Sunday, November 3, 2013


Wanted to wait a few days after I saw this before I posted about it. I agree with all the critics and friends who are calling it a great movie and predicting and calling for Oscar nominations.  It is a powerful and extraordinary and painfully beautiful movie.

I only hope it is widely seen in the South and supplants to at least some extent the hundreds of Hollywood films, with GONE WITH THE WIND at the top, that have portrayed the Southern Confederate states secession and armed rebellion as somehow noble and worthy of admiration.

Maybe the individual bravery of certain soldiers is worthy of respect and honor in some way, but to cling to the institution of legal human bondage to the extent of taking up arms to defend it is not honorable or noble or in any way anything other than evil.

This movie, and the book it is based on, is testimony enough to that fact, though I know there are way too many who will not get that. I would love to see double bills of 12 YEARS A SLAVE with GONE WITH THE WIND in theaters all over this country, but especially in the South.

Unfortunately, it would probably lead to too much disruption and possibly even violence as the champions of each perspective defended theirs against the other, though only one, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, is actually based on real history (but as we know, facts have never gotten in the way of any ideology based on lies, misinformation and myths).

I thought while I was watching it that 12 YEARS A SLAVE could easily be nominated for an Oscar in every category the movie fits. The only small quibbles I have with it are some minor inconsistencies in the writing and acting. But the cinematography, art direction, wardrobe, make-up, soundtrack and editing are all Oscar quality, as is the acting of most of the performers, but especially Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o for best actor and actress (two of the greatest film performances of all time), and Paul Giamatti and Alfre Woodard for best supporting.

And Steve McQueen, the director (not the long deceased movie star that some members of the audience I saw the movie with confused him with) should and will be nominated for best director. As for the writing I had the few small quibbles with, I am now reading the book the film is based on to see if it's in the original or the screen adaptation, but either way, the writing too is mostly nothing less than excellent.

If you haven't see this yet, please do so while it is still in theaters so you can get the full impact of the story and the artistry of the filmmakers.


Robert Slater said...

In the land of Jesse James (Kansas City) this film is only playing in 4 theaters. Another must see (& read) is the documentary Slavery By Another Name. The book received a Pulitzer, and PBS ran the documentary by the same name. They are both terrific.

tpw said...

Dear M: I think it's a good & important movie, one that I hope helps to educate the American public about the reality of slavery in our past. I'm not sure I'm convinced of its greatness as a movie, but the lead performances were indeed powerful (I don't think, however, that Paul Giamatti's role was significant enough to merit an Oscar).

Miles said...

Here is the book online from what appears to be a legit source (even just the intro is worth reading):

The only thing that matches humanity's capacity for brutality is humanity's capacity for love and compassion, though it was nearly impossible for me to remember this while watching the film. Important and difficult film.