12 Years a Slave: A review

Yesterday I went to the cinema with my family to see 12 Years a Slave. I had an idea of what the film was about, but I hadn’t read any reviews or done any research into the film.

12 years2

What I got was an incredibly powerful, moving film that brought us all to tears. For those that don’t know the film is a true story, taken from the book of the same name, about a free man who is abducted and sold into slavery, where he is kept for twelve years before finally regaining his freedom.

Some of the scenes in the film were incredibly upsetting and difficult to watch. For me, it was fascinating because Soloman Nortup was lucky and managed to return to his family. A lot of slaves were not as fortunate. These films always make me want to learn more slavery in America. It makes me want to pull out all my history books and surround myself with this knowledge.

I think the most poignant thing about the film is that it was only one hundred and sixty years ago. When you think about it, it’s possible that the great grandchildren of people who were slaves in the 19th century could still be alive. For example, if someone was born in 1820 and lived until 1870, their children could have lived until the 1940’s if not later, meaning their children could still be alive and their grandchildren should definitely still be alive. It sounds bizarre, but I think you know what I mean, yeah?

The film shows us what it was like in 1840’s America. It shows how badly slaves were treated and how deep the inequality went. This can be seen when slave owners refer to slaves as their property. Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender are amazing in their roles and I definitely have new respect for them as actors. It cannot be easy to portray those characters and not take it home with you at night. They do a great job.

I didn’t realise that Brad Pitt produced the film. A lot of people have complained about Brad Pitt’s cameo in the film, but I liked it. I don’t think anyone else could have played Bass the way he did.

” Steve was the first to ask the big question, ‘Why has there not been more films on the American history of slavery?’. And it was the big question it took a Brit to ask.”

I like this quote from Brad Pitt. He’s making two points with it. The first one is that more films should be made, more should be done unearth the horrors that people went through. The second point is that it was the British who were asking these questions, when it should be the Americans. The British abolished slavery in 1807, over two hundred years ago. Whereas in America, even when slavery ended, inequality was still an issue.


One of my favourite quotes from the film was, “I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” It was sad near the start of the film when Solomon was abducted and put on a boat with other abductees.  The reason I like this quote is because it showed that Solomon didn’t want to just survive. You could tell he was going to fight and try and regain his freedom.

Chiwetel Ejiofor was outstanding in this film. His acting was superb. To be honest there isn’t words to explain how good an actor he is in this film. The way he connects with the audience and makes you feel his pain, it’s heart wrenching.

The character Patsey, played by Lupita Nyong’o, will bring you to tears. What that character goes through, the pain and heart break, the fear she must have felt, is incredible. The actress deserves so much recognition for her role and her ability to play that role so well.

12 Years a Slave is a film everybody should see. They should see it so that they can learn from the past and understand what it was like to be a slave. They should see it because the acting was immense and these actors deserve recognition. They should see it because, if they don’t, they’ll kick themselves for not watching it.


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