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12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013]

1,218 customer reviews

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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
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: 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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,218 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00HR23CCM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 151 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

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.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Samarees Sword on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. D. Compton on 6 Jun. 2015
Format: DVD
It was with great trepidation that i watched this film the other evening due to the fact that i am a an avid reader of the 'American Civil War' and have always been a Southern sympathizer, while fully understanding the impact of the abhorrent system of slavery.

Well, this film by Steve McQueen is quite outstanding and at last Hollywood have chosen a film that is worthy of being the winner of the Oscar together with the other Oscars it won. The film based on a true story has been well documented by other Amazon reviewers so will not elaborate but concentrate on the other aspects of this superb piece of film making.

Firstly, the cinematography was superb and the the music by Hans Zimmer was completely appropriate for the story and for once there were scenes in the film where there was no music at all, which added to the telling of this horrific story. Secondly the acting was of the highest caliber
hence the Oscar for Ejiofor, while the directing and production was flawless. I will agree with one reviewer who stated that one does not get the feeling of 12 years in the film, but this is a minor quibble. Thirdly, this tragic story could have been portrayed in an undignified manner and harped on about the depredations of some of the Southern whites. However, it avoids this trap which only serves to to make one feel more revulsion at the slave owners, slavery itself and bring more poignancy to what is a harrowing story. It is quite brilliantly executed and i am so glad that i watched it as it is a film not to be missed.

Has the film altered my feelings regarding the South in the American Civil War. I must be honest and say it has not.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. L. Sievert on 27 July 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The slave owner was king, a tyrant. His kingdom was his plantation, his subjects his slaves. His authority was absolute, his power unchecked. Such a system was bound to be corrupting and abusive, and so it was. Justice and judgement were arbitrary and random, subject to the shifting moods and whims of the master. The slave was his property and had no human rights, and indeed under the law was no longer regarded as human. Instead, as beast of burden, he was to be owned, worked and exploited for private gain. The wealth and power of the South was built on this great immorality. But the evil went deeper still psychologically. The South sanctified this moral travesty, turned it into a noble cause, and went to war to try to protect it with flag and God and faith behind it. The bogus Southern political claim of states rights and self-determination was shorthand for slavery. If the slave system was lost, the economy of the South would collapse. Thus the American Civil War was fought over the issue of slavery, men fighting on one side to keep others in chains.

Solomon Northrup, whose true story this is, was one of those in chains. He was a free man who lived in the North, a prosperous, educated and loving family man. But one day in 1841 he makes a fatal mistake. He trusts a pair of white men who abuse his trust. They present themselves as businessmen to him, but in fact they are mercenaries working for private profit, kidnapping free blacks in the North and sending them to slavers in the South. Seduced by their charms, Solomon drinks with them. They get him drunk and the next morning he wakes up in chains. Thereafter he is shipped by paddle steamer to New Orleans with other stolen blacks. Thus begins his 12-year ordeal, his savage odyssey through hell.
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