-ending drama.

I’m not black and I’m not american, so my judgement might be a little impaired but i couldn’t tell whether McQueen wanted 12 Years a Slave to be a biopic and nothing more or a period piece about slavery on a larger scale. In trying to convey both I’m not sure there’s a success.

Speaking technically nothing even McQueen himself will ever do can surpass Shame’s cinematography, and again I’m not sure if I should be disappointed or not. The cinematography spoke volumes in Shame, it’s quiet here, it lets faces and words communicate but there is nothing like the 12 minute priest-talk of Hunger. Dialogue is as scattered as the scenes.

It’s good, it’s all good: comparison’s a bitch.

And speaking of bitches the Cumberman has such an insignificant role that his efforts to make the character thicker are vain and pointless.

I’ve tried not to spoil, but I can’t so here it is after the big image break.


The best part is the adieu between Solomon and Patsy, he leaves her behind a free man, not having granted her wish to be killed and freed from pain and misery. What I gather is that hardship changes us, but it does not make us better people.

e12 years a slave

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