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83 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 150 years ago; slavery-
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...
Published 11 months ago by Samarees Sword

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not a patch on the excellent true account
Too bestial, not a patch on the excellent true account,the honest portrayal of Roots by Alex Hailey
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Cahill


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83 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 150 years ago; slavery-, 25 May 2014
This review is from: 12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013] (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'COURAGE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY' (TRUE STORY), 15 May 2014
By 
rbmusicman (U.K) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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A TRUE STORY ADAPTED FROM THE NOVEL WRITTEN BY 'SOLOMON NORTHUP'
In 1841 'Solomon' lives a free man with his wife and two Children, he is tricked and abducted,
then sold into slavery.
He is sold to plantation owner 'Edwin Epps' a man of few principles and a hard task-master.
He is stripped of both his identity and dignity, he is even given a slave-name, 'Platt'
'Solomon' is determined not to forget his past even though there seems to be no hope of
freedom.
As a free man he'd made his own decisions, and had a mind of his own, his ability's are
recognised by an associate of 'Epps' - 'Ford' who actually listens to the views of 'Platt'
and is rewarded with a 'fiddle' an instrument he was skilled in playing.
However the realities of his station soon rears it's ugly head over and over again.
There is little hope for the slaves on the plantation to realize anything but how things
are, however a chance meeting with 'Canadian' abolitionist 'Bass' finally gives 'Platt'
(Solomon) hope for the first time in 12 years.
The film is filled with some extraordinary performances.
Few holds barred in this depiction of the brutal regime slaves often endured in their
world of physical and verbal abuse a constant.
'Solomon' despite all that is thrown at him never gives up hope of returning to his now,
long lost family.
This is an intense and often graphically brutal story.....the horror being is that it's true.
Special Features -
* Meet the creative minds assembled by director 'Steve McQueen' to bring 'Solomon
Northup's' journey in life.
* The Score - Follow film composer 'Hans Zimmer' creating the dramatic Score.
Blu-ray Exclusive -
* A Historic Portrait -
Explore director 'Steve McQueen's' unique artistry in bringing this remarkable story to
life in this documentary including 'cast' and 'crew' interviews.
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91 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Come and see, 14 Jan. 2014
This review is from: 12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013] (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.

In terms of characterisation (do we call them characters if these monsters truly existed?), Ridley and McQueen's greatest decision is to give as much depth to the masters as their slaves. Epps is a vile creature, but we are dared to empathise with him as he impotently hands the whip to Northup, under the emasculating gaze of his jealous wife (Sarah Paulson). The object of Epps' violently ambivalent affections is Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o) an angel in a world where the beautiful and the talented are particularly prized for self-sanctified hatred.

So it seems I have found the words to describe a little of my experience of watching this remarkable film. It's a reminder that cinema is not solely a reserve of entertainment, and that the atrocities of humankind sometimes need to be shown to us - nakedly, harrowingly, unforgettably.
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67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary., 12 Jan. 2014
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not a patch on the excellent true account, 17 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013] (DVD)
Too bestial, not a patch on the excellent true account,the honest portrayal of Roots by Alex Hailey
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very dull and boring, 23 Feb. 2015
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I am not sure what exactly got this film 5-star reviews but I found it very dull and deeply disappointing. It was a waste of good acting talent. Both Ejiofor and Fassbender were excellent. Hence 2 stars rather than one. However the story is one dimensional and really boring. I nearly fell asleep after 1 hour and the film lasts over 2. Not at all recommended. We don't have to say the film is excellent just because we think slavery is an awful tragedy. Yes, slavery is a tragedy but this film is still dull and still boring. Human tragedy doesn't always make a good film and I am not going to say otherwise just to be politically correct.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to see why this film won best picture, 12 April 2015
By 
Teresa Walker - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: 12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013] (DVD)
Easy to see why this film won best picture. Both compelling and brutal to watch. Don't expect fast action, loud incidental music (thank goodness) and heroics in this one, but do expect first class acting, harrowing truths, atmosphere and lots of emotion, and have a box of tissues handy. I find it sad that some have given a poor review because they cannot face up to the shameful historic facts that slave owners could ever have stooped to such depravity and violence directed against another human being. Highly recommend this film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Powerful Stuff, 5 April 2015
By 
Richard Allen (Wellington, Somerset) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: 12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013] (DVD)
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ponderous telling of a remarkable story, 24 Nov. 2014
By 
Lendrick (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: 12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013] (DVD)
A film with a mighty reputation, that felt a bit disappointing. The story of Solomon Northup's abduction and exploitation as a slave for 12 years is indeed a remarkable one. However, McQueen opts to tell it in a languorous style with many long close ups of Chiwetel Ejiofor and lot of shots of beautiful southern scenery. There is ironically little sense though of the passage of time, or the sheer relentless drudgery that must have made up so much of the experience of being a slave.

I am old enough to remember Roots on TV in the 1970s and the is nothing really new here in the depiction of slavery, While with the focus on one man, no sense of the bigger picture.

It's impossible not to be moved by Solomon's story, Ejiofor does a fine job of portraying a man holding back to keep himself alive. It is beautify shot, with a fine score reminiscent of Góreckis Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. But foe me it is a bit to ponderous and predictable to be a really great film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story on many levels, 22 Sept. 2014
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A very dramatic and well told and very ghastly story illuminating a terrible period of British and then American history through the particular plight of a well educated man who is tricked, kidnapped and sold into slavery. It is richly told, with many themes to ponder upon as the main character is bullied by various psychopaths into moral choices between dreadful options, which become more upsetting when one learns at the end of the film that . . . well, I won't give it away.
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12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013]
12 Years a Slave [DVD] [2013] by Steve McQueen (DVD - 2014)
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