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12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013]

1,252 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 (1,252 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00HR23CCM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 217 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

99 of 107 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 Rich TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 April 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm old enough to remember the fuss over Roots when it was first broadcast. I sense this film was a similarly important experience for a later generation of Americans. Perhaps slightly ill-advisedly, we chose this for a Saturday evening's relaxed entertainment. It's very powerful stuff, and pretty unrelenting. The acting and filmmaking is exceptional and the brutality and lack of humanity is compellingly portrayed. As a film it's pretty much faultless, and necessary viewing, but don't expect an easy time.
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94 of 108 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Lister on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K on 20 May 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
I think that this is a film that everyone should watch, including children. Some people have said that it is too long, too violent, too upsetting etc. I would agree but I think that all of those elements are completely necessary, and the fact that it is so painful to watch only gives us a glimpse into how human beings suffer at the hands of other human beings. I don't believe that this is about black or white, making "the white man feel guilty" but makes you aware of how one group of people can subjugate, control and dehumanise another for their own personal gain. It was not just the Americans who did this as another reviewer said, slavery has happened throughout history and is still happening today in some places but this is why this film is so important. It may not take very much for society to revert back to that so we all need to keep these stories alive and maintain the ability to empathise with all other human beings.

I found the hanging scene particularly harrowing and had to look away but thought that it was a genius scene. It was prolonged until well after one's comfort limit, making you ask when it will ever end and is probably one of the most violent things I have ever seen on film, but totally in context and not at all gratuitous.
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