Film Blog

12 Years a Slave – A Missed Opportunity?

posted by the hanging out team - Sunday, January 26, 2014

12 Years a Slave is adapted by screenwriter and novelist John Ridley and directed by Steve McQueen from a memoir written 150 years ago, by Solomon Northup.  It tells the true story of a black man born free in New York State, tricked, drugged and snatched off the streets of Washington and sold into slavery in the South.

There are great performances from all cast members with, Chiwetel Ejiofor holding on to the dignity of Northup, making the audience question what you would do if your freedom and power were taken away over night. Lupita Nyong'o makes a stunning debut as Patsey, a field slave who was born into slavery.

McQueen effortlessly draws you along the journey of the film with strong powerful visuals that tackle and immerse you into the ugly realities of slavery head on.

We get a well composed continued shot of Solomon's wondering face full of hope, fear and loss after a conversation with a sympathetic carpenter Bass, played by Brad Pitt, then his view falls onto the audience, engaging you into this moment of reflection on the journey he’s been through.

We also see Northup become the victim of an attempted lynching by his overseer, as he dangles from a tree by his neck, his toes scrabbling on the ground desperately trying to keep him self from dying. McQueen shoots this scene as a punishing long take from a distance. It’s length and intensity impresses on the audience a feeling of crisis.

The film has a very swift end, that feels rushed and I was left wanting more of Solomon Northup’s journey as a free man in New York. What was everyday life like for black people during that time in the free North? An opportunity was missed here to delve deeper into this story, as I think only then would the audience have truly been able to feel the real contrast between having freedom in one moment and then losing it all in the next.

You can watch 12 Years a Slave until the 30th January at the Rich Mix in Bethnal Green.

Elam Forrester, Hanging Out Project Writer

Recent Posts


New York State Anthony Katagas Christoph Waltz Bill Camp Kibwe Tavares British epic Bethnal Green true story Sean Paul Taran Killam Kilburn 50th Anniversary of Jamaica’s independence Richard Parker Joseph Logsdon Science Fiction Steve McQueen marek tarkowski Bob Marley’s son Kelsey Scott Paul Giamatti film Christopher Berry Fantasy Superman Sarah Paulson Stoker Trevor D Rhone Shaggy Robots of Brixton Best Picture Ang Lee African American Felicity Leonardo DiCaprio 2013 Sundance Film Festival violent Benedict Cumberbatch Memory Loss Zanzibar Devyn A. Tyler Ky-mani Marley Quvenzhané Wallis black man Morgan Heritage Arnon Milchan Patsey freedom violence Best Actor Sly and Robbie Peter Sarsgaard historical Joe Walker Oscars Sizzla Dementia Garret Dillahunt controversy Dede Gardner Django Unchained Washington Benghal Tiger Platt Hanging Out Project HBO TV Bob Marley nine Academy Award CGI Dwight Henry One Love Rich Mix 12 Years a Slave Writer Lupita Nyong'o Frank Langella long take The Harder They Come Hanging Out Louisiana Black Friday New Orleans Henry Caville Bocage revenge The Life of Pi Cameron Zeigler Jay Huguley memoir Robot and Frank Illustrator Bill Pohlad Poster Rob Steinberg Brixton Riots Sean Bobbitt west end pub Britney Spears Alfre Woodard Robert Redford novelist Best Director Russell Crowe Jamaica 150 years ago short film Ruth Negga Wyclef Jean The Avengers Jamie Foxx Saratoga Springs Destrehan Scoot McNairy Magnolia Quentin Tarantino freeman 1853 fieldslave lynching Michael Fanti Cherine Anderson Jeremy Kleiner Deep South best motion picture Michael Fassbender Drama drugged carpenter Bass America channel 4 interview screenwriter Brad Pitt 2014 Golden Globes Michael K. Williams John Ridley Factory Fifteen walk the line tricked Slaves Idris Elba Jonah United States Slavery Madonna Paul Dano Chiwetel Ejiofor free North overseer Adepero Oduye Zack Snyder Elam Forrester cotton Regency Enterprises Chris Chalk Sue Eakin Man of Steel Michael Shannon Bryan Batt Hans Zimmer Yvonne Deutschman Rick Elgood Sundance Film Festival Prometheus Don Letts Solomon Northup


    Business Hubs

    Tuareg Productions LTD
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space
    Hub Space