Criticism of 12 Years a Slave

Connor Walker Holsinger and Barton American Studies 24 November 2013 Extra Credit: 12 Years a Slave Upon viewing the film, my first reaction was that I expected what I saw. I always knew that slavery was a horrible thing and I think that the film did a fantastic Job of portraying the cruelty of slavery. There were some parts of the film that I did not expect however. For instance, in beginning where Solomon was essentially captured into slavery, I had mentally pictured it differently.

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I had always pictured the people taking him out back and knocking him unconscious, not him being knocked out by liquor only to wake up in a cell. The movie definitely did a good Job of helping me understand why and how he was captured. I was also amazed at how it seemed that the people ignored the fact that he was educated, clearly for him to learn violin as well as he did he mustVe been educated, but they ignored this. I think that the most gut wrenching scene for me was near the end of the movie.

That was when Patsey was tied to the post and flogged by Solomon, that really spoke to me because of how not only Patsey had to suffer but Solomon had to as well. Also, when they were cleaning Patseys wounds, it was the first time that I had ever seen an accurate visual epresentation of what whipping did. I had always thought that it hurt but for me I had never imagined it doing as much damage as it did. For me, the purpose of why McQueen made this movie was to show people what slavery was actually like.

I think that he was tired of viewing all of the past inaccuracies about slavery and was attempting to correct some of them. He believed that Hollywood was not doing a good Job of portraying what slavery was like, he believed that the story of this individual, and individual who was free and then forced into slavery, would enlighten the public. McQueen is right in believing that Hollywood had hitherto done a poor Job of explaining what slavery was. The skirted around the graphic scenes, or made it a bloodbath that simply wasn’t true. The whole attitude and tone of this movie is dark.

It left me with a sense of hopelessness throughout the whole movie because I kept seeing Solomon’s attempts at freedom failing, and him paying the price for it. Some of the techniques that McQueen used to help make this film effective included the long shot, close ups, almost every type of lighting, tracking shots, follow shots, fade ins/outs, cuts, and different types of space/ composition. The film uses an initial scene of Solomon in slavery, followed by the flashbacks of Solomon being enticed to Washington and then captured, to help raise the question of how could people let this happen?

This structure allowed the viewer to instantly become engaged with the film and seek answers throughout the whole viewing. As the story progresses, it eventually reaches its climax when they beginning scene is again replayed, then at last Solomon is reunited with his family in the last scene and the film ends with a very emotional family scene, all together creating a beautiful and touching ending to an otherwise morose and dark movie. he says the McQueen wants to keep you in your seat and not force you out sobbing.

I am definitely in agreement with her point that because Solomon was initially free, he could view this whole experience with intelligence and accuracy, which makes his memoir a very reliable source. I did disagree with her opinion that there were no good masters; I do believe that Solomon’s first master actually did have humanity in him. But I do think that this review is a very accurate review of the film and the techniques it used to convey its message about the true horrors of slavery that had so far been grossly misrepresented.

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