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12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013]

Chiwetel Ejiofor , Michael K. Williams , Steve McQueen    Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (364 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013] + Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom [DVD] + The Railway Man [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Directors: Steve McQueen
  • Format: PAL, Subtitled, Dolby, Surround Sound
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Entertainment One
  • DVD Release Date: 12 May 2014
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (364 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00HR23CCM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 54 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Award-winning historical slave-narrative drama directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor. The film follows the experience of Solomon Northup (Ejiofor), an African-American living with a wife and two children in Saratoga, New York, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery by men claiming to offer him work as a circus musician. Transported by ship to New Orleans, it isn't long before he is given a new name and sold to William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), a relatively empathetic slave owner. But confrontations with the cruel and violent overseer John Tibeats (Paul Dano) lead to Solomon being passed on by Ford to the extremely abusive and alcoholic planter Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), who rules his slaves with a whip in one hand and a Bible in the other. Believing the only hope of regaining his freedom is to remain passive for the time being, Solomon ceases fighting against the illegitimacy of his situation until salvation is offered to him by a kindly labourer named Bass (Brad Pitt). The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o) and Best Adapted Screenplay, and won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama and BAFTAs for Best Leading Actor (Ejiofor) and Best Film.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 150 years ago; slavery- 25 May 2014
Format:DVD
What surprised me most about this film is that it is almost a quiet story; nearly intimate.
When Solomon sees his wife after 12 years, he doesn't spout hatred at his misfortune, he apologizes. The film doesn't shout protestations or insults at white en-slavers, it is an endearing and harrowing tale of a dignified man.
This doesn't mean there aren't moments that make one flinch and feel the immense emotion for millions of people who were victims of a vile and horrific business, but it is whispered through the glimpses of the sun-drenched porches- it is sung with the voices of the surrendered and the strings of Solomons' violin.

The film is mostly told from Solomon Northups' perspective, though Steve McQueen often uses his camera eye as omniscient narrator as well.
The cinematography is poetic, sublime and at times magnificently beautiful, even through the terror. There is a scene when our protagonist is nearly hung by neighboring slavers, in a few takes which seemed like an eternity; we marvel and are disgusted by its base, lack of humanity, all the while fellow slaves go about their daily lives in a beautiful summer setting in the Deep South,the crickets humming to the heat,ignoring the injured- nearly hung body of Solomon. This scene struck a raw chord, as it truly encapsulated a perfect depiction of what slavery was; the life of a slave was worthless to most.

McQueen used music motifs effectively, employing sour tones during its darkest moments, which added to the well-crafted artistry of this film.
The characterizations of all the players were superb; Ejiofor, believable and heartfelt in every scene.
My only complaint would be the passing of 12 years.The audience couldn't grasp the passing of all that time; to me,it is vitally important to make the toll and weight of all those years as part of the narrative, as it shaped Solomons' experience.
However this is an historical tale,wonderfully told and not to be missed.
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62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Come and see 14 Jan 2014
Format:DVD
I want to put into words how this film affected me, but, appropriately enough, there aren't the words there. Steve McQueen's adaptation of Solomon Northup's memoir is a film in which words are precious and very carefully chosen - whether shouted or sung or uttered in whispers out of earshot of the savage ruling class.

Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free man tricked into slavery. The story charts his ordeal - and those of countless others - under the tortuous watchfulness of a series of plantation owners, cruellest of whom is Edwin Epps (McQueen regular Michael Fassbender). It is a film whose relentless scenes of abuse are punctuated by levity of only the most desperate and solemn kind, and which is determinedly unbothered by the comforts of sentimentality.

Ejiofor captures the agony at the heart of Northup, from the initial indignity of his situation, through physical torture endured, observed and committed, to the brutal annihilation of his character through supremacist re-education. In place of the stock conclusions drawn by Hollywood, John Ridley's script has other ideas: rather than rousing speeches there are bursts of quickly-suppressed anger; instead of soaring emotion, upon release Northup remains bound in the shackles of guilt left upon him by the guilty.

As with his previous films (Hunger and Shame), McQueen embeds meaning in the frame. These aren't pretty images for the sake of it. The burning of a letter represents the dwindling of hope - and yet how long it seems to take to dwindle, and we linger until every sliver of fire is spent, staring ever harder for the remaining light in the darkness. Northup is staring also, unblinking, into the abyss of humanity around him, holding out for some such glimmer.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary. 12 Jan 2014
By self.
Format:Blu-ray
No movie that I have ever watched has depicted slavery so unflinchingly and earnestly. The fact that this film was based on a true story also adds something to its gravitas. I felt exhausted by the end of my viewing and there has been talk of people walking out of cinemas due to the raw intensity and the unflinching way in which the subject matter is tackled. But I say endure and you will be rewarded with the extraordinary true story of an American hero and a story that is long overdue in American cinema. There was debate about whether or not this was an important movie in the that country's cinema canon but for my money, considering that there seems to have been something preventing Hollywood and equally the country it belongs to addressing honestly the darkest chapter of their history, make no mistake, this is as important as movies get.

Brave, bold, committed filmmaking of the highest order.

Steve McQueen...I salute you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slavery 26 May 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A wonderful film showing the horror of slavery and one man's determination to not be beaten into submission. A gritty and sometimes horrifying film.
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73 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the land of the free 12 Jan 2014
By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Solomon Northup, the son of a former slave, was a free man living in upstate New York when he was tricked, kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. He spent twelve years working for a series of masters in the sugar and cotton plantations of the swampy Louisiana bayou country until regaining his freedom against the odds. This film is based on the account of his experiences, written in conjunction with a white lawyer called David Wilson, and authenticated, including in part by the drunken and sadistic Mr Epps, his final master.

With his artist's eye , McQueen brings out the beauty of the natural landscape, red sunrise over the river, hanging branches draped in Spanish moss, or the rhythmic power of the paddle-steamer, carving furrows through the sparkling water as it transports the captives to their harsh destiny. This film renounces any sentimentality, ramming home the fact that slaves were regarded as property so could be treated without any consideration or mercy. The only reason for keeping them alive was because an owner had paid good money for them, and they could earn more for him through their labour. We see how Mr Epps could terrorise a female slave with whom he had become sexually obsessed, whilst his wife tormented the poor woman at the same time out of jealousy.

Everyone will learn something different from this drama. In my case, it was the extent to which slaves were punished for being literate, since this was seen as giving access to knowledge and revolt. Ironically, slaves were then despised for the ignorance in which they were held. Also, when their stories were written with the help of a white people, it was claimed that hardships had been exaggerated by abolitionists to strengthen their case.

The violent beatings are hard to witness.
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