Rating: 4/5 (after I had just watched it), 5/5 after it sunk in.
Fabulous ending but, for me, very confusing. I kept leaning over to ask Harry to explain things!
The British Curriculum doesn't teach American history so most of what I know is from films. I once took a course on Black History Studies but due to work commitments I dropped out after the first term. Well, I say "work commitments" but deep down I think some of the truths were too intense for me. Some of the knowledge actually started making me hate white people so I thought maybe I wasn't ready yet!
12 Years A Slave assumed quite a lot of knowledge and many of the scenes were horrific. The cruelty of American slave masters seemed to know no bounds but at least even within that there were a few glimpses that not everyone was so hard-hearted.
I loved the scene early in the film when a ship arrived at the port and one of the kidnapped slaves was immediately reclaimed by his master. They both seemed elated to see each other.
There were a couple of longeurs, for instance, the scene when Platt was lynched was left on for far too long - it was a very evil scene and not something that needed to be played out that long.
There were quite a few things that I didn't know, for instance, I am learning more and more that there were free black people in the North of America that led very ordinary lives. This makes me wonder:
I found the relationship between the last slave owner and Patsey most confusing:
Then there was the scene where that white farmer seemed to have married one of the slaves. I wondered whether that was actually the case and if so, how that worked given I understand there were laws at the time that disallowed interracial marriage.
Ultimately, this is a period in time with so many stories. I wonder to what extent films depict reality. 12 Years A Slave was an interesting, yet heart-wrenching lesson for me. I could never willingly watch it again, but I would definitely watch the sequel that tied up the loose ends.
"Black People Only Get Awards For Slave Films"
I have read many comments to this effect widely on the internet and I think this is one of the worst things that has come out after the film. 12 Years A Slave was a good film period. It won best film/picture at the Oscars because it was very well acted. We still live in a world where, by and large, mainstream films don't have black people as main characters.
I personally don't think good acting has anything to do with race. If you have a good story, a great producer and find people that can act, the makings of a good picture are all there. Those who get the opportunity to act at that level have the opportunity to win amazing awards.
I think anyone who holds the opinion that black people only win awards is rather small minded and isn't thinking about the bigger picture - not only the history - but the current status quo in terms of what producers think people will watch. 'Nuff Said...
I can't believe I didn't review the book when I read it about four or five years ago.
The film did the book justice (more or less) but there is obviously some depth that couldn't be included in a short film. For instance, in the book, when the slaves were being walked through the town I feel that the scene was described with more intensity and feeling compared to what I saw in the film, e.g. the thinness of the prisoners was explained in more detail.
Ultimately, I didn't know what to expect. A review in the Evening Standard suggested the film wasn't good and that Liesel's hair was too perfect. I beg to differ, I was weeping almost constantly. The film was a real tear-jerker for me and I don't cry that often!
Definitely worth reading and worth watching. Read the book first:
I haven't been to the Cinema since March or April 2013 and this film reminded me why I love the cinema so much - I switched off completely and just enjoyed it.
Well done, Leo!
Intense. That's the only way to describe it. Fantastic acting; I loved Macy Gray although her scene was very short; a lot of the poetry went right over my head so I'm going to look it up because it was all really deep.
When Thandie Newton's sister in the film was about to have the abortion that's when I first felt my blood pressure rising, I was glad they didn't show any of the abortion but my relief was very short-lived.
The rape scene had my blood boiling. It was so unexpected. The guy came on as such a gentleman, he planned the perfect rape: dinner first, then he gets the girl to invite him over to her house and then he does it! I was in shock but it's "the scene with the kids" that had my heart in my throat. Unspeakable.
I didn't cry but I definitely felt very emotional throughout the film.
And in the scene when Janet Jackson breaks up with her husband, I just knew, I knew what was coming because that whole scenario was my sister's undergrad dissertation topic.
Then the plot line of molestation at the hands of a grandfather?! That was too much. How so much drama was packed into a single film...the film doesn't really focus on race, it's more about sisterhood, the burdens we all bear and sticking together. Race played a part in every story but it was very subtly played out.
I don't know why it took me so long to watch this great film - I've always liked Tyler Perry and I want to watch more of his films - more, more, more. A definite must-watch! You can watch it for free on YouTube!
Before you ask, no, I didn't cry - I'm made of very stern stuff but the film does tug at your heart right from the start.
This film was very well acted. It didn't feel like a typical musical because I could hear practically everything. I usually have trouble hearing in a musical.
I would have liked to see more of what life in a 19th century French prison was like. That might have made me cry.
The fact that the man was sent to jail for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread is just a sign of how horrible those times were. That said, I think some American states may be going silly with their laws too: North Carolina is planning on sentencing women that expose their breasts in public to prison for six months - apparently this won't affect breast feeding. Federal law might start giving people maximum sentences of 5 years for unlocking their own mobile phones; don't worry though you might get away with the alternative $500,000 fine! Anyway, I digress.
I hated Russell Crowe's character. I simply don't understand people who put the law above common sense.
Anne Hathaway was excellent although she didn't act in most of the film. These were awful times for poor women; she went from striking beauty to a hairless, prostitute with teeth missing in hours. It was very unpleasant to watch, especially as she was forced into all those things.
Though a much smaller role I also like Éponine, the only actress from the actual musical that made it into the film. I thought she was called Ebony until two minutes ago when I checked!!
There is so much more I could say about the film, all I'm going to say is watch it!
When I walked into Django all I knew was that it was a violent film. I had no idea it was about slavery and the civil rights movement of the 1860s.
I had seen an interview where a UK reporter had talked about how the film encourages violence. Having seen the film, I don't agree with that view at all. No mature adult would watch Django and think "I need to get me a gun!"
The whole civil rights movement is something that's not taught on the British curriculum and it is certainly something I am very curious about.
When I was a teenager one of my aunts told me that my great, great, great (I don't know how many greats) grandmother was on her way to the ships but the chief of the village fell in love with her so she was saved. I have no idea how true this story is, I still haven't asked my dad but it makes me even more curious about the whole era.
I was horrified by the scene where the dogs were let loose on the fighter that didn't want to fight anymore; I hated the scene where the slaves were forced to fight. The beatings were evil and the rules designed to subjugate black slaves utterly demoralising.
We should never forget that the slave trade initially started out with all races. It wasn't only black people that were slaves. However, it became policy to only use black slaves because we were the only ones that could survive in the heat. Other races got ill and died pretty quickly. We are uniquely born with a natural sunscreen, the colour of our skin and our afro hair.
What I loved about Django Unchained is that it empowered Django from the start. He went from slave to hero. Samuel L Jackson pissed me off so much in the film! I wanted to jump through the screen and woop his ass. Django was very well acted by Jamie Foxx and the guy who saved him was a legend too. He brought to mind that even then not every white person was a racist.
This is a film definitely worth watching.
My husband and I went to the cinema with no clear view of what we were going to see. We just wanted a break from the house on a miserable, wet day.
He said, "There's a comedy about to start, do you want to see that?" He knows I love to laugh so I said yes immediately.
The moment the film started and I heard British accents, I thought oh no - I prefer my comedy American! They just do comedy better, generally. I told my husband so too but that was the only time I had to say that.
I laughed like crazy from the very start. It is a very light hearted film. Great for relaxing. My only complaint is that the lead actress was far too thin. I think it's not acceptable or healthy to have role models that thin, the girl needs a slice of cake!
I love Jack Reacher (the character).
Lee Child's novels helped me to survive many a dreary day in the hectic world of investment banking so I was very keen to see this film and it totally met my expectations.
Jack Reacher is 6 foot 5 and Tom Cruise is only 5 foot 8 but that didn't matter; Tom Cruise did a good job of getting his body to look like a fit ex-veteran.
There were a few bits that were very far fetched, e.g. driving a car backwards at a very high speed and blending into a thin crowd when hundreds of cops were after him but this didn't spoil the fun.
My favourite part was when the old guy said, "sock it", don't worry, this knowledge won't spoil the film for you.
A few bits were a bit too 'boyish' for me, e.g. choosing to fight with hands when the gun he was already holding would have done the job a lot faster.
Conclusion: watch. This is definitely one to be seen in a cinema.
By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I'm always thinking, debating, considering and revising my views - some of those deliberations will be shared right here.