Best of 2013 Movie Review: 12 Years A Slave

Telling the story of Solomon Northup, a free man living in peace away from the tortures of slavery, 12 Years A Slave mixes an excellent ensemble cast with the most powerful of performances to create something beautiful in the end. From director Steve McQueen, a director of small yet powerful works, 12 Years brings you back to a time of great terror and suffering, while keeping you incredibly invested in the amazing characters and visuals for the entire film.

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) lives a peaceful life in New York, with a loving wife and two children. Working as a violinist, Northup is happy and without worry, only until his life and his freedom are stripped from him. Tricked and kidnapped by ruthless men who offer him a job, Northup quickly ends up on the market of slavery, his name, his identity, and his life thrown into the shadows. Once sold and put on the plantation of William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) for work, Northup's troubles only escalate more as he faces merciless over-seers, countless hours of brutal work, and finally the wrath of slave owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). This tragic story of bravery, sacrifice, and survival breaths a new light onto the horrors of slavery, and how one man can change history forever.

This film is truly a masterpiece. Depicting the true horrors of slavery and the brutality of slave owners in the South, the film does a superb job at retelling Northup's heartfelt story like it has never been told before. From the minute it started to the last second of the film, I was invested in the life and tragedy of Solomon Northup, along with the many influential people he encountered in his struggles. Not bringing this tale to the big screen would be a crime, the tale being so powerful and heartfelt that the world must know about it and its legacy. With all its visually stunning shots of the South, and its phenomenal performances by a great cast, 12 Years A Slave is a beautifully sad story that has to be seen to be believed.

The cast of the film was amazing, bringing together a ragtag team of both well-known and unknown actors to bring life to these powerful characters. Leading the cast, and taking on a difficult role, we have Chiwetel Ejiofor, an actor of little roles but strong character. Ejiofor blew it out of the water, playing a determined man who seeks his freedom, and delivers one of the best performances I've seen in a while. Along with Ejiofor, the rest of the cast was also remarkable, including Micheal Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt, and the incredibly talented Lupita Nyong'o. The two roles that stood out most to me, because of their immense power, were probably those of Fassbender and Nyong'o. Fassbender playing a ruthless, cold-hearted slave owner, it was one of the most powerful roles I've ever seen from him, the hatred and cruelty of his character not holding back at all in his performance. Another great performance was that of Lupita Nyong'o, playing the sweet and loving Patsey. Nyong'o, who had her breakout role in this film, delivered one of the sweetest, most unforgettable performances ever, as her character faced the wrath of Fassbender's Edwin Epps and struggled to stay alive in the hardships of a woman of slavery. One of the most memorable, and most haunting scenes of the entire film was when Epps forces Solomon to whip Patsey, as she lies tied to a post. This scene was one of the most emotional scenes of the film, where Lupita's skill for acting shined through in the most haunting way. Another character I liked was Benedict Cumberbatch's William Ford, who first owns Solomon as a slave, but later gains a influential friendship with him, ultimately saving his life. His character was one of the more caring slave owners in Solomon's life, and Cumberbatch brought the right amount of compassion and wisdom to the role to make it great.

The music was brilliant and heartfelt, and I expected no less from Mr. Hans Zimmer. Being one of my favorite composers, Zimmer brings such beauty and life to all of the films he works on. With peaceful violin pieces playing over beautiful views of the South and striking sounds blaring at intense scenes of tragedy, Zimmer's music transcends the way music is heard, and creates a florescent image in the audience's minds. From fast-paced tones to slow peaceful music, Zimmer brings even more life to this memorable film.

Overall, this film is a must-see of 2013, and definitely one to own at home (unless you care not to break down and cry when watching a movie, not that I did). With intense characters and a very serious theme of slavery and tragedy, 12 Years A Slave is a powerhouse of storytelling and displays some of the best performances of the actors' careers. If you want to learn more about the history of one man's struggle through slavery, but you don't want a man killing plantation owners with Christoph Waltz, than this is the film for you (not Django Unchained).

I gave this film a 9 out of 10 for its powerful performances, intense storytelling, and amazing music, plus it's the Best Picture of last year, so why wouldn't you see it?           

Popular Posts