Quick Daily Review #11: 12 Years a Slave (2013)


12 Years a Slave (2013)
Director: Steve McQueen

Slavery sucked. Like, really, really, really sucked. Especially American slavery in the south in the 18th and 19th centuries. ’12 Years A Slave’ recounts the true Story of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in the north who was kidnapped by bounty hunters and sold into slavery for the aforementioned twelve years, during which time he personally experienced severe emotional, physical, and spiritual degradation the likes of which is tough to fully comprehend for an outsider. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Northup in this tragic and strangely forgotten tale, and does a remarkable job of showing all of the complexity of emotions of a human being put into a situation such as this. This an almost voyeuristic movie in that I felt at no time that I was watching a movie, but that I had somehow been granted access to this actual story in this actual period of history. The movie was filmed in real life locations on historic properties. Ejiofor commented on the feeling of acting said locations; “That feeling of dancing with ghosts – it’s palpable.” Palpable is a good word for this movie, indeed. This is not Django Unchained, although after watching something as depressing as this you may very well want to go and queue that up for a little catharsis. This is raw history, stripped down and shown in a personal firsthand account of real human suffering. This is not a movie you enjoy, this is a movie you experience. This is the movie to show to anyone who wants a history lesson in what American slavery looked like. There is nothing edited out for the sake of “good taste” and on the flip side there is nothing over the top included to sensationalize a subject that needs no sensationalizing. As a history nerd with a big interest in this time period, I can’t recommend this movie enough for the honest portrait it provides.


Daily Inquiry: Do movies like this make you uncomfortable?

About William McPherson (359 Articles)
Professional freelance writer, who also writes blogs, reviews, and assorted nonsense at

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