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8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 799 Ratings

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  1. Negative: 77 out of 799

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  1. Dec 9, 2014
    9
    A beautiful look at American slavery, "12 Years a Slave" is undoubtedly the best movie of 2013 (along with Captain Philips and Gravity) thanks to its phenomenal cast and expertly written story.
  2. Nov 11, 2014
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Solomon Northup was a free-born man living in Saratoga, New York married with two children. In 1841 he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Viewers should not take Northup's story as something individual. Situations like this happened several times over the course of this horrific period, a clear type of holocaust of the African-American human people.

    If you have already watched Hunger (2008) and Shame (2011) you certainly know that Steve McQueen directs his films with merciless realism. His first two films were very dark and perplexing and so is 12 Years a Slave.

    The main theme of McQeen's film agenda is, I believe, about complex human-beings finding themselves in difficult situations. Bobby Sands, Brandon and finally Solomon Northup. Even though their names don't really matter, because they are just characters who represent the difficulties of our everyday lives.

    The film is a cruel examination of slavery in America and McQueen was probably the best director for this kind of material. His long takes and the objectivity of his camera make the movie seem realistic. The movie as an achievement represents perfection at cinematography, production, costumes and editing. Hans Zimmer score is hypnotic and controls the emotions of the audience. And of course a great screenplay by John Ridley who adapted Northup's memoir and created almost all the dialogue.

    Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a powerful and riveting performance as Solomon Northup. After a good stage career and some decent film performances, Ejiofor takes full advantage of his great talent previously shown in Dirty Pretty Things. This is one of the best performances of all time.

    Behind Ejiofor we see an extremely talented supporting cast full of charismatic and great actors. Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o give career best performances and stand out among Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano and others.

    What an incredible, haunting and touching film it is. Highly recommended for everyone who has the gut to watch the truth in a so tense way. Not only the best movie of the year but also one of the greatest and most important achievements in the history of movie-making.
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  3. Oct 13, 2014
    10
    Wonderful cinematography/photography, deeply visceral and a troubling story, as can be expected. I found the negative commentaries strangely sad and lacking decency. Most of the films detractors found it boring and/or especially vicious. It is a retelling of the Solomon Northrup's story. I'll probably not watch it again as I am not particularly a fan of violence and sadism. That beingWonderful cinematography/photography, deeply visceral and a troubling story, as can be expected. I found the negative commentaries strangely sad and lacking decency. Most of the films detractors found it boring and/or especially vicious. It is a retelling of the Solomon Northrup's story. I'll probably not watch it again as I am not particularly a fan of violence and sadism. That being said, it's brilliantly acted, directed and produced. It is definitely not a pleasure movie, but worthy of praise and observation/viewing. Expand
  4. Sep 20, 2014
    10
    A truly great movie is one that stays with you long after it is ended.

    A truly great movie is one that stays with you long after it is ended. The emotions and story unshakable; hours, days, weeks and 12 Years A Slave is such a film. From the moment the film opened on the first scene I was racked with anxiety. Not having read any reviews for 12 Years A Slave, I only knew it was
    A truly great movie is one that stays with you long after it is ended.

    A truly great movie is one that stays with you long after it is ended. The emotions and story unshakable; hours, days, weeks and 12 Years A Slave is such a film. From the moment the film opened on the first scene I was racked with anxiety. Not having read any reviews for 12 Years A Slave, I only knew it was fearlessly honest about the story of a free man from the North, kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana.

    Such clear purpose and vision could only produce a story of unwavering fortitude such as this. Steve McQueen, the director, is an artist and true visionary for his unflinching portrayal of Mr. Solomon Northup’s story and the unending brutalities and injustices encountered by those in slavery. The knot that persisted in my stomach from start to finish is a direct result of his firm ability to never look away. I felt compelled to honor those who had endured such unspeakable horrors that were once their life by watching and also not looking away, likely Mr. McQueen’s goal. From the moment Mr. Northup is sold, as Platt, you hopelessly seek out for some person to be a refuge as he fights to survive. The story is beautifully told, never allowing you to fully become immersed in the slave’s life, never truly forgetting the freedom that was once had – with the use of flashbacks and remarks reminiscent of a previous life. No scene is wasted, no filler, no false emotions spurred from music, just the hard truth of one man’s life. The saddest truth is Mr. Northup’s story is unremarkable in comparison to thousands of other men, women and children forced and born into slavery.

    Every actor deserves not just a nomination, but an award, to honor their brave and ultimately successful choice to take on such an insurmountable task of each role. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Adepero Oduye and the countless actors who I failed to list or those who played minor roles were impeccable and steadfast and a direct contributor to the movie’s achievement.

    If you are emotionally mature enough to endure such a dramatic, honest and truthful story then I implore you to set apart a day and watch 12 Years A Slave. A day is necessary to allow yourself to process such a magnificent film that is truly in a class of its own surpassing all other films released this year.

    I do understand if you do not, as the movie was incredibly difficult to watch.

    More reviews of recent releases can be found at our website.
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  5. Sep 6, 2014
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. It's a viewing only for those who have the stomach, but the emotional roller coaster ride you take along with Solomon Northup is almost perfect. The character development and other key aspects of the film, make it a must watch. The movie almost plays like a Schindler's list meets passion of the Christ. The one negative thing I can say about the film is the unnecessary brutality at some parts and also how it drawn out. Sooner or later I felt like I've been here and done this for two hours already. Though the movie closes off with a fantastic conclusion to a movie that will leave you hating yourself...especially if your white. Though my ancestress weren't in America during slavery and basically Irish people were slaves years before blacks; you still get that terrible sense you did something wrong. You can take this badly or good. I choose neither. It paints a picture of what we (as whites) did to blacks, which is basically the worst thing ever committed by Americans, and gives it to us. It's a very well down movie and does seem to be one of the best movies of 2013. Overall it has some big flaws but rights itself in the end with a extremely emotional finale. 9.1 Expand
  6. Sep 5, 2014
    10
    12 Years a Slave is brilliant and depressing at the same time.The performances in this movie are simply fabulous and definitely Oscar worthy.A true heart beating drama that leaves you speechless.
  7. Sep 2, 2014
    10
    Disturbing and violent--12 Years a Slave is far frome easy to view. Nevertheless, this film is something that each and every American owes themselves to see. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o shine bright in such a dark world.
  8. Aug 1, 2014
    9
    This was a fantastic film, well written and tremendous performances from all the stars. Far better film than I went in expecting.....................
  9. Jul 21, 2014
    10
    12 Years a Slave is without a doubt,the best film of 2013 - it is emotionally captivating, brilliantly acted, and has a wonderfully heart warming story of a man who faced unfathomable adversity.
  10. Jul 19, 2014
    9
    Una grandiosa película, realizada para hacerte llorar, con maravillosas interpretaciones por parte de sus protagonistas y que muestra una parte importante de la historia norteamericana.
  11. Jun 8, 2014
    9
    Very powerful and it definitely deserves all the praise and awards. A truly real, well crafted, extraordinary piece of cinema, though it may be a hard watch with the racial themes. I love how director Steve Mcqueen can capture a very lengthy shot and make it so powerful and grand in his movies. This movie is epic and well acted.
  12. Jun 5, 2014
    9
    This movie is a masterpiece! Not much more to say. I had to regain my manliness by punching my pillow in the end of the movie. The last time I had tears like that in my eyes was when watching a sad film, those were tears of joy and happiness. No film ever did this to me.
  13. May 16, 2014
    10
    IT ONE OF THOSE FILMS THAT WHOLE WORLD HAS TO SEE!!!!! MUST SEE FILM OF 2013!!!! The performance from the entire were POWERFUL!!!!

    The film that we will never forget!!!
  14. May 9, 2014
    9
    Steve Mcqueen's "Shame" didn't make much sense but "12 Years A Slave" is beautifully made, which tells a heart wrenching story during dark days of American history. Sean Bobbit's camera work is truly beautiful.
  15. May 5, 2014
    10
    Ok, so I was a little late to the party with this film, eh? Well, better late than never, right? Correct, and I'm so glad I finally got to see this phenomenal movie. This movie touched me so differently than other movies have this year. I'm not even a big fan of movies about history, so this movie is for everyone if you appreciate things like this. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, in thisOk, so I was a little late to the party with this film, eh? Well, better late than never, right? Correct, and I'm so glad I finally got to see this phenomenal movie. This movie touched me so differently than other movies have this year. I'm not even a big fan of movies about history, so this movie is for everyone if you appreciate things like this. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, in this film does an amazing, flawless performance. They perform each scene wonderfully and the writing/script compliments it all. The whole story is truly sad and touching. A free man gets kidnapped and is sold into the cruel subject of slavery. No movie has portrayed this time period in America as accurately and greatly as this. You know how some lame movies about slavery never really show how brutal the caucasians were to the blacks? This movie has brutal scenes that are NOT easy to watch. I'm not gonna lie. The first master Solomon is sold to is actually not a huge psychopath jerk that you'd think these kind of men would be. Man, the second one though? A HUGE maniacal jerk. Michael Fassbender really shows the audience how cruel this character was. Also, one of my other favorite, best characters is Lupita. Every single character, like I said, is perfect and they're equal in terms of quality. Where it was filmed is also a great setting. I'm telling you though, 12 Years a Slave is a movie that is so sympathetic that it really will touch you and break your heart at times. The ending is something that might even make you shed a tear for this amazing man. I did. Don't you already get the gist that this movie is amazing in every aspect? You should, and if you haven't seen this film yet, I highly advise with all my mind. Like I said, it isn't an easy watch. However, that doesn't mean it isn't WORTH watching, and it is in every, single way. Expand
  16. May 1, 2014
    9
    An amazing journey to a era of slavery, brutality, and a sad true story of a surviver, by the hand of stunning performances, and one of the most recognised director, Steve McQueen is at his very best, but still a bit slow at some sequences.
  17. Apr 21, 2014
    9
    A great, great film about a free man who is abducted and sold into slavery. It is a very sad tale and shows how racist we used to be and how bad slavery really was. A great cast with many great acting performances. Michael Fassbenders character was crazy and he did a fantastic job with his role. A great movie deserving of the best picture Oscar this year.
  18. Apr 18, 2014
    10
    Small scale in its 'sweep', due to adherence to the truth of the story and a refusal to reside in the world of the sensational, the film is no less affecting as a result. Perhaps the intimacy we feel and the respect the film shows us as an audience (rare these days), its play-like nature and quieter moments are indeed its strength. I was totally unsurprised to see it win Best Film (albeitSmall scale in its 'sweep', due to adherence to the truth of the story and a refusal to reside in the world of the sensational, the film is no less affecting as a result. Perhaps the intimacy we feel and the respect the film shows us as an audience (rare these days), its play-like nature and quieter moments are indeed its strength. I was totally unsurprised to see it win Best Film (albeit that I think American Hustle was terrific fun and magnificent film-making / acting).
    The scene towards the end... you'll know it if you have seen it.... where there was almost no sense of time nor words.. quite rightly, I have no words for. One of the great 'moments' in the history of film. The film a sa whole cannot sustain that kind of brilliance of course, but what film could? It is still a masterpiece.
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  19. Mar 25, 2014
    9
    The Autobiography of Solomon northup !!

    ** 12 Years Of Slave ** * This movie which dwells you in the depth of emotions which is caused by suffering and hardship rather than a warm happiness & enjoyment ! this film actually puts you in the place in which you being entertained by sadness and hardship in which you would never have expected or cannot deny being entertained !.This movie
    The Autobiography of Solomon northup !!

    ** 12 Years Of Slave **

    * This movie which dwells you in the depth of emotions which is caused by suffering and hardship rather than a warm happiness & enjoyment ! this film actually puts you in the place in which you being entertained by sadness and hardship in which you would never have expected or cannot deny being entertained !.This movie can literally capture your emotions it makes you feel for those characters in this movie like any other its has a specialty within itself that is unique from others ! .This is one of the greatest movie hands down it has beauty in its own which is both wonderful and outstanding !! .

    * This movie is an autobiography of Solomon northup who is being kidnapped and sold for slavery that eventually turns his life into misery & hardship ! This film was true to its source materials that gave this movie the huge clarity actually it also gave the feel to his suffering and also suffering for others who he associated with ! This movie has both beauty and truth .

    * The Actors Performance was outstanding they stood as the actual generators who generates our emotion when they perform during screen play ! Each and every actors performance stood as pillars for this entire movie ! Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup did and excellent performance so did other actors like Lupita Nyong'o as Patsey ,Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps ,Benedict Cumberbatch as William Ford and Brad Pitt as Samuel Bass they gave their respective characters heart and soul for this movie ! .

    * The Characters in this movie is heavily relied upon the performance of the actors as it being performed excellent and wonderful it gives the characters its beauty and brilliance !.

    * This movie is basically less in humor you cannot find any moment that so enjoyable because the story doesn't fit in with humor as it eventually displays emotion which are related with misery and hardship !.

    * This movie is entirely dramatic as its display an amount of clarity and sense of wonder with great screenplay and excellent acting performance that gives this movie its advantage and credit ! .

    * The director of this movie Steve McQueen did an outstanding dramatic movie with great direction & screenplay that make this movie as one of the best autobiographic movies of all the time ! .

    * Overall the movie is outstanding with all the performance it has successfully captured our emotions that gave this movie a sense of wonder , excitement and also sense of satisfaction which makes this entire movie wonderful .

    12 Years of Slave : *********

    (9/10)
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  20. Mar 24, 2014
    9
    ''Fearless!'' ''Unforgettable.'' ''Electrifying.'' ''One Of The Best Films Ever Made!'' This is the movie you should watch in focus. One of the most Important film you're ever going to see.
  21. Mar 21, 2014
    10
    After what feels like twelve hundred lashings, we are left transfixed at the horrors on the screen as a poor young lady has been innocently victimized by the sharp cane of a mean, powerful and perverted land owner. This is just one of the many harrowing scenes in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave – a fruitful and climatic dramatization of Solomon Northup’s novel of the same name.

    This is
    After what feels like twelve hundred lashings, we are left transfixed at the horrors on the screen as a poor young lady has been innocently victimized by the sharp cane of a mean, powerful and perverted land owner. This is just one of the many harrowing scenes in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave – a fruitful and climatic dramatization of Solomon Northup’s novel of the same name.

    This is a hard film to call, it is no doubt a grand dramatization in the life of a slave, but is it overtly so? Or does the film focus too much on this epic translation of Solomon’s life to the big screen that it forgets all the other impediments such a landmark should forge? When Brad Pitt enters the scene as a kind-hearted Canadian speaking out against slavery, it seems clearly convenient and perhaps too messianic. Yet, McQueen doesn’t send us half-hearted back to 1841 and rigorously achieves what a film must: let us experience the characters journey. So, despite occasional setback and concern surrounding my observations, this film is ultimately awe-inspiring and you’d have to be a fool not to feel its power and raw emotion.

    Chiwetel Ejiofor (playing Solomon) is the eyes and soul of this film. It is a grandiose performance of tears, adoration, forfeiture and being. Often, McQueen will leave his camera resting on Solomon’s shoulder or waiting just around the corner. We are summoned to live and breath with this character, feel his pain and stare straight into his forlorn soul. A primary example of McQueen escalating tension in this sense is when Solomon is hanged but left dangling with his toes barely touching the ground. There he waits for help, as most ignore him. It is excruciating, we watch Solomon balance himself, as for not would mean death. But, the camera is not always lingering, sometimes it is swirling in circles, to contradict McQueen’s earlier method of creating tension. In this case, it is tension via action, rather than emotion. In this scene, Solomon is forced to whip Patsy (Lupita Nyong’o) – a fellow lady slave – it is a pinical scene and one that hammers home the diseased social order of their sick master Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender).

    McQueen’s two previous films have also addressed intense subject matter – In Hunger we experience the hunger strike against the British occupation in Northern Island, and in Shame, a man crippled by sex addiction. The insane acts that human beings carry out on one another is the limelight of McQueen’s work and one shouldn’t be surprised if he picks out subject matter related to Hitler, Stalin or Xianzhong as his next piece of work!
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  22. Mar 20, 2014
    9
    The film's raw textures and brutal imagery fit McQueen's proverbial bill; the only thing more transcendent than the film's story are the acting performances that make it so much more hard-hitting. It's not for the faint of heart, and it wastes very little time getting into detail. If you are familiar with McQueen's other outings, you can imagine that a historical film about slavery won'tThe film's raw textures and brutal imagery fit McQueen's proverbial bill; the only thing more transcendent than the film's story are the acting performances that make it so much more hard-hitting. It's not for the faint of heart, and it wastes very little time getting into detail. If you are familiar with McQueen's other outings, you can imagine that a historical film about slavery won't be all peaches and cream, which some people (clearly) have a hard time digesting. And that's okay, but this is a responsible, balanced film that deserves anyone and everyone's due diligence to view it from the perspective of a historian and not a critic. The statement it makes is going to be there - no matter what - for a movie about slavery. Instead of getting hung up on this notion, immerse yourself in the film and give it every last bit of attention you can give; it's not worth wasting your time otherwise. Expand
  23. Mar 16, 2014
    9
    Lo más curioso de este proyecto es que, varios años antes de 12 Years a Slave, se le había premiado al director Steve McQueen como "Futuro Talento Cinematográfico". Nunca se equivocan. 12 Years a Slave es fiel a los relatos de Salomon Northup y con un reparto exquisito demuestra que hasta el día de hoy se marca y se hace recuerdo de una parte de la historia americana (y del resto del mundoLo más curioso de este proyecto es que, varios años antes de 12 Years a Slave, se le había premiado al director Steve McQueen como "Futuro Talento Cinematográfico". Nunca se equivocan. 12 Years a Slave es fiel a los relatos de Salomon Northup y con un reparto exquisito demuestra que hasta el día de hoy se marca y se hace recuerdo de una parte de la historia americana (y del resto del mundo en parte) que nos provoca mirar hacia atrás y sentirnos avergonzados de lo que alguna vez fuimos, pues la película hace mucho hincapié en la falta de humanidad de ese entonces cuando las personas de África eran esclavizadas y maltratadas hasta un punto que resulta imposible. Digna ganadora del Premio Óscar y digna de pagar una entrada para ir a verla. Expand
  24. Mar 14, 2014
    10
    Boring at start. He's just playing the fiddle and white people are dancing and prancing as they are made to. I thought that the movie will stay this way, but when he appears in chains, I told myself: "Oh, this again?". But that thought was killed when a white man suddenly beaten him bloodily until his paddle-thing shattered to pieces. And then I thought to myself, do I still want to watchBoring at start. He's just playing the fiddle and white people are dancing and prancing as they are made to. I thought that the movie will stay this way, but when he appears in chains, I told myself: "Oh, this again?". But that thought was killed when a white man suddenly beaten him bloodily until his paddle-thing shattered to pieces. And then I thought to myself, do I still want to watch this? I didn't. It broke my heart into thousands of red splinters. The acting was superb, though dialogue from Platt had room for improvement. Patsey's character was developed exceptionally, perfectly. The movie deserves all praise and hail, and this is a movie (though brutal and sexual), must be watched by your entire family. To let them see the sins of your ancestors. Expand
  25. Mar 14, 2014
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. It takes an emotional toll to watch Steve McQueen’s poignant 2013 BEST PICTURE winner of the Academy awards, adapted from the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man is sold into slavery for 12 years in the antebellum United States.

    As the third feature film from UK auteur Steve McQueen (after HUNGER 2008, 7/10 and SHAME 2011, 9/10), 12 YEARS A SLAVE is a metamorphic achievement for his director competence, comes to grips with the grave source material, and transposes the text into a visually stupefying and inwardly resounding piece of cinematic treasure, compels audience to vicariously undergo the trials and tribulations of Solomon (Ejiofor) and his fellow black slaves, and to corroborate us the price of freedom is hard-won merely 150 years ago, we might say we have far progressed above the stupidity and narrow-mindedness portrays among the white folks in the film, and slavery is rather an antiquated concept, however, whether this self-aware moral improvement has reached its end of line, or 150 years later, when we our progeny harks back, we will be plainly as anachronistic as those pathetic, barbarous and abominable predecessors.

    I digress too far, but I do intend to reiterate the value of this film, not because slavery is obsolete so we contemporaries have no urgency to watch it, in fact, we are in absolute obligation to reflect on those historic iniquity to alert ourselves not to recommit the same error, which we may agree, a large portion of people are treading the same water in the present climate.

    Now, back to the film, McQueen and his team, in particular the long-time DP Sean Bobbitt, are luxuriating in their meticulous composition of each shot, the long-shot of Solomon hung on a tree struggling to life with his toes tipped on the ground while no one care or dare to set him loose (in the background, several slave kids frolicking around) is strikingly daunting to behold, whether white or black, their mentality is ingrainedly impaired; intermittently, the breathtakingly picturesque topographic shots of the southern land (the bayou, the cotton field or the windy woods) seamlessly transition the chronicle into another twist or perturbation.

    The central dramatis personae is electrifying to the core, Ejiofor whole-heartedly radiates in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and every single take lingers on his bubble-eyed physiognomy is unimpeachably soul-stirring, his immaculate dedication oozes Solomon’s despair, angst and persistence. Fassbender, McQueen’s fixed leading man, lends himself to the meaty villain role, the outright racist plantation owner Edwin Epps,the dichotomy of his libido-driven infatuation with the young slave girl Patsey (Nyong’o) and the iron-clad truth she will never be completely his possession, is the centrepiece which culminates in an appalling whipping sequence where McQueen unbendingly fixates on Patsey’s heartbreaking wail and the horrid lacerations, Nyong’o is no doubt meritorious for her Oscar-win with her debut, her final scene when seeing off Solomon to his freedom with both yearning (for herself) and felicity (for him) has been encapsulated with pitch perfect verisimilitude.

    Further on, besides those three Oscar-nominated lucky ones, it is a handful of under-praised but equally memorable performances, Sarah Paulson (Mistress Epps), Alfre Woodard (Mistress Shaw) and Adepero Oduye (Eliza) all steal the limelight when their meagre screen-time is on, Paulson is brilliant with her glacial frigidity and sharp callousness, Woodard nails the most ambiguous role in the film with her composed utterance and Oduye brings about a burst of volcanic theatricality in her tête-à-tête with Ejiofor. By contrast, the other male side players are less prominent, Pitt is the ultimate messiah for Solomon, but reservedly underlit, and Paul Dano is on the verge of being typecast as someone either compulsively creepy or maddening annoying.

    John Ridley’s stern screenplay (the third Oscar win for the film) prunes the prolonged odyssey into a number of key chapters, carves out a clarified narrative arc while enlivening the jaded souls with terse lines full of understated connotations; Hans Zimmer’s score mingles with the movie’s awe-inspiring presentation of a history should never be forgotten, tallies with the credence of viewers’ spontaneity, unobtrusive, but superbly competent alongside this epic voyage, if you can stick to the very end, it is a film can sublimate your moral sentience, and Steve McQueen is a filmic wizard of sublime gravitas, at the age of 45, we can optimistically hope that his best has yet to come.
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  26. PMG
    Mar 9, 2014
    10
    This movie... OH MY GOD, this movie. Okay the only flaw is that the movie never really feels like it took 12 years and aside from that... there are no other flaws. Amazing Acting, an emotionel journey, glories cinematography, a believeble historical seting and one of the most brutal representations of the horror of slaverie. It is difficult to watch, but this is a movie that you must see.
  27. Mar 6, 2014
    9
    A shockingly heartbreaking recreation of a true event in the bleak history of nineteenth century American society, McQueen brings this period piece to life, or deprivation thereof, with talented cast performances on both sides of the divide. Soloman Northup, a free African American, is lured by two circus men who promise him work as a musician. However, his whole world is turned upsideA shockingly heartbreaking recreation of a true event in the bleak history of nineteenth century American society, McQueen brings this period piece to life, or deprivation thereof, with talented cast performances on both sides of the divide. Soloman Northup, a free African American, is lured by two circus men who promise him work as a musician. However, his whole world is turned upside down when he wakes up in shackles and on the wrong end of the black slave trade. Not a movie for the light-hearted, it features various scenes of black people being tortured, whipped, raped, and forced to stand still with no clothes on while they are inspected and sold off for a price to their new white masters (the proceeds of which they will never see a dime of). The depressing storyline aside, the film emanates with flowing nineteenth century frocks and settings, but it is Chiwetel Ejiofor as a brilliant solo piece that completes the film. We follow him throughout his 12 years as a slave, and his tight-lipped performance brews an emotional storm of helplessness but also hope in those who watch it. Not being able to speak out much, especially in the company of his various overseers, leaves a lot of work to his body language, and he makes it work. I didn't find Lupita Nyong'o as impressive as the Academy did, and Brad Pitt was inserted in seemingly because he just looks good and wanted to be in his own production. I guess we all would if we had the chance. It's an honest film, worth seeing even if just to experience what it means to be free one day and bound and helpless the next. Expand
  28. Mar 2, 2014
    10
    This was a truly heart breaking beautiful movie. It is definitely oscar worthy. The truth behind the story of this movie just makes me want to cry. Amazing!
  29. Feb 28, 2014
    9
    This review of “Twelve Years a Slave” is late in coming since I, like many others, was reluctant to see it because of its raw and powerful displays of brutality. After all, the film experience should be pleasurable and something to enjoy. Nevertheless, I took the opportunity to view the film on a DVD a friend generously loaned to us. As I watched the film my concerns were indeed realizedThis review of “Twelve Years a Slave” is late in coming since I, like many others, was reluctant to see it because of its raw and powerful displays of brutality. After all, the film experience should be pleasurable and something to enjoy. Nevertheless, I took the opportunity to view the film on a DVD a friend generously loaned to us. As I watched the film my concerns were indeed realized for some of the scenes were certainly uncomfortable to watch. However It was worth the 10 or 15 total minutes of discomfort to be able to be artistically exhilarated as we saw inhumanity and dignity oppose each other in what was the then mentality and norm of the slave genre and the society that embraced it. The acting of Chiwitel Ejifor, the writing of John Ridley and the direction of Steve McQueen make this a rewarding theatrical experience which the viewer will find difficult to forget or even equal. The film tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a cultured and well respected African American northerner, who is kidnapped and then sold into slavery by his abductors and ends up spending 12 years on one or more southern plantations. It’s easy for an audience member, black or white, to identify with the lead character and that is what makes the film work so well. Massive suffering among thousands is a broad and almost meaningless phrase when compared to describing the plight of one individual. It is something the viewer can more readily identify with and understand. I give this film a 9. To those who may still be reluctant to see it, think of it as historical medicine. It will enrich your minds and help us understand even more the oppression and bigotry that once infected our nation. Expand
  30. Feb 28, 2014
    10
    My wife and I ended up watching this movie pretty much on a whim after hearing a few things, and it turns out that that was a great move. The movie is quit good, so if you're on the fence for whatever reason it's an entertaining, sad, and eye-opening movie worth your time.
  31. Feb 28, 2014
    9
    It's always interesting to see a movie based on real events. Some of them are breathtaking, so it is but in a heart-wrecking way. It is not like someone who lost at sea for months or someone who trapped on an island for years. It is slavery, very cruel and harsh form of torture that takes one's freedom away.

    This true story occurred back in 1841, nearly 170 years ago. A New Yorker
    It's always interesting to see a movie based on real events. Some of them are breathtaking, so it is but in a heart-wrecking way. It is not like someone who lost at sea for months or someone who trapped on an island for years. It is slavery, very cruel and harsh form of torture that takes one's freedom away.

    This true story occurred back in 1841, nearly 170 years ago. A New Yorker Solomon Northup, a born-free black American was kidnapped and sold into slavery. So his journey into the dark world begins after he was assigned to work in various fields. It was incredible and unbelievable sad journey of those 12 years till he gets his freedom back.

    After the movie 'Shame' Steve McQueen retained his favourite actor Michale Fassbender to play in a prominent role for the third time for this historical epic drama. As usual, he became the ambassador to McQueen's movie along with great performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor. The movie was captured in beautiful places of Louisiana. The unknown supporting cast was also given great support with their small roles in the story.

    It was a good adaptation, but dialogues were very weak. There's no strong lines said anywhere in the movie or any memorable and rememberable. I believed the movie transformed exactly as the book says, I mean the original edition one. This movie is not appreciable for its contents because it was evilfull, but for bringing back the truth to the todays audience. It was acknowledgeable hard work for the cast and crew. So this movie will be recognised in big stages that mean the Oscar is not far away to fetch for McQueen and Chiwetel.
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  32. Feb 25, 2014
    10
    I cried...
    Several times.
    I think it is very appropriate to start my review by saying those words. In an age where showing our emotion in public is apparently a taboo. Needless to say, apart from a few heartless sods, I was not the only one who left the local theatre wiping tears from my cheeks. Putting it simply, 12 Years A Slave is superb. The way I see it, this should become the
    I cried...
    Several times.

    I think it is very appropriate to start my review by saying those words. In an age where showing our emotion in public is apparently a taboo. Needless to say, apart from a few heartless sods, I was not the only one who left the local theatre wiping tears from my cheeks.

    Putting it simply, 12 Years A Slave is superb. The way I see it, this should become the staple period-piece film. It is a film that shows us a dark, visceral story of a point in time that the American government would much rather sweep under the rug.

    It is a triumphant story of loss and despair, but also of remarkable perseverance and resolve.
    The simplicity of the plot leaves the weight of its success on the individual scenes and phenomenal writing. The great cast and setting meld together perfectly.

    In a year of phenomenal films, 12 Years A Slave comes out on par with many others, if not slightly above.
    I hope that in a few years, this might be the film that is shown in history classes. It is not something that should be watched for the sake of the film, it is something that has to be watched because of the horrific times which its characters live in.

    A 10 out of 10.

    Jack Valentine
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  33. Feb 23, 2014
    10
    12 years a slave is not a regular movie ... it's a slavery experience that force your mind to think about similarities between you and "Blat", and by the end asking yourself, Am I really free or just a slave with different master and instructions?...
  34. Feb 23, 2014
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. 12 years a slave is not a movie for the weak hearted. The Movie is an unbelievably true account of the horrors of slavery and it will make you uncomfortable to say the least. Everyone in the cast delivers wonderful performances that further add to the power of the beautiful and vivid imagery that transport you through the journey of Solomon Northup. A freeman who is wrongfully sold into slavery and spends 12 years in the slave trade. Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers a wonderfull yet subtle performance as Northup that further enriches the visual beauty of the movie and helps stay away from the stereotypes of other slave movies that have been over dramatized. Expand
  35. Feb 21, 2014
    9
    Exceptional acting and great direction. While many are not familiar with Solomon Northup's epic life story, including myself, the film delivers a great execution as if you were the one experiencing all these events that happened in Solomon's life. Steve McQueen really knows how to capture the essence of the theme. Moreover, the acting was EXCEPTIONAL. Big applause for Chiwetel Ejiofor,Exceptional acting and great direction. While many are not familiar with Solomon Northup's epic life story, including myself, the film delivers a great execution as if you were the one experiencing all these events that happened in Solomon's life. Steve McQueen really knows how to capture the essence of the theme. Moreover, the acting was EXCEPTIONAL. Big applause for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, and newcomer Lupita Nyong'o. I'm surprised that Sarah Paulson didn't get the praised that she should've gotten. However, the movie itself is already a box office success, it doesn't need a lot of awards to attract audiences. Expand
  36. Feb 20, 2014
    9
    Had to write a riposte to the handful of reviewers leaving very low scores for this movie. One man's food and all that aside, the performances, script and cinematography couldn't possibly warrant such critical reviews. One reviewer (Englishrose), sees the movie as presenting a challenge to criticise it or (sic - and) be condemned a racist, and lambasts McQueen for gratuitous violence.Had to write a riposte to the handful of reviewers leaving very low scores for this movie. One man's food and all that aside, the performances, script and cinematography couldn't possibly warrant such critical reviews. One reviewer (Englishrose), sees the movie as presenting a challenge to criticise it or (sic - and) be condemned a racist, and lambasts McQueen for gratuitous violence. This misses the point. The violence is indeed brutal, and the threat of it, at least, relentless, but not without reason. It is necessary in portraying the barbaric nature of the antebellum slavery in its attempts to dehumanise a people.

    The reviewer complains that the film plunges too quickly into the risky details, but we learn enough about Solomon to establish the character pre his ordeal. Condensing twelve years of slavery into a couple of hours requires keen editing. Besides, the reviewer's sense of time is a bit dubious in remembering a beating scene as twenty minutes long, which was in fact only several minutes.

    The director is censured by these reviewers for its oversimplified depiction of of white men as evil and black as good, but the reality is far more complex. The story is not so much a collective disparaging of white people as a sobering tale of the cruelty all people are capable of when the law approbates their behaviour.

    There are questions as to why Solomon doesn't attempt an earlier escape, but these simply aren't grounded in reality. When the likelyhood of successful emancipation is so small and the punishments for failed attempts so horrific, it does not take a great leap of imagination to see why so few slaves/captives make a genuine bid for freedom.

    The film will no doubt leave viewers with different feelings, but sanctimoniousness is unlikely to be one of them.
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  37. Feb 19, 2014
    10
    The film 12 Years a Slave is a modern day masterpiece. Reasons include:
    - superbly acted
    - exquisitely written
    - beautifully shot
    - masterfully directed
    This movie is the total package. I highly recommend seeing it.
  38. Feb 17, 2014
    10
    Steve Mcqueen has paid a tribute to all the people in chains whose stories were lost in the dust of history. The horror of slavery has been shown in its full. Brilliant acting by all the cast.
  39. Feb 11, 2014
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. 12 Years a Slave is a powerful film that is brilliantly unflinching and impeccably made and may possibly be the most raw, real and accurate slavery films to come out in recent years (or maybe even ever). With fantastic acting from its amazing cast, brilliant and realistic set-design and an awe-inspiring original score by Hans Zimmer; this film is much more than the average Oscar-bait flick. The film, unfortunately, has its flaws; the fact that years were going by wasn't really illustrated properly, actors looked exactly the same as years went by and that felt very unrealistic to me and I also would have liked a more emotional reunion between Solomon and his family. In the end, 12 Years a Slave is a film that definitely needs to be seen, it is not perfect, but it is worth the watch. Expand
  40. Feb 9, 2014
    10
    This film makes The Shawshank Redemption look like King Arthur.

    Never have I been stunned into an emotional silence after watching a film in the theater. Literally. Never. I've come out of films before thinking "My god, that was unbelievable", like when I saw the Lord of the Rings for the first time, but this film just hits you on another level entirely. You sit there after its over,
    This film makes The Shawshank Redemption look like King Arthur.

    Never have I been stunned into an emotional silence after watching a film in the theater. Literally. Never. I've come out of films before thinking "My god, that was unbelievable", like when I saw the Lord of the Rings for the first time, but this film just hits you on another level entirely. You sit there after its over, wondering if what you'd just experienced was real. The day after, you feel the same. It's like seeing your favourite band live - you have trouble believing it at the time, and you still have trouble believing you ever saw them a week after.

    One of the most vivid depictions of slavery ever put to film with phenomenal performances from Ejiofor and Nyong'o, but the real stand out performance here is Michael Fassbender. Combined with excellent cinematography from Sean Bobbitt, a very tight script by John Ridley, excellent direction by Steve McQueen, beautiful editing by Joe Walker and a great score by Hans Zimmer that greatly marries modern orchestral work with contemporary music, serving to underscore the emotions of the film rather than intrude into the film's actual story.

    While it may not be a film that you can watch repeatedly - I think everyone needs to see this film at least once. A very, very important film.
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  41. Feb 4, 2014
    9
    Es casi una obra maestra, mi unica critica negativa es en los momentos largos de secuencia que muestra
    el sufrimiento y algunas escenas que pueden volverse muy tediosas.
  42. Feb 4, 2014
    10
    '12 Years a Slave' amazes with its attention to detail and authenticity regarding the lives led by slaves. It was well researched and refrained from creating drama to add spice.

    From the very first scene, McQueen wastes no time in plunging us into the daily, ordinary lives of black slaves of the nineteenth century Deep South. Interlaced with the present story that we're being shown
    '12 Years a Slave' amazes with its attention to detail and authenticity regarding the lives led by slaves. It was well researched and refrained from creating drama to add spice.

    From the very first scene, McQueen wastes no time in plunging us into the daily, ordinary lives of black slaves of the nineteenth century Deep South. Interlaced with the present story that we're being shown where the protagonist, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), is already a slave, a series of flashbacks flesh out his previous life as a free man in the North. He has a wife and kids, and leads a normal life just like the white people who surround him. He is introduced to people who promise him good income as a violinist in the capital. He agrees and leaves his family behind in New York for an intended period of two weeks. He is lulled into a false sense of security and drinks more than he should have. When he wakes up he finds himself in chains confronted by men who insist on calling him a slave.

    I got the impression that those of the African extraction who were born free are inherently different from those who were born into slavery. They think and speak freely and have a different view to life. Those who were born into slavery seem to have embraced their fate. There was an interesting scene where a slave walks into a shop and stares in amazement at Northup when he was a free man in New York.

    Paul Giamatti plays a slave-trader who has them stand naked as potential customers roam about and inspect them before making a purchase. He divides children from their mothers without a second thought. It is here that Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) buys Northup. McQueen doesn't take it easy on the children we have seen just because we might have developed sympathy for them, for to do so would be a gross betrayal to the ones whose stories no one narrated and their anguish never revealed, and to keep them safe would suggest that this was the norm where in reality it might have been an exception.

    John Tibeats (Paul Dano) comes across as someone who never might have thought about the ethics of slavery once in his life. He is instantly recognizable. There are a lot of people like him who go about their lives without letting their thoughts stray into areas that demand serious discussions like philosophy, the arts, poverty, war etc. They came into this world to lead their lives like sheep, eating well, wearing and spending extravagantly, and having a general good time. If they were picked up and dropped into a time when slavery was legal, they would not once flinch or utter a word against it as long as they belonged to the group that was doing the slaving. Tibeats resents the fact that Ford has grown fond of Northup, and the latter's quick wit and high words offend him.

    Northup's next owner, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), puts him to picking cotton in the fields with his other slaves. He derives his own interpretations from the Bible sanctioning slavery, and lashes them accordingly. Sometimes he has them brought into the house in the middle of the night and dance around. Epps's wife is jealous of a slave girl and abuses her constantly. She can't seem to grasp the fact that if her husband paid special attention to a slave, it was his fault and not the latter's. She constantly threatens the slaves and taunts her husband to be more tough on them to keep them in line. When she offers them respite, she expects gratitude. Husband and wife bring the worst out of each other. But Epps is the epitome of psychopathy. He bullies with his every word. It is a constant struggle for Northup not to incite anger and have his master lunge at him with murderous intention.

    Deaths among the slaves happen without any alarm being raised. Some of the black people have had it easy on them courtesy of their owners. They even had servants and slaves serving them in a few cases. Northup becomes a part of the community, but he still tries to reach his family and friends somehow to inform them about his situation. He trusts in someone who betrays him, and barely escapes death. Northup is finally able to reunite with his family, but not before we witness possibly some of the worst scenes of barbarity displayed anywhere on film.

    At moments the score is so quiet it's almost imperceptible, but complements the scenes perfectly. The production design and costume design paints a vivid picture of the time. There's a simplicity and mundaneness to everything from the way the slaves toil everyday to their time spent privately. The film was edited with ingenuity. Both narratives develop side by side and complement each other. Instead of a beginning where we might have wondered when Northup was going to be banged up, we see him as a slave from the very first shot. And the flashbacks only come when they are relevant to the present story. Northup's character development was palpable and poignant.

    McQueen has promoted himself to the A-list with this masterpiece of the highest order.
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  43. Jan 27, 2014
    10
    I was extremely tired and sleepy when I decided to watch de movie. When I finished, the last thing on my mind was my bed. The amazing job of Steve McQueen on making the film the most shocking as possible attached me to the screen from the beginning to the end of the story.
  44. Jan 25, 2014
    9
    Very powerful movie. It was extremely well done but very hard to watch. Ejiofor's preformance was incrediable and Fassbender's performance as a cruel slave owner makes you cringe. The ending was heart breaking and happy at the same time. I recommend this movie for anybody who will be able to watch them. It's hard but it's worth it.
  45. Jan 25, 2014
    10
    12 years a slave was a brilliant film. The film was so well done the acting was great the directing was great, the story was interesting and in intense scenes the tension was held brilliantly. It is Overall a great film 10/10
  46. Jan 22, 2014
    10
    Probably the most powerful film I've ever seen. The directing is absolutely spot on and the acting is world class. I can't really say too much about this film because I don't want to ruin it, but anyone who wants to watch it I highly recommend it. I can tell this is a film which we'll all still be talking about in 10-20 years time.
  47. Jan 21, 2014
    10
    There is very little I can say about this film that hasn't already been said: The acting is easily the best of this year, maybe even of the last decade, the story is effectively gut & heart-wrenching, and Steven McQueen brings just the right amount of visual panache and gritty realism to do the story justice. I cried. I cried every time I saw it.

    It's about time American cinema stopped
    There is very little I can say about this film that hasn't already been said: The acting is easily the best of this year, maybe even of the last decade, the story is effectively gut & heart-wrenching, and Steven McQueen brings just the right amount of visual panache and gritty realism to do the story justice. I cried. I cried every time I saw it.

    It's about time American cinema stopped being afraid of our history with Slavery. And while that description isn't perfect (Steve McQueen is british, after all), it definitely signals a HUGE step in the right direction. There are demons everywhere, and this film is unafraid to throw its main character into the heart of darkness Northup actually experienced.

    It may be hard to stomach at times, but every American (at least) should see this movie. It is a masterpiece.
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  48. Jan 19, 2014
    10
    An amazing hard hitting truth about the terrible time Solomon Northup suffered. with an amazing script and actors if there's any justice this film will clean up at the Oscars
  49. Jan 17, 2014
    10
    This is easily one of the greatest films I've ever seen, and in my eyes competes for my personal number 1, which is The Shawshank Redemption. 12 Years A Slave follows the incredible story of Solomon Northup as he is torn away from his free life and family, and forced into slavery. The entire film is a cinematic masterpiece, and will leave you in silence upon finishing it, simply due to theThis is easily one of the greatest films I've ever seen, and in my eyes competes for my personal number 1, which is The Shawshank Redemption. 12 Years A Slave follows the incredible story of Solomon Northup as he is torn away from his free life and family, and forced into slavery. The entire film is a cinematic masterpiece, and will leave you in silence upon finishing it, simply due to the realism and shock of it all. Steve McQueen has taken this true story and provided it with complete justice in a movie form, and he had no intentions of making light scenes. Each and every scene of this movie is full of emotion and the actors/actresses portray their feelings outstandingly well, I'd be very surprised if Chiwetel Ejiofor didn't win an award for playing the role of Solomon Northup. Unlike typical movies which are full of soundtracks and constantly changing scenes flashing before your eyes, this movie sets a very silent and extended form of scenery. There are moments in the film where all you are seeing is Solomon's face with nothing but silence, and it causes you to really read and understand the emotion in his face. The brutal scenes in which the slave's 'masters' are punishing them are also extremely powerful, and you as the audience are forced to witness prolonged scenes of horrific torture, the reality of it really does hit you hard. What I like about this film is the way it focuses so closely upon a handful of characters. The scope of the scenes never goes beyond Solomon, or the cotton farm in which the majority of the film is set in. By following the characters so closely, and portraying their emotions throughout, you develop an extremely sympathetic bond with the Solomon and his co-slaves, which very few movies I've seen can do. If you are reading this and haven't seen 12 Years a Slave, you must see it. The film does take a bit of stomach to watch, and you should also be prepared for the shock and reality of it, but in my eyes it is a must see. Personally, I think this is the sort of film which will go down in history as one of the greatest of all time, and the ending (which I wont spoil) is particularly moving.

    10/10 for me, and I'm very picky about movies.
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  50. Jan 16, 2014
    10
    This movie is the best of 2013, (while Gravity is my favorite), this movie deserves Best Picture Oscar, the acting is great, Chiwetel Ejiofor was great, and Michael Fassbender is great, now some people complain that the movie is brutal, and that's how it's meant to be, because that's how slavery was in real life, and this movie perfectly captures that emotion, that's why it is aThis movie is the best of 2013, (while Gravity is my favorite), this movie deserves Best Picture Oscar, the acting is great, Chiwetel Ejiofor was great, and Michael Fassbender is great, now some people complain that the movie is brutal, and that's how it's meant to be, because that's how slavery was in real life, and this movie perfectly captures that emotion, that's why it is a masterpiece, and why it deserves the Oscar. Expand
  51. Jan 16, 2014
    10
    Blown away by this film. ABSOLUTELY BLOWN AWAY! I was expecting a slow and sappy story, but it's intense. The acting, especially a particular scene towards the end, is phenomenal. Micheal Fassbender deserves Best Supporting Actor over Jared Leto (and yes, I have seen Dallas Buyers Club). In 10 years, this movie will end up on AFI's top 100 movies and will probably be at least top 50. It'sBlown away by this film. ABSOLUTELY BLOWN AWAY! I was expecting a slow and sappy story, but it's intense. The acting, especially a particular scene towards the end, is phenomenal. Micheal Fassbender deserves Best Supporting Actor over Jared Leto (and yes, I have seen Dallas Buyers Club). In 10 years, this movie will end up on AFI's top 100 movies and will probably be at least top 50. It's that good. I warning you though, there are some tough scenes to watch. You may need a tissue box. Expand
  52. Jan 15, 2014
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. For his next project, the big shot Hollywood director(in Sullivan's Travels) aspires to make a "message film" about the poor, but in the process, ends up demeaning the underprivileged class when he goes undercover dressed in hobo apparel as research for an adaptation of O Brother Where Art Thou, a dramatic piece that the studio hack is ill-suited for, since his filmography consists of profitable, but mostly forgettable comedies. In stark contrast to his lightweight oeuvre, John Sullivan suddenly develops a conscious; he wants to experience "the real world", a world he knows next-to-nothing about. Solomon Northup, albeit an imperfect analogue to John Sullivan, arguably, undergoes a similar journey. After all, how much did a free Negro have in common with a slave? The progressive north of 12 Years a Slave, where a black man and his family could walk down any street without hassle, doesn't at all resemble the real world, but more like the 19th century of some parallel universe. When Solomon wakes up, shackled, in a darkened cell, after two men, alleged circus promoters, the night prior, laces the fiddle player's wine with a sedative, it recalls the same topsy-turvy scenario that befalls John, who, after flaunting his wealth to the wrong hobo, from a boxcar, rouses from his incapacitated state and ends up becoming a slave to the state, just another felon in a chain gang, a prosperous man made anonymous. Sheltered entertainers both, skin color is the lone prevailing trait that the filmmaker and violinist have in common with their respective people. Despite being black, Solomon is separated by class. The bourgeois Negro, following his vicious indoctrination to the south, with a bloodied backside, kicks away the plate of slop laid down by his captor, an instinct predicated on upbringing and self-image, the same factors that compel John and the "The Girl" to reject the food they're served at a soup kitchen. When a fellow kidnappee counsels Solomon on their unlawful predicament, the musician speaks as if he lives in a vacuum, telling the other prisoner, "I don't want to survive. I want to live." Well, so would his southern counterparts. This sociological differentiation rears itself most prominently on the cotton plantation, in a scene where Patsey, the slave whom Master Epps fixes himself erotically on, requests that Solomon help assist her in suicide, down by the river. With unintended hubris, he asks Patsey, "How can you fall in such despair?" Sure, being a slave for twelve years is cruel, but it's a sentence that pales in comparison to a lifetime of indentured servitude. "God forgives merciful acts," ensures Patsey, who needs to convince Solomon that the perceived transgression is not a sin. God, always an abstract and malleable construct, according to Patsey, sees Negroes as people, not property, whereas in The Birth of a Nation, it's the latter, since God's cameo has the effect of sanctioning Flora's self-propelling dive from the cliff as, in Patsey's own words, "a merciful act", a suicide without biblical retribution, because her pursuant, a Negro, who in accordance with the film's ideology, would certainly have raped her. Solomon, never one to participate in Negro spirituals while working Master Epps' cotton fields, finally relents at a slave funeral. No more airs. The man who once told a hysterical mother to stop mourning so audibly for her children, realizes, at long last, that he is just another n****r. As an aficionado of high art, Solomon, undoubtedly, would not be caught dead singing "Roll, Jordan Roll" back home in New York amongst his white friends. But this is not the south that Ashley Wilkes waxes poetically about in Gone with the Wind. "The high soft Negro laughter from the quarter," that he yearns for would be hard to hear over Patsey's screaming when Epps nearly whips the life out of her. In a film about slavery, there must be blood, serious blood, not puerile blood, like the Grand Guignol spectacle in Django Unchained. But to Tarantino's credit, the film does foreground the reactionary ideas behind the 1939 David O. Selznick epic, since Dr. King Schultz plays like an update of Rhett Butler, the blockade runner, who, unlike the bounty hunter, never develops a conscience about the slave trade after years of profiteering from it. The flashbacks of the runaway mandingo fighter being torn apart by dogs are Schultz's. With a start, we realize that his enlightened attitude towards Negroes was part of his role. He then breaks character; he won't shake Monsieur Candie's hand. When the faux dentist shoots him, he allows himself to be gunned down without a fight, as penance for being part of the problem; for simply being there, like Bass, Solomon's patron, who accepts payment in full for services rendered as a carpenter from slave owners. Although Bass can't shoot Epps, put Patsey on a horse, or blow up the plantation, he can write a letter. Expand
  53. Jan 13, 2014
    10
    This was really a good movie. Try to see it if you have not already seen it.

    I knew from reading history that there were free blacks, primarily in the north; and that they had to be careful not to be kidnapped and sold into slavery. Knowing it and seeing in enacted on the screen was a very different thing. Represented on the screen were all of the things/people I had read about. Not
    This was really a good movie. Try to see it if you have not already seen it.

    I knew from reading history that there were free blacks, primarily in the north; and that they had to be careful not to be kidnapped and sold into slavery. Knowing it and seeing in enacted on the screen was a very different thing. Represented on the screen were all of the things/people I had read about. Not an enjoyable movie, but unforgettable
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  54. Jan 11, 2014
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. There is a scene in the film when a Louisana plantation owner, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), confronts one of his slaves, Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), about her disappearance. Despite her entreaties to explain her brief absence she is subjected to a whipping. As the lash tears into her back members of the audience gasp, some whimper, others cry silently, but all recoil back into their seat horrifyingly transfixed by the terror of the scene, as each crack of the whip brings forth a fine spray of blood. The whole scene is the dark heart of the film and indeed, the heart of darkness of the American slave trade. It is also the most powerful scene in thirty years of filmmaking in a film that is simply a modern masterpiece, and by far the best film you will see this year.

    Therein lies a dichotomy because cinema is about entertainment and 12 Years a Slave is a gruelling watch – a harrowing, unflinching, unsentimental and absorbing examination of the barbarity of slavery. It is emotionally draining and not a film to be viewed for an evening’s entertainment. The director, Steve McQueen, first came to prominence in 1999 when he beat out Tracey Emin to win the Turner Prize and like his artwork, his three films so far – Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave – reflect the same clarity of vision, emotional intensity and economy of thought. 12 Years a Slave is set up as a grim story of survival, the mood is sombre, the tone is dark and the music (Hans Zimmer’s ‘Time’ from Inception) is perfectly suited to a piece that is a metaphor for a journey in hell.

    Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a freeman living in Saratoga, upstate New York in 1841 when he is persuaded to work for a travelling music show in Washington DC and then kidnapped and sold into slavery after a drunken night out. First into the relatively benign hands of a minister, William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), and then onto a drunken and violent plantation owner, Edwin Epps. This is where the film differs slightly from Northup’s autobiographical account of the same name, because he had a second owner, John Tibeats, an irrational and violent man who nearly killed Northup on more than one occasion. Epps was his third owner but in the film, for the sake of economy, Tibeats is portrayed as William Ford’s harrying carpenter (Paul Dano). This is the only detail in the film that differs from the book and astonishingly, the power of the scene in which Patsey is whipped has been diluted by the director, because Northup reports on brine being poured onto her back afterwards – a scene of suffering which even modern audiences would have found too much to bear.

    Steve McQueen is ably served by a fantastic cast and special mentions must be given to Sarah Paulson who plays the pitiless Mistress Epps, Lupita Nyong’O (Patsey) and above all, Michael Fassbender, who brings Edwin Epps to demonic life – a man who is a violent and sadistic bully – whose self loathing, rage and madness is agitated by his lust and abominable treatment of Patsey. A slew of awards including the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor surely beckons for Fassbender and both Ejiofor and Nyong’o will be strongly in the running for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively. Ejiofor effectively portrays the grim determination and quiet dignity of a man struggling to keep hold of his sanity in order to survive his hellish nightmare, and his sense of discombobulation early in the film is palpable. Nyong’o is the touchstone upon which the cruelties, helplessness and capricious nature of slavery are revealed and you will be left wondering about Patsey’s fate at the end credits. Sadly, you will be left disappointed, consigned as a footnote in history. Both actors deserve recognition for their work.

    12 Years a Slave is the best film ever made about slavery and retrospect has shown that it needed a non-American to make it to avoid the mawkish, reverential and over-sentimental sensibilities that would have weighed the film down if say, Steven Spielberg, had made it (consider 'Amistad' as a case in point). The historians Sue Eakin and David Fiske have researched and verified the details of Northup’s life and the minutiae of plantation slavery in his story, so there is no doubt that his ghost written autobiography is a truthful and accurate account of his ordeal. The film’s veracity and honesty is a stark reminder that in America, the issue of slavery must be examined in all its excoriating and shameful detail in the light of day. Without full closure on this issue, I cannot see how the racial divide in American society can begin to be breached, mended and healed for the development of a truly United States of America. My, and presumably, many people’s ignorance of Northup’s story is testimony to the fact that not enough is known or done about revealing the full history of slavery and the unfettered horrors, injustices and brutalities of the Atlantic Slave Trade
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  55. Jan 10, 2014
    10
    Oscar-worthy film that is a must see! All actors played their part to perfection, with Fassbender and Ejiofor being the pick of the bunch. Captured the brutality and severity of slavery in 19th Century USA, telling the story of Solomon Northup; a free black man captured and sold onto a plantation. For me the powerful performances and direction makes this an outright masterpiece... I'd evenOscar-worthy film that is a must see! All actors played their part to perfection, with Fassbender and Ejiofor being the pick of the bunch. Captured the brutality and severity of slavery in 19th Century USA, telling the story of Solomon Northup; a free black man captured and sold onto a plantation. For me the powerful performances and direction makes this an outright masterpiece... I'd even go as far to say I prefare it to Django Unchained! Expand
  56. Jan 7, 2014
    9
    Ejiofor e Fassbender já fazem o filme valer a pena.
  57. Jan 6, 2014
    10
    Excellent visuals and a strength of resisting the urge to squeeze modern politics into this classic tale brings it to the top of 2013. This story is one that may be difficult to watch if you are squeemish and want some superhero to fly in and carry them all away. It is important though, and gives a well rounded view of the times. It also holds back on the stereotypes that plague almostExcellent visuals and a strength of resisting the urge to squeeze modern politics into this classic tale brings it to the top of 2013. This story is one that may be difficult to watch if you are squeemish and want some superhero to fly in and carry them all away. It is important though, and gives a well rounded view of the times. It also holds back on the stereotypes that plague almost every other movie on this subject matter. Home run. Expand
  58. Jan 5, 2014
    10
    12 Years A Slave is one of the most heartbreaking but engrossing movies I have ever seen. With some of the most emotional performances ever seen by Chiwetel Ejiorfor and Lupita Nyong'o. Fassbender was equally as great also. I'm calling it right now that Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress all go to this film. Proud to say that it is the first movie to ever make me cry.
  59. Jan 4, 2014
    10
    One of the darkest chapters in American history has never been brought so impeccably to the screen. ‘12 Years a Slave’ tells the story of Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor; a free black man living in Saratoga Springs, New York in the 1840’s. Residing in a relatively progressive community, the man leads an upstanding life with his wife and two kids; and works as a skilled fiddlerOne of the darkest chapters in American history has never been brought so impeccably to the screen. ‘12 Years a Slave’ tells the story of Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor; a free black man living in Saratoga Springs, New York in the 1840’s. Residing in a relatively progressive community, the man leads an upstanding life with his wife and two kids; and works as a skilled fiddler and carpenter. Such a privileged life; as this is decades prior to America’s emancipation proclamation, and much of the blacks are still at the whims of white slavers. Upon meeting and celebrating with two men over a business venture; the men drug Solomon and sell him into slavery down South, where he experiences a true American Horror Story. Well; Benedict Cumberbatch as his first master, William Ford, was a very reasonable man; but “still a slave owner”, as one slave rightfully puts it. Being born in the wrong circumstances seemed true where Ford is concerned, as he was indeed a kind man; but the arrival of Michael Fassbender’s Edwin Epps, Northup’s second master; showed that blatant cruelty does exist in the hearts of some men. Evil incarnate, Epps rule over his “property” with an iron fist; and threatens his wife by striking up a complex “affair” with a slave name Patsey, who he deems the ‘Queen of the field’. Fassbeneder gives a ferocious and appropriately complex performance that warrants some serious awards consideration, and special applause must also be given to Lupita Nyong’o who plays Patsey. The brutality of the subject matter is in no way sugar coated, thanks Steve McQueen’s ballsy direction. His unflinching approach to telling the story paints a true portrait of the harshness of the slave system and drew out some staggering performances from his cast. That leads me to star, Chiwitel Ejiofor who’s put through the wringer as Northup. His arc as a naïve free man, to a man scarred by slavery was very well portrayed. Despite my enthusiasm, I was bothered by McQueen’s nonexistent representation of the passage of time in this film… after all the movie is called 12 Years and slave. But for a movie this excellent, all can be forgiven. Production design and costumes were top notch, and Sean Bobbit’s cinematography accentuates the savagery on the screen, with his many single shots. Though unsettling, don’t be discouraged from seeing it… a film this powerful deserves everybody’s attention. Expand
  60. Jan 4, 2014
    9
    This is breathtakingly well made with top notch performances up and down the cast, but without a doubt the toughest film to watch of the year. The horrific things done to these people and the way Steve McQueen unflinchingly shows them makes this a must see at least once. A
  61. Jan 2, 2014
    9
    12 Years a Slave is an exceptional film and a triumph of modern storytelling. The movie easily could have turned out to be nothing but "oscar-bait", but the extremely talented visionary director Steve McQueen never allows this to happen and turns this into one of the most powerful,unflinching films in recent memory.This film is every bit as brutal as his previous two features Shame and12 Years a Slave is an exceptional film and a triumph of modern storytelling. The movie easily could have turned out to be nothing but "oscar-bait", but the extremely talented visionary director Steve McQueen never allows this to happen and turns this into one of the most powerful,unflinching films in recent memory.This film is every bit as brutal as his previous two features Shame and Hunger, and it is never afraid to go the extra mile to show us the atrocities of slavery and human suffering. The cinematography is rich, and the performances are outstanding most notably from Ejiofor and Fassbender who truly immerse themselves in their roles. 12 Years a Slave earns my highest praise, it is an incredible movie and very much worth at least one viewing.I can't give it any less than a 9/10. Expand
  62. Lyn
    Jan 2, 2014
    10
    Haven't seen all of the year's "best" yet, but cannot imagine that I will see a film better than this one. Although grim and hard to watch at times, it affected me deeply with its combination of intensely awful actions and intensely beautiful cinematography. Chiwitel Ejiofor's performance is stunning. Perhaps the one "off" note was Brad Pitt's turn as the low-key guy who saunters in andHaven't seen all of the year's "best" yet, but cannot imagine that I will see a film better than this one. Although grim and hard to watch at times, it affected me deeply with its combination of intensely awful actions and intensely beautiful cinematography. Chiwitel Ejiofor's performance is stunning. Perhaps the one "off" note was Brad Pitt's turn as the low-key guy who saunters in and acts as savior but I guess somebody had to do it. Expand
  63. Dec 31, 2013
    9
    By far the most emotionally powerful film of the year. Also with great performances from everyone, especially Michael Fassbender who played a washed up drunk who abused himself along with his innocent slaves. Yes, it is an awkward and touchy subject at times, not just this one, but many others in the past and probably much more to come. However don't go thinking it's "Django Unchained", itBy far the most emotionally powerful film of the year. Also with great performances from everyone, especially Michael Fassbender who played a washed up drunk who abused himself along with his innocent slaves. Yes, it is an awkward and touchy subject at times, not just this one, but many others in the past and probably much more to come. However don't go thinking it's "Django Unchained", it is a factual story about a free man who was tricked into slavery through the passing of 12 years. I love movies over time, and that's what the film does, and it's actually kind of beautiful, even if Solomon's path was dark and gruesome. Throughout the film he'll meet terrible people and great people, it sort of reminded me of Forrest Gump because of its passing of time. The spirit, adventure and heart that Solomon has is what keeps him interesting and alive, and he almost feels nurturing. He feels the pain for others and cares about them, he would put himself in risk if it meant helping others. Yes, 12 Years a Slave is one of the best films you'll see this year.

    12 Years a Slave gets 9.3/10
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  64. Dec 27, 2013
    10
    Best movie I've seen since There Will be Blood. It's not often you go to see a movie and afterwords you feel horrible about the actions of your ancestor. This is not a movie you will want to watch countless times. However, just like Schindler List everyone needs to watch this to understand the horrors of slavery.
  65. Dec 13, 2013
    10
    Incredible film. Steve McQueen displays proficiency as a filmmaker in this masterfully crafted and brutal look at slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives one of the most compelling performances in cinema history, giving a multi-layered portrayal of the daily horrors suffered by his character. Other performances from Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o deserve recognition for the amount ofIncredible film. Steve McQueen displays proficiency as a filmmaker in this masterfully crafted and brutal look at slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives one of the most compelling performances in cinema history, giving a multi-layered portrayal of the daily horrors suffered by his character. Other performances from Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o deserve recognition for the amount of sophistication brought to these roles. Not to mention that the cinematography and sets for this film were amazing. This is a movie that deserves to be seen, and is easily the best so far this year. Expand
  66. Dec 5, 2013
    10
    This movie should be shown in schools. This movie can teach and explain better than any other movie has ever. It really hits it out of the park. A great performance all around and my favorite movie of the year so far.
  67. Dec 3, 2013
    10
    12 Years A Slave is a gripping engrossing film about the era of slavery in America, and how being a free man doesn't matter to slave traders and owners. Chiwetel Ejiofor deserves an Oscar nod for his stunning performance, and many other contenders are in this as well.

    This movie was realistic and engaging at every second. Even the dramatic pauses were worthwhile and definitely not a
    12 Years A Slave is a gripping engrossing film about the era of slavery in America, and how being a free man doesn't matter to slave traders and owners. Chiwetel Ejiofor deserves an Oscar nod for his stunning performance, and many other contenders are in this as well.

    This movie was realistic and engaging at every second. Even the dramatic pauses were worthwhile and definitely not a waste of time. The script inferred and hinted at events rather than just plain saying them, and that was genius.

    Overall, this movie makes you think about morals and ethics of humans. I can't fathom how slave owners could be so ruthless and passive about the whipping, selling, labor, etc. that the slaves had to go through. It's films like these that'll make this part of history never repeat itself again.
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  68. Dec 3, 2013
    10
    12 Years a Slave is a difficult movie to watch, but it is absolutely recommended viewing as an emotionally gripping tale that draws eyes open to the incredible brutality of savagery of slavery during the 1800's in the United States.

    I do not believe this movie was exploitative or unnecessary whatsoever. There are terrible and tragic things that have happened in the world's history,
    12 Years a Slave is a difficult movie to watch, but it is absolutely recommended viewing as an emotionally gripping tale that draws eyes open to the incredible brutality of savagery of slavery during the 1800's in the United States.

    I do not believe this movie was exploitative or unnecessary whatsoever. There are terrible and tragic things that have happened in the world's history, should we simply let these events fade away into obscurity?
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  69. Dec 2, 2013
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I'm glad Steve McQueen has the mentality that he has, as seen in Hunger and Shame. He, like Lars Von Trier, aren't afraid and won't hold back. This pattern is seen here again, which leaves an everlasting memory of the harsh reality faced by Solomon Northup. Great performances all around. Just amazing filmmaking, the whole team, all around. Sean Bobbitt with the great eye as well. The long takes, especially with Ejiofor hanging by the noose, wow. Nice editing. Expand
  70. Dec 1, 2013
    9
    These films about this subject matter always seem to have the same tone and plot markers, which is the reason I did not give it a full "10" score. Other than that, I feel the film easily transports you to this era and a glimpse of real events. Sympathy, anger, empathy all rolled together at one time. Perhaps even shock, despite the lack of gore and blood. Left me thinking and that is aThese films about this subject matter always seem to have the same tone and plot markers, which is the reason I did not give it a full "10" score. Other than that, I feel the film easily transports you to this era and a glimpse of real events. Sympathy, anger, empathy all rolled together at one time. Perhaps even shock, despite the lack of gore and blood. Left me thinking and that is a good mark of a good film. Expand
  71. Nov 29, 2013
    10
    This is one the best movies I have seen this year. I thought the movie did not pander to our at least mine common thoughts about slavery. Chiwetel Ejiofor is a wonderful actor and did a very good job here.
  72. Nov 25, 2013
    10
    I was unaware of the practice of kidnapping free blacks and selling them into slavery in the South... just another charming factoid about America's era of slavery. A little spiritual preparation for this film is a good idea. Also, try to hit a matinée, so you have time to decompress afterward.
  73. Nov 23, 2013
    9
    A masterful film filled with disgusting yet beautiful imagery. An all star cast with great performances by everyone. This film is not for the faint of heart.
  74. Nov 23, 2013
    9
    A masterpiece.

    This movie is an affirmation of the power that can come from oppression, as well as to possess the power of resolve and determination. It represents a major part of the American experience.
  75. Nov 23, 2013
    9
    Steve McQueen truly composes his magnum opus; a film of gut-wrenching realism that emphasizes the horrors of slavery. Truly, supreme acting, a beautiful score, and culturally accurate detail that could have fooled you that McQueen had been there himself.
  76. Nov 22, 2013
    9
    Great movie. My only complaint is that they couldn't use all the stories from the book. Some people criticizing the movie seem to have a problem with history. This wasn't made for Hollywood. it is based on true life. Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable. Brad Pitt's character speaks basically straight from the book text.
  77. Nov 22, 2013
    9
    It's the most tense 2 hours I've spent in a movie in a long time, and the angriest. To hell with white guilt, what about human guilt? We learn again that all humans need to do to become monsters is to consider another human to be not one. It's been our evil legacy since we stood upright, the ape genes we cannot seem to rid ourselves of. What strikes close to home for me is that our ownIt's the most tense 2 hours I've spent in a movie in a long time, and the angriest. To hell with white guilt, what about human guilt? We learn again that all humans need to do to become monsters is to consider another human to be not one. It's been our evil legacy since we stood upright, the ape genes we cannot seem to rid ourselves of. What strikes close to home for me is that our own history is as full of vileness as was the Nazi period, the Pol Pot period, Mao and Stalin's, Idi Amin's, with the difference being that it lasted for 300 odd years in our not to distant past.
    The movie has no gratuitous violence, no one dimensional characters, no political correctness. Just truth.
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  78. Nov 19, 2013
    10
    A great movie. Perhaps the best I've seen in several years. The story line and acting for 12 Years a Slave are exceptional. This film had excellent writing with dialogue that gave it an elevated feel. The cast and their outstanding performances melded together seamlessly.

    This was truly a remarkable movie experience. More than any other film I've seen this year, 12 Years a Slave had an
    A great movie. Perhaps the best I've seen in several years. The story line and acting for 12 Years a Slave are exceptional. This film had excellent writing with dialogue that gave it an elevated feel. The cast and their outstanding performances melded together seamlessly.

    This was truly a remarkable movie experience. More than any other film I've seen this year, 12 Years a Slave had an impact on me after I left the movie theatre. The fact that this movie is based on a true story adds to the affect. Although some parts can be difficult to watch, this movie is well worth your time to see.
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  79. Nov 17, 2013
    9
    Po' Patsy.

    12 years a slave is a story about a field named Patsy who collected 500lbs of cotton a day for her Massa', yet she don' got nothing to show for it and no comfort left in the world not even a bar o' soap to wash the gag inducing stank from her supple panthris body. Patsy got a lashin' for leaving the plantation without tellin her Massa' and then her only friend, Solomon gon'
    Po' Patsy.

    12 years a slave is a story about a field named Patsy who collected 500lbs of cotton a day for her Massa', yet she don' got nothing to show for it and no comfort left in the world not even a bar o' soap to wash the gag inducing stank from her supple panthris body. Patsy got a lashin' for leaving the plantation without tellin her Massa' and then her only friend, Solomon gon' left her to be a freeman. All in all, all I can say is, po' Patsy, po' Patsy.
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  80. Nov 16, 2013
    10
    12 Years A Slave is a gripping engrossing film about the era of slavery in America, and how being a free man doesn't matter to slave traders and owners. Chiwetel Ejiofor deserves an Oscar nod for his stunning performance, and many other contenders are in this as well.

    This movie was realistic and engaging at every second. Even the dramatic pauses were worthwhile and definitely not a
    12 Years A Slave is a gripping engrossing film about the era of slavery in America, and how being a free man doesn't matter to slave traders and owners. Chiwetel Ejiofor deserves an Oscar nod for his stunning performance, and many other contenders are in this as well.

    This movie was realistic and engaging at every second. Even the dramatic pauses were worthwhile and definitely not a waste of time. The script inferred and hinted at events rather than just plain saying them, and that was genius.

    Overall, this movie makes you think about morals and ethics of humans. I can't fathom how slave owners could be so ruthless and passive about the whipping, selling, labor, etc. that the slaves had to go through. It's films like these that'll make this part of history never repeat itself again.
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  81. Nov 16, 2013
    10
    Filming harrowing memories of Solomon Northup. It really happened. The year is 1841. In the north of the United States for years blacks citizens enjoy freedom. However, in the southern states there is still slavery. Based in Washington, DC Solomon Northup a free and educated black man, father of two children, happy husband and a respected citizen is a trick kidnapped and sold to slaveFilming harrowing memories of Solomon Northup. It really happened. The year is 1841. In the north of the United States for years blacks citizens enjoy freedom. However, in the southern states there is still slavery. Based in Washington, DC Solomon Northup a free and educated black man, father of two children, happy husband and a respected citizen is a trick kidnapped and sold to slave traders. Film Sensational. Expand
  82. Nov 12, 2013
    9
    12 years a slave, truly a masterpiece worthy of multiple Oscar nominations if not wins!
    Amazing acting by all actors and actresses, I'm not gonna lie. I'm a bit disappointed in how, Brad Pitt had less than 10 minutes of screen time. None the less, amazing cinematography and use of colour. Every second of this movie looked as if it could be a professional portrait. A must see movie.
    12 years a slave, truly a masterpiece worthy of multiple Oscar nominations if not wins!
    Amazing acting by all actors and actresses, I'm not gonna lie. I'm a bit disappointed in how, Brad Pitt had less than 10 minutes of screen time. None the less, amazing cinematography and use of colour. Every second of this movie looked as if it could be a professional portrait. A must see movie. One of this years best!
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  83. Nov 12, 2013
    10
    "12 Years a Slave" strips the hollywood gloss from America's most disgraceful period, McQueen's realist direction and the cast's awards-worthy performances capturing the horror and bleakness of the life of a slave that is altogether required viewing.
  84. Nov 11, 2013
    10
    Every so often, there comes a film that is so grotesque, so brutal in its depiction on the degradation of the human spirit and the treatment of human beings, that it’s almost impossible to ignore. 12 Years a Slave is that movie. The film is a harrowingly real nightmare of a film.

    Despite its relentlessly violent and disturbing content, the film is a must watch. The beauty of a film
    Every so often, there comes a film that is so grotesque, so brutal in its depiction on the degradation of the human spirit and the treatment of human beings, that it’s almost impossible to ignore. 12 Years a Slave is that movie. The film is a harrowingly real nightmare of a film.

    Despite its relentlessly violent and disturbing content, the film is a must watch. The beauty of a film titled 12 Years A Slave, is it’s straightforwardness and self-aware narration. Like so many movies before it, this remarkable tale of Solomon Northup’s unbelievable journey of survival, may not be familiar from the character names, but the story shares many narrative arcs of other slavery driven melodramas. Fortunately for us, 12 Years a Slave breaks its cliché stigma thanks simply to one of the greatest living directors working today, Steve McQueen. McQueen, an enigmatic British story teller, has had indie success since his riveting Hunger and more importantly, the sadly overlooked Shame. Having an incredible visual understanding as well as dramatically perverse eye, McQueen captures an unapologetic and extraordinary film of the tackle of evil, and the eventual glory of justice.

    12 Years a Slave is a film based heavily off of Solomon Northup’s memoir Twelve Years A Slave. Gestating from Solomon’s life as an acclaimed violinist, to the cruel unwilling insertion of Solomon to slavery in the Deep South, the film takes very little liberties of Northup’s brave literary piece. Chronicling Solomon’s decade plus of slavery, from plantation overseers to slave owners, and all the people that he meets in-between, Northup the man, and the character, is truly a testament to the extent of the human spirt and the marvel of selfishness and tolerance.

    Slavery is a subject that cannot be ignored when flipping through the pages of history books, especially American history. As sad as it is to admit, slavery is just as much a part of learning of the past as glory and success is. The thing about the subject of slavery when it comes to the film medium is that audiences already know what to expect; lashings, whippings, lynching, sexual and physical abuse, injustice and unexplainable cruelty. The difference between knowing these facts and seeing them on the screen, is the emotional response the poetic visuals provide. Like any spectacular painting, this moving piece of art is like any paint-to-canvas product, more stunning and hypnotizing the longer you stare at it.

    Many could argue that 12 Years A Slave is an overly dramatized, artsy recantation of a man’s struggle to freedom. From grueling, neck-breaking long takes, to several extreme close ups, to musically laden chants, the film is a fine piece of cinematic showcasing for its director and many talented individuals involved. 12 Years A Slave is, without a doubt, McQueen‘s most commercial work. But do not get discouraged, because unlike so many talented directors in the past to substitute commercial success with artificial, flaky pieces of cinema, McQueen uses his talent to attract one of the film’s most talented qualities, its cast.

    Unflinching and naturally statuesque is Chiwetel Ejiofor, who will no doubt get some Oscar recognition, and perhaps even a win for his enslaving portrayal of Solomon Northup. Ejiofor inhabits a passion of previous confident actors in his role as Northup similar to that of Poiteir, Washington and Redford. From the start of McQueen’s body of work, one of the most noticeable and gratifying similarity all three lead males share, is the control and power of their gaze. From Michael Fassbender in Hunger and Shame, and now to Ejiofor in 12 Years, Ejiofor and McQueen create a fiery, personal relationship of gazes and stares that act as another character for audience members to empathize with. Whether it be on a train, hungrily undressing a redhead in the opening scene of Shame, to a hopeful yet empty stare into the humid swamps of the South, it is in these simplistic stares and silent revelations where we weep, we cry, and we feel an immense sorrow for a man stripped of everything.

    Along with Ejiofor and also destined for Oscar recognition is Lupita Nyong’o. Accepting and willing to succumb to death rather than live a life of slavey and the apple of her owner Edwin Epps’ (Michael Fassbender) affection, Nyong’o delivers in a way that could only be best described as classical and timeless; a way that only Jane Eyre enthusiasts could comprehend.
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  85. Nov 10, 2013
    10
    This is a a very we'll done movie. Has a lot of good actors, they fit the characters perfectly. Also it being a true movie makes it a good movie for the whole family. But I'd say 14+ with adult supervision.
  86. Nov 9, 2013
    10
    A MUST SEE FILM! One of the best historical films to date. Outstanding performances all around and amazing Special Effects. There were a few people that walked out during some scenes, what a shame!
  87. Nov 5, 2013
    10
    Wildly ambitious but restrained, 12 YEARS A SLAVE is an absolutely astonishing accomplishment. That rare mainstream work that draws us in through a character's strict POV but makes a huge statement and while examining a system of slavery built on torture, brutality and greed. 12 YEARS A SLAVE is a major work that should be required viewing for all human beings. It's that good.
  88. Nov 5, 2013
    9
    Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers a stunning performance as a free black man, who's abducted into pre-Civil-War slavery. He manages to hold onto his hope and dignity, while enduring horrendous cruelties, both mental and physical. The cast is full of outstanding performances with Michael Fassbender and newcomer Lupita Nyong'o delivering memorable moments. Director Steve McQueen has incredibleChiwetel Ejiofor delivers a stunning performance as a free black man, who's abducted into pre-Civil-War slavery. He manages to hold onto his hope and dignity, while enduring horrendous cruelties, both mental and physical. The cast is full of outstanding performances with Michael Fassbender and newcomer Lupita Nyong'o delivering memorable moments. Director Steve McQueen has incredible skills for observation and visual artistry. Every image is beautiful. Despite the stifling oppression and unflinching violence, there's a certain detachment that renders the outcome more observation than experience. Still, this is a masterpiece of cinematic skill and a story that's all the more incredible because it's true. Expand
  89. Nov 4, 2013
    9
    This is a movie after the book with the same name by Solomon Northup It is a story of a free black man from New York state who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

    This is a great movie, intense and very well done. Plenty of graphic and cruel details which would make it hard to watch for some. But we have to know our history. The movie is somewhat un-even, some scenes are better than
    This is a movie after the book with the same name by Solomon Northup It is a story of a free black man from New York state who was kidnapped and sold into slavery.

    This is a great movie, intense and very well done. Plenty of graphic and cruel details which would make it hard to watch for some. But we have to know our history. The movie is somewhat un-even, some scenes are better than others. So, I do not give it 10 but 9 out of 10.

    This is one of the best movies of the year so far.
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  90. Nov 4, 2013
    10
    This movie will make you cry and want to scream in the theater at the same time. It really messes with your emotions. There are parts during the film that you have to dissociate and forget where you are and who you are. It's surreal to think we live in this world when presented with stuff like this.
  91. Nov 3, 2013
    10
    Why? Why on God's green Earth did this masterpiece get the same user score as the movie "Happy Feet." This is a flawless interpretation of slavery and the culture that African and African-American people experienced during the U.S.'s years of black oppression. The acting is astounding, story unexpected (likely, considering the movie is an adaptation of a true story) and all in all the filmWhy? Why on God's green Earth did this masterpiece get the same user score as the movie "Happy Feet." This is a flawless interpretation of slavery and the culture that African and African-American people experienced during the U.S.'s years of black oppression. The acting is astounding, story unexpected (likely, considering the movie is an adaptation of a true story) and all in all the film comes out leaving you speechless with any peer you may or may not view the film with. This is an utterly exceptional movie that gives you possibly the best and most accurate film adaptation of slave life. This movie will, without a doubt, stay in my eyes as one of the most powerful movies I've ever seen. Expand
  92. Nov 2, 2013
    10
    "12 years A Slave" is beautifully written with well crafted performances from the actors and actresses bringing the script to life. The film is brilliant and powerful, reminding audiences what this nation was built upon and how it shaped the course of history. Some scenes in the film was so painful to watch, it was hard to look at the screen. The performances of each actors from Chiwetel"12 years A Slave" is beautifully written with well crafted performances from the actors and actresses bringing the script to life. The film is brilliant and powerful, reminding audiences what this nation was built upon and how it shaped the course of history. Some scenes in the film was so painful to watch, it was hard to look at the screen. The performances of each actors from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Paul Giamatti, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o was so moving and believable that audiences can feel every bit of the suffering, loss and despair the characters they portrayed. This is definitely going to be the movie to remember of the year and easily a contender for Best Picture, Directing and Cast. Expand
  93. Nov 1, 2013
    10
    I just finished viewing 12 years a Slave, and i have to say the movie was very compelling, and it donned on me that although they talk about the underground railroad during Black History (mostly in February for those that don't get this information or just footnoted in certain schools), they don't talk much if at all about Human Trafficking of African American during the time of slavery,I just finished viewing 12 years a Slave, and i have to say the movie was very compelling, and it donned on me that although they talk about the underground railroad during Black History (mostly in February for those that don't get this information or just footnoted in certain schools), they don't talk much if at all about Human Trafficking of African American during the time of slavery, which if even 10% of this account of Solomon Northup is true is astonishing to me. How is this man not a celebrated Hero (Not just African American but of all Americans in general).

    A lot of Critics that i have read said that Brad Pitt's role as Bass in the film was very small. I completely disagree, He greatly shows the contrast and contradiction in the Failed logic of slavery, and the dehumanization of it. He's one of the few white men with great conviction and honor in the film since he is based of an actual person i guess in real life too. Although is on screen time was very short is impact was great.

    What the film really does is show the plight of people (both black and white) during this time. Although clearly the Slaves get the worst end of it. It was indeed Solomon Northup's story, but it show's white southerner in circumstances that are beyond their control due to their station, and as much as some would like to change things they simply can't because the system set forth is too great. This is manifested in several different ways, and the actors did an amazing job portraying there frustration for the situation they found themselves in. Mentally what the slaves had to endure, is completely unfathomable, this is apparent in several scenes throughout the film, just to endure the situations they are put in, it's clear they have to detach themselves and do the most unspeakable things to survive. Eliza whom you meet in the beginning of the film, and Mistress Shaw are great examples.

    To me this is America, this is what this country was built on, there are several ideal that still hold true today, as convoluted and as sick as they were then. This is an amazing film i would suggest people go see it. WARNING, there are scenes that are really tough to watch, but don't turn away. Chiwetel Ejilor, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt, all have standout performances.
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  94. Oct 31, 2013
    10
    FYI The one negative is a guy who gave "Sorority Row" a 10. Just saying. PS 12 Years a Slave is a masterpiece. Keep an eye out for attention-whoring trolling.
  95. Oct 27, 2013
    10
    More than I expected. Definitely an oscar-worthy movie! Although it was really graphic at times it never felt forced or unrealistic. I fully recommend this movie but can understand other people complaining about not being the type of film to watch more than once. It is pretty intense and draining.
  96. Oct 26, 2013
    9
    The actors in this film did their job to a T. I felt the director filmed the rape and sex scenes tastefully where they did not take away story. Yes, rape is not tasteful. But, instead of me sitting crying in pain for the victim, I was crying for the overall plight of victim. Rape was just one layer of the violation she had to endure.

    The overall view of slavery seem tame compared to
    The actors in this film did their job to a T. I felt the director filmed the rape and sex scenes tastefully where they did not take away story. Yes, rape is not tasteful. But, instead of me sitting crying in pain for the victim, I was crying for the overall plight of victim. Rape was just one layer of the violation she had to endure.

    The overall view of slavery seem tame compared to the reading of slave journals. This movie has violence. Oh, yes violence. But, the Roots tv series seemed more violent than this movie. Also, the northern states relationships of white and blacks seemed to have a 'modern' take in my opinion.

    In the end, this movie was very good. I was wept, prayed and hated for 2 hours. A wonderful exercise of the emotional senses.
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  97. Oct 25, 2013
    9
    More an "important" film than a "great" film (but a VERY important almost great film). The acting is very good (and sometimes even great Lupita Nyong'o should win an Oscar for best supporting actress), and the direction is competent. What carries the film is the actual narrative that Solomon Northrup provided over a century and half ago. An amazing true story that makes me sit in aMore an "important" film than a "great" film (but a VERY important almost great film). The acting is very good (and sometimes even great Lupita Nyong'o should win an Oscar for best supporting actress), and the direction is competent. What carries the film is the actual narrative that Solomon Northrup provided over a century and half ago. An amazing true story that makes me sit in a theater as an American and consider my country both how far we've come but how much we obscure. Slavery, though, is ultimately a human narrative and not a national narrative, and I deeply respect what all the people in this film intend to make mass audiences reflect on. Expand
  98. Oct 20, 2013
    10
    According to Solomon Northup's "Twelve Years a Slave," he tells a true story about a free black man was bondage for twelve years. Steve McQueen ("Hunger" and "Shame") has directed his true masterpiece of an African American citizen from Saratoga, New York was kidnapped by two strangers and he was forced into slavery from 1841 through 1853. Chiwetel Ejiofor, who portrays as Solomon Northup,According to Solomon Northup's "Twelve Years a Slave," he tells a true story about a free black man was bondage for twelve years. Steve McQueen ("Hunger" and "Shame") has directed his true masterpiece of an African American citizen from Saratoga, New York was kidnapped by two strangers and he was forced into slavery from 1841 through 1853. Chiwetel Ejiofor, who portrays as Solomon Northup, plays a wonderful performance and the cast did an excellent job including, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Brad Pitt. Mr. McQueen shows the entire film of taking back in time of where Solomon Northup was kept in slavery with possible events like he has to command orders by working, he needs to survive while he's on control, and he stands himself to face opportunity for becoming a slave. This film is amazing true event about a free black man was bondage in twelve years. It's a powerful, emotional, and gripping movie I ever seen and it's one of the best year's of 2013! Thanks to Steve McQueen for creating an inspiring movie and it tells a great message about a survival became slavery for his past journey. Expand
  99. Oct 19, 2013
    10
    Despite a melodramatic Hans Zimmer score, the worst kind of Hollywood fanfare imaginable for this tender piece of cinema, McQueen elegantly crafts 12 Years a Slave. His camera floats through fields of cotton like a ghost, lingers on the edge in wide shots as death hangs in the air, or races from character to character as intensity builds and blood flows from the backs of the innocent. HisDespite a melodramatic Hans Zimmer score, the worst kind of Hollywood fanfare imaginable for this tender piece of cinema, McQueen elegantly crafts 12 Years a Slave. His camera floats through fields of cotton like a ghost, lingers on the edge in wide shots as death hangs in the air, or races from character to character as intensity builds and blood flows from the backs of the innocent. His impulse is to move in towards Ejiofor's tearful eyes, reflecting action through a lens rather that simply showing it for gratuitous pleasure. There's much of Solomon's predicament that McQueen's film never quite penetrates, classist issues and relationships formed while surviving plantation life. But as an exercise in emotion, 12 Years a Slave is unflinching and artful. It's the closest we'll come to living out and feeling this tragedy. Director Steve McQueen's eye is better than his sense of pacing in the nevertheless devastating drama 12 Years a Slave, featuring a standout performance from Serenity's Chiwetel Ejiofor. Expand
  100. Oct 19, 2013
    9
    This is one those movie experiences where it's just so good, but it's just incredibly tough to watch! It's such a moving experience. It was filled with tremendous acting, especially from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender! Plus it showed a great direction coming from Steve McQueen! Overall, it's one of the most powerful movies I've ever seen! Fair warning though, watch at your own risk.
Metascore
97

Universal acclaim - based on 48 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 48
  2. Negative: 0 out of 48
  1. Reviewed by: Emma Dibdin
    Jan 14, 2014
    80
    Visceral, vital and anchored by its earnest performances, this is a potent portrait of a shameful historical truth.
  2. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Jan 6, 2014
    80
    Falling between the twin pillars of the art house and prestige period flick, 12 Years A Slave is history lesson as horror film, powerful, visceral and affecting. And after years of being great in everything, Chiwetel Ejiofor shines in a lead worthy of his immense talent.
  3. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 7, 2013
    100
    There has never been a movie like 12 Years a Slave, which is Hollywood's shame. Miss it, and that mistake is yours.