12 Years A Slave – Movie Review

Posted: December 28, 2013 in Entertainment, Movies, Reviews

In my last post I wrote about the movie, The Act Of Killing, which I stated was an extremely disturbing movie about Indonesian genocide being re-enacted by sociopathic executioners.  I got a few comments from people asking why I would watch such a depressing and violent film.

And yet, for all of its disturbing nature it does not hold a candle to 12 Years A Slave in the depiction of brutal violence.  This is not a judgement, just a fact.  12 Years A Slave is full of brutal, graphic scenes of bloody whippings by sadistic, mentally deluded white masters.  And I mean lots.  The slave owners depicted in the film are every bit as deranged and deluded in their world view as the Indonesian sociopaths.  They both show the ability of the human mind to rationalize and justify any action, fueled by ideologies and by fear of their own weaknesses.  The difference is that the executioners in The Act of Killing exhibited remorse at the end of the film, while the hatred and bigotry of the slave owners endures throughout the movie, supported and rationalized by Bible readings proposed as justifications of their actions.  While the American south has come a long way in the last 150 years, this kind of sociopathic thinking still endures in more than a few pockets since the kind of dysfunction that breeds it still endures.

12 Years A Slave is an intense, brutal and violent film, designed to depict the worst of the bad and unjust treatment endured by slaves in the early 1800s.  It lays bare all of the characters involved, showing the complete despair of the slaves and the delusions of the masters.  It even does a fair job of showing a range of white slave owners, although it concentrates on the worst, -probably because the victim in the true story had his fair share of the worst.  The film is peppered with a lot of high octane talent, all of whom do excellent jobs.  Their acting, the authentic settings and a powerful story immerse you in an experience which is not in the least enjoyable, but is enlightening.  As I watched the film in the theatre I could sense the squirming around me.  In that way, it is very similar to The Act Of Killing.

It is an excellent film.  That, along with being a story related to civil liberties, probably insures at least an Oscar nomination if not a win.   I would give this film an A.

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