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What went wrong in '12 Years A Slave'

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12 Years a Slave


When I walked out of the theater after seeing '12 Years a Slave', it took me a while to figure out why I did not come out thinking this was a great film. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good film, but is it Oscar worthy for best picture; I do not think so. As much of a fan as I am of Michael Fassbender and anything and everything that he has done, this film did not quite do it for me.

Scenes were well shot, and camera angles were great. Some shots made the viewer feel as if they were on the same level as the slave, other shots empowered the viewer as if they were the slave owner. That being said, it didn’t work as well as it should have because the sequence of shots were never long enough to let the viewer be submerged in either role. So we are left feeling awkward after a sequence of shots. But, hey, maybe that's the point. Awkwardness is apart of watching slaves get beaten and mutilated by their owners.

As captivating as a story about a free man being sold into slavery is, I did not connect with the main character, Solomon Northup as much as I thought I should considering this film is about him. I connected and felt more for the character Patsey. If anyone should win anything come award season, it should be Lupita Nyong’o for her portrayal of Patsey. Chiwetel Ejiofor is a good actor, but this film showed me nothing of his acting abilities. Solomon Northup is a passive observer throughout most of the film. What he witnesses, we are also witnessing. At times we neither cheer for him nor do we wish his circumstances changed above anyone else. The person I wanted to be rescued the most was Patsey. Not the way a story about a major character should be displayed. Should I be surprised by that? Probably not, given that I felt the same way about Steve McQueen’s character, Brandon, in 'Shame'.


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