View Full Version : 12 Years A Slave (McQueen)

09-12-2013, 09:36 PM
Anybody seen this - cam recordings are kicking about now. Just about one of the most wrenching things I've ever seen. Mind boggling reminder of just how easy it is for entire societies to be totally morally fucked.

10-12-2013, 08:30 AM
i saw it at the london film festival. i think it has some issues and im still not 100% sure mcqueen is quite the guy to tell such a big story but its unbelievably powerful. its all about the sheer pain/disbelief on chiwetel ejiofor's face. i cried at the end. complete tragedy. though weirdly, i think fassbender stole the show from chiwetel, which i feel bad about saying, but hey, i think its true.

i have found it funny seeing the trailers for it in the cinema where they make it look like one of those triumph-of-the-human-spirit, heart-rending, oscar-baiting films. but then it really IS all those things, just not in the cliched, conventional way.

10-12-2013, 08:45 AM
The one thing that truly makes this film is that the point is made that there isn't even the possibility of triumph in the face of a set of social relations like that. No nobility on show anywhere. Yeah I was crying at the end too. I'd be amazed if it didn't win an Oscar.

10-12-2013, 09:45 AM
its a qualified triumph, of endurance, of someone totally crushed, with his faith in humanity gradually depleted. the fact he was free makes it even worse and more horrific, that realisation of being to grasp you are captive, then the possibility you might never be free. it makes his time as a slave even more unbearable as he discovers repeatedly that he has no choices.

18-01-2014, 11:29 PM
I thought this was absolutely amazing. What a film. Someone I'd just met was telling me how it wasn't as good as they'd thought it was going to be etc. etc. "bit disappointed" and I thought "wow, I'm going to have problems trusting any of your opinions or anything you say to me". I think it's a film that will have historic importance.

A couple of points:


- At the end, I got the sense that even though, in a sense it's a "happy ending" - he's home, holding the next generation of his family in his hands etc. - you can't ever really come home after that. The trauma is so intense that those scars won't fade. So the "happy ending"/Hollywood premise is completely undermined. It made me think of the way we report current affairs - y'know, a conflict is now "resolved", people are happy, businesses resume trading etc - and the whole long-lasting inter-generational effect of (say) what we've been complicit in in Iraq is skipped over.

- The way the ethos of slavery is gradually internalised. Intelligence is hidden and even the posture gradually becomes more and more bent over, subservient. Slavery is written into the body. Not just through the overt brutality but in these covert, subtle ways.

18-01-2014, 11:33 PM
One more comment - I wasn't as upset as expecting it to be heavier that Snowtown (which I watched a few weeks back). I had a weird sense of relief that it wasn't. Both films use a similar device, the implicit culminates in one extremely brutal 'reveal" but Snowtown upset me more - I actually had nightmares the night I saw it.

19-01-2014, 12:34 AM
At the end, I got the sense that...

thanks for the spoiler alert!! :)

19-01-2014, 09:13 AM
thanks for the spoiler alert!! :)

Sorry dude - I thought anyone reading this thread would assuming that they were gonna get spoilers, I'll edit.

19-01-2014, 10:28 AM
The way the ethos of slavery is gradually internalised. Intelligent is hidden and even the posture gradually becomes more and more bent over, subservient. Slavery is written into the body. Not just through the overt brutality but in these covert, subtle ways.



i thought the ending was well earned, so i didnt mind at all. it was not actually all that happy even as the idea that he had lost his life/family more or less was even more heartbreaking because he was able to be reunited and see what he had lost. both tangibly, but also internally.

19-01-2014, 12:01 PM
Another point - I ended up listening to a couple of favourite blues and gospel records last week. After watching the film, I thought, why do I not automatically *remember* that the transcendental qualities of this music are born out of suffering? Why do I forget this?

That's the strength of the film (and what my interlocutor above had wrong) - the viewer is made directly aware of historical processes, the legacy of which is very much still with us. You could draw a pretty straight line between McQueen's film and the Chiraq documentary mentioned elsewhere on the board.