Thursday 13 March 2014

12 Years a Slave

I didn't know a lot about 12 Years a Slave before I went along and saw it yesterday, in what turned out to be the final session at our local cinema. Sure, I'd heard about it, I knew it won 3 Oscars just recently (Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay). I don't follow the Oscars all that much but I was keen to see it. I'm so glad that I got there, it was astonishing. And I got a free popcorn. Bonus.

Based on Solomon Northup's memoir of the same name (available online many places including here, the film is often harrowing, and a discomforting experience that stays with you after you leave the darkness of the cinema. But it's an important story, and one well worth watching. It will be powerful still on a small screen at home, but is a film that does especially well with the big screen at the movies.

In 1841 Solomon Northup was a free man living in Saratoga, New York with his wife and children. He was duped to take a trip to Washington for work, and from there kidnapped into slavery and transported to New Orleans. I had no idea that people were kidnapped from the North and taken to the South as slaves. Solomon lived and worked on several plantations during his 12 years of slavery, generally in the poorest and most degrading of conditions. His treatment by even the benevolent slaveholders is appalling. It's an incredible story, an incredible life, and all the more incredible because it was true. We see the lives of other slaves too of course, people who were born into that life, and died within it.

This is a very strong movie. The performances are all very good, and I think Lupita Nyong'o well deserved her Oscar as Best Supporting Actress, and she looked particularly gorgeous in that lovely blue frock at the ceremony.

Not one for young kids
some scenes are particularly brutal
and confronting


Vicki said...

I really want to see this movie.

I tried getting the book at a local library, but there were 19 people who had it on hold in front of me. Luckily I found it at a library in another county and am #9.

Jeanie said...

I've yet to see this too, but have heard raves. A beautifully written review.

Susan said...

I don't see many movies but this one is one my must-see list.

Brona said...

I'm reading The Invention of Wings at the moment which is also centred on a true story from this period of history.
Maybe I will have to read Solomon's story as a follow up.

Anonymous said...

I agree ... A great movie. Not for the faint hearted though, like hubby who found it so distressing he nearly walked out!