It’s Oscar night March 2nd!
This year I happened to see quite a few of the movies up for nominations, but I thought I would give a review on the movie with 9 Oscar nominations.
12 Years A Slave
Directed by British video artist Steve McQueen, it was a must see for me since it was a true story, and historically significant to my ancestry. The movie is about the autobiography of Solomon Northup, published in 1853. Solomon is an accomplished violinist by trade, and a free man living in upstate New York. In the first few scenes McQueen uses silence, scenery, costumes, and a soft filtered look through the lens to capture the eloquent life of “freedom” that Solomon and his family live. Through a series of unfortunate events, Solomon is shipped to Louisiana and sold into slavery.
I had the movie “Roots” on my mind when I entered the theater, but the contrasting scenes into slavery (one of them rated R) quickly squashed the elegant mini series theory, and I found myself pondering whether I should stay, or walk out now!
I stayed with some regret, but not because the movie wasn’t directed well. In fact, slavery was depicted all too “real” in this movie, I was squirming in my seat. An overwhelming darkness clouded my soul until the very end. Solomon’s struggle to survive this new life was certainly different from that of a slave that knew no other life. Solomon to some extend has to conceal who he really is. He can’t reveal his literacy, but manages to reveal his level of education in one scene. He upstages the foreman played by Paul Dano, and is punished for his success. He is hanged, but his feet barely touch the ground. He can’t lift them, or he dies. This is the scene that had me squirming! McQueen focuses on this scene at length. The morning turns to evening as the slaves go about their daily routine, continually passing by Solomon as he struggles to keep the noose from tightening. I think what bothered me the most was not that Solomon was inches from dying, but that not even his fellow-man could help (although one woman snuck him a drink of water). This was a very powerful scene.
Chiwetel Ejiofor does an excellent job in the movie as Solomon, as well as Lupita Nyong’o who plays the role of Patsey.
The movie has hope eventually when Solomon befriends and begins to trust a carpenter played by Brad Pitt. The carpenter promises to write a letter to a colleague of Solomon. Solomon is eventually retrieved and brought back to his home and family.
Although the movie earned its many nominations, I found it disturbing in its truth, profoundly silent in Louisiana’s beautiful back country, and a heartwarming reunion in the end.
Did you see this movie? Let me know what you thought.
Enjoy the Oscars!