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Go and see 12 Years a Slave

(196 Posts)
MrsDavidBowie Sun 19-Jan-14 16:36:16

My god. What a film.
Superb dignified acting.

I needed to go and have wine after seeing it this morning.

dyslexicdespot Sun 19-Jan-14 17:39:13

DH and I are building up the courage to see it!

Clargo55 Sun 19-Jan-14 17:42:07

Watched it last night. Great acting, many tears from me.

Hope they win an Oscar or two smile

Not sure I can cope with the explicit abuse/torture hmm.
I don't see the need to make a point about the abomination that slavery is.

Blondeorbrunette Sun 19-Jan-14 17:45:45

I would love to see it but I cant cope with films that have rape scenes or people that are being beaten!

tell me theres none of that andvim definitely going.

No thank you. I sobbed through Despicable Me on TV yesterday, I think that 12 years a slave would just about finish me off.

googlenut Sun 19-Jan-14 18:02:43

I went and wish I hadn't to be honest. Yes it is an outstanding film because you don't come out the same as you went in. But I couldn't get it out of my head for days. Don't go if you are in any way sensitive.

googlenut Sun 19-Jan-14 18:03:24

Has both rape scenes and people being beaten by the way.

MrsDavidBowie Sun 19-Jan-14 18:06:04

It is up for 9 Oscars I think.
The wives of the plantation owners were particularly vile I empathy whatsoever.

Somebody on MN said that they never expected to find Django Unchained the more subtle of the 2 movies - that statement was enough to put me off seeing 12 Years.

RudyMentary Sun 19-Jan-14 18:06:42

DH and I were going to take the DCs this week.
Not suitable?

googlenut Sun 19-Jan-14 18:07:58

Defo don't take children

MooncupGoddess Sun 19-Jan-14 18:10:08

How old are the DC? It is a 15-rating so if they're older than that it should be fine, unless they're particularly sensitive in which case maybe not. It really does bring home the horrors of slavery, but is also well characterised and beautifully shot.

I thought it was excellent too - yes, some upsetting scenes, but less violence than many action films.

carabos Sun 19-Jan-14 18:13:05

Outstanding movie, difficult to watch, haunting. DH and I didn't say a word to each other all the way home as we were processing it. However, Brad Pitt was joltingly bad in it.

googlenut Sun 19-Jan-14 18:13:49

But the violence was mixed in with the emotional abuse to the slaves as well. It is very uncomfortable to watch. Which is the point if it - but u just want people to know it is not an 'entertaining' film and I wouldn't take a 15 year old.

googlenut Sun 19-Jan-14 18:16:12

Yes the only mistake was the jolting entrance of brad Pitt near the end. Kind of broke the spell of being caught up in the film.
I too was speechless when I came out. Not many films can do that.

MrsDavidBowie Sun 19-Jan-14 18:16:28

Django is a totally different film...very tongue in cheek, typical Tarantino bloodfest.
I may take ds who is nearly 15 to see it next week.

HorizontalRunningOnly Sun 19-Jan-14 18:39:10

Stunning film. Heart breaking and very affecting. Beautiful screen play and the prolonged shots unflinching in certain scenes were stunning. Amazing - nothing like django tho apart from the very broad sense of slavery and the time. Love that film as well tho but for different reasons.

smilerc Sun 19-Jan-14 18:45:03

I saw it yesterday. What a film. It is both amazing and heartbreaking. What makes it more harrowing is that it is a true story. I was shocked I didn't cry but it did affect me and will stay with me for a long time. Very well acted (except Brad. Not sure why he had to pop up) and well deserving of the Oscar nominations. I hope they win.

MrsDavidBowie, that was my point: I was hiding behind my hands even during an over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek Tarantino. I am not sure how I'd take something more realistic.
There are certain images I don't need burnt on my retina which include torture and rape scenes. I know they happen, I've dealt with victims of both, but I don't watch movies for it.

Feel free to ignore me, as I have not actually seen 12 Years.

Nancy66 Sun 19-Jan-14 18:54:47

Seeing it this week.

Brad Pitt was a financial backer

To worthy for me, sorry.

chibi Sun 19-Jan-14 18:58:23

i am going to see it on tuesday, i have heard v good things. it will be uncomfortable, but i don't think that is a bad thing necessarily

bigTillyMint Sun 19-Jan-14 18:59:29

Oh Starball, it wasn't a "worthy" film, it was a true story. I saw it this afternoon. It was about the horror that people inflict on others with their mistaken beliefs.

The torture and rape scenes were horrible, but it was the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour that were the most harrowing. And slavery still persists.

Your comment is making me well up.

ziggiestardust Sun 19-Jan-14 19:12:40

DH and I are going to see it this week... And I'm a bit nervous now!!!

TippiShagpile Sun 19-Jan-14 19:13:39

Too worthy? Really? Why?

myitchybeaver Sun 19-Jan-14 19:19:23

I found it very hard to watch and I'm usually quite tough.
The emotional abuse throughout the whole film was almost worse than the long-winded rape and beating scenes.

Very important viewing though. I thought the male lead's (his name escapes me) acting quite average, the woman (nominated for an Academy Award) excellent and as for Brad Pitt he very nearly ruined it with his bad, bad acting.

Michael Fassbender is outstanding as a vile plantation owner.

googlenut Sun 19-Jan-14 19:21:41

I think as long as you are warned its fine. It wasn't what I expected - I thought it was about a person breaking out of slavery over 12 years so that life gets progressively better. It's much darker and depressing than that without much light so it will impact you. Just don't go expecting a nice yarn about slavery. I don't want to put people of because it is a film that needed to be made and also, for me, film at its best is life changing and I will never be as passively interested in slavery of any kind ever again. It is to be actively fought against. It is still going on today with different races.

ziggiestardust Sun 19-Jan-14 19:21:43

Oh no, this thread is making me too scared to go and watch it now sad eeeekkk!

Thistledew Sun 19-Jan-14 19:28:48

People might be interested in the work of anti slavery uk.

I work with victims of slavery, mostly women trafficked for sexual exploitation, and I know I would find the film far too raw, so won't be going to see it. I am very pleased it has been made though.

googlenut Sun 19-Jan-14 19:35:03

Thank you for that Thistle

YoureBeingASillyBilly Sun 19-Jan-14 19:35:27

What does 'too worthy' mean?

Sorry, I don't do upsetting sad stories, especially if they are true.

I have never seen/read Anne Frank's diary and avoid all the stuff about the titanic.

I don't need to sit through a film about the slave trade to know it was evil.

DD1 feels the same and can't get why they have to do the holocaust 3 times at school and do nothing but plays in which people get murdered in drama.

Our crying buckets over a film and feeling miserable isn't going change anything in the world.

We already know fucking awful things happen in the world.

We have enough imagination we don't need someone to act them out for us, to me that's incredibly smug and patronising. I'm quite capable of understanding savoury was awful or Hitler was evil, without putting money in Hollywood's pocket.

I'll pay Hollywood for making me smile, that's what the entertainment industry is for, entertaining!

ThisLittlePiggyStayedHome Sun 19-Jan-14 19:37:19

As has been said above, it was both excellent and harrowing. I'm glad I saw it.

I thought the acting was good throughout, particularly from Chiwetel Elijofor and Lupita Nyong'o - wasn't blown away by Brad but also didn't find him jarringly bad. I did roll my eyes at the nature of the role he arranged for himself though hmm.

Michael Fassbender was astonishingly good, I thought. He embodied that role in a totally convincing and completely terrifying way. It's the set of his jaw, the tension in his face and the hatred behind his piercing eyes that has stayed with me since seeing the film last week. I really hopes he gets the Oscar.

slavery was awful

FanjoForTheMammaries Sun 19-Jan-14 19:40:28

We thought it was far too heavy handed and over acted I'm afraid.

FanjoForTheMammaries Sun 19-Jan-14 19:42:03


FanjoForTheMammaries Sun 19-Jan-14 19:42:03

Amd w

FanjoForTheMammaries Sun 19-Jan-14 19:42:09


YoureBeingASillyBilly Sun 19-Jan-14 19:42:34

Would it be ok to watch alone? I want to see it but dont have anyone to go with.

FanjoForTheMammaries Sun 19-Jan-14 19:42:47

And we find slavery as abhorrent as the next person.

Bakingnovice Sun 19-Jan-14 19:46:16

I'm going this week with dh. This thread is making me wonder if it'll have the same impact on me as reading 'roots' aged 21. That book was life changing, almost as if the axis if the world had shifted somewhat.

I'm looking forward to watching it.

Bowlersarm Sun 19-Jan-14 19:46:28

I don't think I'll be going. Too harrowing by the sounds of it.

Films like this are so important. They are not 'entertainment' but are about who we are and what we do as humans, for good or for bad.

I didn't watch schindler's list to be entertaine but to learn something about myself, history and people.

I will watch this film because I think I should and because Steve McQueen is an extraordinary director and artist.

Nancy66 Sun 19-Jan-14 19:47:41

I nearly always go to the cinema alone. I prefer it.

yoniwherethesundontshine Sun 19-Jan-14 19:50:08

I think the whistle blower is also essential viewing about sex slavery, rachel weiss, and how un was involved.

crypes Sun 19-Jan-14 19:52:12

My favourite film ever is The Colour Purple , i think it was perfect , the right amount of shock and abuse within the story, I think Once a Slave will go too far for me.

jennifer86 Sun 19-Jan-14 19:54:14

We went last night. Very good film but very distressing.

Youre I wouldn't recommend watching it alone. I just about managed throughout the film but broke down at the end. You might be emotionally stronger than me, but even then I would suggest waiting til its on DVD if you have to watch it alone, then at least you could stop it part way through if it was too much.

aquashiv Sun 19-Jan-14 20:00:43

I was never more relieved to see Pitt turn up as I knew thank god that the end was nigh. Powerful film the violence was horrible couldn't watch most of it but it was the degradation and the complete and utter despair of it all at times. A man who managed to keep his dignity against such a backdrop of ignorance.

I cried through Sarah's Key but it was a great film. I doubt it will be screened in Vietnam but I'd like to watch once the DVD comes out.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Sun 19-Jan-14 20:52:04

Thank you jennifer- waiting for dvd release is a good idea.

lilyaldrin Sun 19-Jan-14 20:54:55

I generally avoid rape and torture films.

idontgivearatsass Sun 19-Jan-14 21:48:29

I saw this film and I wept for my ancestors. I reflected on the journey my people have made over the last 2 centuries and look forward to our continued progress.

We shall overcome. We shall overcome. We shall overcome some day. Deep in my heart, I do believe that we shall overcome some day.

MrsDavidBowie Sun 19-Jan-14 22:04:05

I studied American history at uni and the film has made me come back and read more about the period.....I have just rewatched Lincoln this evening.
Even dh has been googling...he didn't realise that some were free men at that time in the North.
Agree that you need to know what you're in for before you go.

Loved the comment about Brad engineering the "hero" role. Not for him the psycho overseer.

idontgivearatsass Sun 19-Jan-14 22:20:27

That's the thing, viewers are debating whether we could bear to watch sadistic films. It is almost like "how dare a horrific tale be told in a horrific manner, please give me Gone with the Wind, surely those Dixie days could not be so bad!"

But if you're truly against slavery in all its forms both past and present, you wouldn't need to 'prepare' yourself to watch it, jeez it is only just over 2 hours and then your life of liberty continues.

Needing to debate whether you could stomach using 2 hours of your entire life to pay tribute to the people whose backs helped to build western economies, makes a mockery of the people who were not allowed to prepare themselves to live a live of servitude and die as dogs.

Watch it! Go with an open mind and watch it and pledge to make a difference today. This film should be required watching for all so humanity would not be tempted to sink so low as to revisit its past.

lilyaldrin Sun 19-Jan-14 22:27:51

How does watching it make a difference?

rosiejill Sun 19-Jan-14 22:28:11

I saw it at the weekend. I thought it was a great film (am a big fan of Steve McQueen) but I'm surprised that there is so much written about people finally confronting the history of slavery or being surprised at how awful it's something I studied in secondary school, have seen numerous museum exhibits about and read books about (and I'm not especially well-read). There was nothing in it that surprised me. I felt quite detached from it though, I didn't cry at all but I didn't feel as if that was the aim, not like a lot of Hollywood tear-jerkers.

RevoltingPeasant Sun 19-Jan-14 22:30:17

Yes indeed ratsass.

All those people saying that they know what slavery is... No you don't. Not unless you have been enslaved. I haven't, and I'd never presume to think I knew what it was.

The very fact that you can get people coming on a thread like this and saying "I don't get why we have to learn about the Holocaust" or "I've dealt with plenty of rape victims, so I know what that's all about, thanks" is just astonishingly naive and quite offensive.

Part of the purpose of art is to make us empathise imaginatively with experienced we can never and will never have. A film like this also makes sure we don't get compassion fatigue.

Don't see it if you don't want, but at least be honest that you are not really bothered about knowing.

idontgivearatsass Sun 19-Jan-14 22:34:43

Lily - I believe I have done a good job of explaining why it is important to watch the film so if the very best response you are able to come up with is why does watching the film make a difference then let's agree to disagree on our view of the importance of a film that gets into the nitty gritty of humans in captivity.

Idontgivearatsarse, I was trying to respond to your first post, but didn't really know how to. I think I felt embarrassed that I expressed the intent to not go and see the film when you had.

I agree that slavery was/is an abomination. As was the Holocaust which is closer to me as I am German. I have seen many movies about it, some fiction, some documentaries, some 'true stories'.
Sadism, taunting, rape etc all happened and continue to happen today, as I am well aware. I don't see how that might change by me or anybody else seeing a movie.

It is for that very reason that I find horror movies distasteful - I will never understand why anybody would spend time and money to watch Saw or the likes. I find it repugnant and morally wrong.

I don't think that movies like 12 years or Roots or The Colour Purple are in any way 'wrong', but knowing beforehand how graphic some of the scenes are, I chose not to watch. I have seen the results of torture and corporeal punishment and am likely to see it again.

Sadly, I think people who'd most need to see movies/read books about harrowing parts of human history are least likely to.

x-post with Revolting and Idont.

I am not 'not bothered about knowing' - I don't know the reality of being a slave or a Jew or any other persecuted group. And I have an inkling about how much random luck is involved in that fact.
Still don't think that seeing the film will change me or my attitude to how much cruelty and brutality the human animal is capable of.

funnyossity Sun 19-Jan-14 22:41:54

I do not think that by making a decision to not watch a film depicting rape and torture that I am not bothered about knowing.

rosiejill I agree, we studied slavery in secondary school and I 've read accounts since. As a young child the programme Roots was the most affecting thing I ever saw and scenes from that remain with me now.

MooncupGoddess Sun 19-Jan-14 22:44:17

"I will never understand why anybody would spend time and money to watch Saw or the likes. I find it repugnant and morally wrong."

I agree, but films such as 12 Years a Slave and Schindler's List are in an entirely different category. Not everyone can internalise the horrors that humans have created from reading textbooks; a good film can get inside people's heads in a way that mere facts can't.

"Sadly, I think people who'd most need to see movies/read books about harrowing parts of human history are least likely to."

Entirely agree here.

southeastastra Sun 19-Jan-14 22:44:27

i always think that these sort of films can not match a good factual documentary and agree with starballbunny

Apatite1 Sun 19-Jan-14 22:47:10

Great movie. Hope it wins lots of oscars. Am rooting for chewetel ejiofor to get best actor (old school friend of my other half!)

Is going to see this particular film really the only valid and acceptable way to come to an understanding of slavery?

What about reading books (including Solomon Northup's own book) or using other sources?

Oh gawd, yes, I was not in the least implying that horror crap is even in the same league as 12 years blush.

idontgivearatsass Sun 19-Jan-14 22:55:28

Revolting - indeed.

To Funny and others - The joy that I have is that there has been a great interest in this film everywhere given the box office success so apart from a few people like you who don't need to be told as you are already fully aware and educated on the topic, the rest of the world has lapped up the film and are busy reacquainting themselves with that period in history.

All - Thanks for debating this with me. I will now turn in for the night so I could be awake early in the morning for my very professional "white" collar job - something that my ancestors could not do for 400 years but thank God for the progress being made so far. Good night.

southeastastra Sun 19-Jan-14 22:57:39

but the slave trade is taught as part of the national curriculum isn't it now.

idontgivearatsass Sun 19-Jan-14 23:02:38

"What about reading books (including Solomon Northup's own book) or using other sources?"

Mrs Cakes - I sense you already know the answer to the question? The real question is how many people were aware of Solomon Northup before the film? Perhaps by being aware of the film they will now be prompted to read his book and other sources?

For those who are vaguely aware of this subject (so again I am excluding all those who are fully clued up as some have taken pains to exlain), awareness has to start from somewhere and why not this film?

And the people who are brushing away the film for being sadistic without sharing the other avenues from which they have gained knowledge of the subject are undermining the sacrifice of millions of people for four centuries.

idontgivearatsass Sun 19-Jan-14 23:06:08

South - do you rely on the national curriculum to teach you everything you need to know on every subject? And if not, then why so for slavery?

Normalisavariantofcrazy Sun 19-Jan-14 23:09:12

From what I've heard Amazing Grace did a better, and less graphic, job of portraying a similar topic

SinisterSal Sun 19-Jan-14 23:12:51

I'm another who won't see it, because of the violence and rape scenes. Which is a pity, I think, because maybe the story could be told as effectively without.

I am not convinced that vicious scenes in films do anything except desensitise people, really. There is a bit of boundary pushing where each has to be more shocking and visceral than the last, which suggests that is the dynamic.

HeeHiles Sun 19-Jan-14 23:12:58

I'm still traumatised from watching 'Roots' by Alex Haley back in the 70's. Don't think i could endure another film like that again!

southeastastra Sun 19-Jan-14 23:14:30

i was referring to the post 'a few people like you who don't need to be told as you are already fully aware and educated on the topic, the rest of the world has lapped up the film and are busy reacquainting themselves with that period in history.'

which implied that the slave trade wasn't common knowlegde.

Thank you all for telling me about the content of the film. I was supposed to be going to see it yesterday and was considering going on my own tomorrow.

I won't now that I know it has multiple protracted rape scenes in it as I don't watch films with sexual violence in - instead now that I know it's there I will wait til it's on Sky and fast forward the rape scenes.

It will be a wonderful achievement if the British actor Elijifor wins the Oscar, I've heard he's amazing.

idontgivearatsass Sun 19-Jan-14 23:20:30

Reacquainting is not a word that I would use when presenting a story/idea for the first time... another word I could have used is revisiting.

Please can you explain how reacquainting or revisiting could mean that something is not common knowledge?

And pray tell what is the harm in talking about something that is common knowledge from a new angle?

middleclassdystopia Sun 19-Jan-14 23:27:11

I just can't watch protracted rape scenes on screen, so I won't be going to see it.

Sadly, I think the people that should see this film, racists amongst others - are the very people who won't go and see it.

southeastastra Sun 19-Jan-14 23:28:04

it's just a bit depressing that people get their views of history from hollywood films rather than literature and real life documentation.

RevoltingPeasant Sun 19-Jan-14 23:36:57

Ratsass - I believe I am right in saying that Penguin recently reissued Northup's book as a Penguin Classic in response to the film. Which is great!

Southeast - you can do both you know! I study early C19th history but it is still worth 'seeing' what it might have been like.

Pacific - sorry, I think I found your earlier pits a little dismissive of the issue smile I'm sure you don't feel that way, though! It is interesting that you are German. I grew up in the US, and the north, and I am white, but I could still see the profound effect that slavery still has today. I think it is actually quite easy to skate over the horror even whilst "knowing" about it iyswim. It is a bit like the difference between hearing the figure of 6million and seeing a number tattooed on someone's arm, if I may make that comparison.

Laurie I did not actually find the rape scenes that graphic in the context of much modern cinema... Just in case that helps...

idontgivearatsass Sun 19-Jan-14 23:41:00


idontgivearatsass Sun 19-Jan-14 23:42:49

Revolting - yes indeed! It is also available as an ebook. I plan to get a copy.

Thistledew Mon 20-Jan-14 01:03:06

RevoltingPeasant - I have to take issue with what you said upthread "The very fact that you can get people coming on a thread like this and saying ..."I've dealt with plenty of rape victims, so I know what that's all about, thanks" is just astonishingly naive and quite offensive."

I don't know if that was meant to be in response to my earlier post, but it seems like it was.

You also said "All those people saying that they know what slavery is... No you don't. Not unless you have been enslaved. I haven't, and I'd never presume to think I knew what it was." - This is absolutely true, and why it is not right for me to watch the movie. My work in helping people who have suffered similar treatment relies upon me being able to sympathise with the people I am helping, but not to empathise with them. To be able to help them most effectively I need to be able to distance myself from their emotional reaction. If I got too caught up in the emotions of the situation it would firstly prevent me from looking as dispassionately and analytically about their situation, and secondly, would place an emotional strain on me that would most likely have an adverse effect on my own mental well being, and subsequently my ability to do my job. I don't need to feel someone's pain to believe them when they tell me they are in pain.

This is why I can't and won't watch scenes in movies where people are being tortured or abused. There is nothing naive or offensive about it.

sashh Mon 20-Jan-14 07:50:13


Don't be put off the diary of Anne Frank, there is a certain amount of fear in it but it is mainly about day to day living.

I won't be watching this film. I know slavery is horrendous and is going on today in the UK.

But when I see a film, it is like I feel things, I don't physically hurt but I feel it as if I'm remembering it done to me so it does effect me later, it will cause nightmares. I won't be watching because it isn't 2 hours for me.

FanjoForTheMammaries Mon 20-Jan-14 07:57:01

I disagree we have a duty to see it as a "tribute" to is still a commercial enterprise in the end however worthy a subject and there are other ways to educate ourselves.

DrNick Mon 20-Jan-14 07:57:47

i cant think it will radically change my opinion on slavery - so no thanks

Thistledew thanks

mrsjay Mon 20-Jan-14 09:18:37

I had problems watching the help the way these ladies treated their slaves servants was disturbing i dont think i could cope with 12yrs a slave i know it will be very true to life and hard hitting but i don't think I want to see it,

Lone voice of dissent, sorry!

DP and I were both a bit...flat after it. I don't think it's a great film. In fact I'm not even sure it's a particularly good one. I do feel perhaps that it's getting lots of votes, both from the public and awards bodies, because of the subject matter and white man's guilt.

There are two problems I think.

Firstly, the subject matter is so distressing, and the violence, that you effectively distance yourself in order to be able to watch it, which means, at least for me and DP, you're by definition not as caught up in it as other films.

Secondly, the acting (with a few notable exceptions) and direction are monotone. Here is my pained face. Here is my mad, crazy face. Here is a close up of some Spanish Moss. Oo look, here's some more moss. And didn't get the sense of 12 years - that huge length of time should have weighed heavily in the film and it didn't.

Hm. Sorry!

ProfondoRosso Mon 20-Jan-14 09:35:26

I thought it was brilliant. But then I'm a big, big fan of Steve McQueen. I felt he got closer to the personal, physical (and obviously horrific) experiences of his subjects than most other films about slavery too. Yes, it's hard to watch, but I thought he did a great job in breaking through that veneer of distance and history, which allows us to view a story from a safe, objective standpoint by focusing in on the intimate and physical, because we can all identify with pain, both emotional and physical.

That was how I felt about his film about Bobby Sands too, Hunger. Obviously a v different subject, but still this intimate focus on human experience in all its facets, not 'history.' You can tell he was a fine artist before becoming a director.

If Lupita Nyong'o doesn't get an Oscar, I'll be very disappointed. That was a brave, brave performance.

Slebmum Mon 20-Jan-14 09:42:46

I'm reading the book and was in tears on the train this morning, I don't think I can deal with the movie.

SorrelForbes Mon 20-Jan-14 09:46:42

stinkingbishop You are not alone. This is exactly how DH and I felt. Especially about the passage of time. It really didn't give me a sense of 12 years passing. I liked Brad Pitt's performance though, I thought it a neat little cameo so what do I know

DrNick Mon 20-Jan-14 09:49:27

i ahd never heard of steve mcqueen

read a really good thing in the Guardian about is this ALL we have to talk about wrt race though - when can black people stop having to obsess about their colour

was by a black guy - I will try and find

DrNick Mon 20-Jan-14 09:50:09
hackmum Mon 20-Jan-14 09:51:50

I won't be going to watch it. I don't like seeing realistic scenes of violence and torture. I also don't need to see them to know that these things happened and were horrific.

In fact, one of the things that has surprised me about this film is, well, how surprised people are to find that slavery was so brutal and that slave-owners were so cruel. I already knew these things - mostly, I suppose, through reading books and articles. I can't quite grasp why some other people seem to go through life in a haze of unknowing.

mrsjay Mon 20-Jan-14 09:54:48

most people don't hackmum we know that these people were treated worse than animals I am with you I don't want to see somebody tortured and raped most films that feature slavery show rape so it isn't a new slant on slavery iyswim iread reviews on it and decided I didn't want to see it,

Sparklysilversequins Mon 20-Jan-14 10:17:01

I am quite unpleasantly surprised by some of the comments on this thread but I am not going to address them individually because I am bored with arguing on MN!

I thought it was exceptional. I think it's required viewing perhaps with some scenes edited for those who may find it triggering. Michael Fassbender stole the show and the dynamic between him, his wife and Patsy dug much deeper than the "oh dear those poor slaves" idea that some seem to think this movie represents.

For me personally the scene where Solomon comes across the slaves in the wood was among the most shocking, it only lasted for seconds but the way it was filmed and was so short yet so shocking has really stayed with me.

I had no idea that free men were kidnapped and enslaved in that way and it made me want to find out much more. I have downloaded the ebook that also includes five other accounts if slavery so look out for that one.

I thought Brad was alright, but then I would be happy just to sit watching read the newspaper, I love him smile.

mrsjay Mon 20-Jan-14 10:18:46

why is a film required viewing though why do people feel that EVERYBODY should see it

BonesAndSkully Mon 20-Jan-14 10:33:32

if you dont know what slavery is without watching this film then perhaps you ought to broaden your reading horizons.

i dont need to see a violent film to be well aware of how horrific slavery is after some of the books i've read in my 32yrs.

Protego Mon 20-Jan-14 10:45:28

It is about the kick some people get out of power - it is always with us and this film should serve as a reminder of that - but in the USA and Nazi Germany it went to an institutionalised extreme. Just being in Bristol gives me the creeps - its wealth was built on the profits of the slave trade and I can't abide it. (Not been to Liverpool btw).

marzipanned Mon 20-Jan-14 10:45:31

stinking I am sort of with you - sounds like I enjoyed it more than you did though. I didn't get that sense of the extraordinary length of time passing either, the only moment that it actually did hit home for me was when Solomon was reunited with his family and he said the line about having had a hard time "these past few years" - thought that was brilliantly understated.

I am wondering why I felt so emotionally distant from it - there were no surprises for me either. It hasn't really weighed on my mind since seeing it, whereas after reading Beloved I could think of nothing else.

Mummytotwox Mon 20-Jan-14 10:46:54

Dh downloaded it earlier, going to watch it tonight after work

ProfondoRosso Mon 20-Jan-14 11:41:02

I don't think any film is 'required viewing,' tbh. I don't think filmmaking is a public service whose sole purpose is to educate.

I do feel this film was necessary for a few reasons:

1. We might be familiar with the story of slavery, but we should be reminded of how horrific and unjust it was. Not just because we can never get complacent and think 'things are OK, everyone's friends again.' There have been no reparations for slavery (reparations in a sense similar to the money and territory Germany paid out after WW1 as punishment). I don't know how reparations could be made - some scholars think that erasing third world debt would be a kind of compensation.

2. Slavery's not a past concern. It exists today, however illegally, and the film, I think, is a jarring reminder of how someone's life can be turned upside down, all their power and agency taken away from them due to someone else's desire for power.

3. Social necessity aside, Steve McQueen is descended from slaves. For him, this was a necessary project, to engage with his own family's past. Similarly, his film Hunger takes place during the early 80s IRA hunger strikes. Memories of news reports on this topic haunted him from his childhood. He made that film because he wanted to engage with and know more about what happened, and how it has affected him so strongly.

4. We have seen/read a lot about slavery over the years. But 'slavery' isn't just one thing. It's a complicated concept - before I head of Solomon Northup, I had no idea that a free born African American man could be kidnapped and sold into slavery, pretty much powerless to do anything about it.

I would disagree with the article DrNick links to about black filmmakers retreading old ground vis-a-vis black history. McQueen's first two films were unrelated to race, but very powerful. Lee Daniels' Precious focused on a black community which could very well have been a white community. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's films often focus on issues relevant to life in his native Chad, but conflict doesn't arise because of race or white privilege, but because of poverty, which is a universal concern.

Nobody has to see this film, but I think it's a very worthwhile film, and an innovative one in the way it uses cinematography to create an atmosphere of the smells, sounds, feelings, sensations of life for people like Solomon and Patsey. We can't experience their 'reality,' but McQueen wants to bring us as close as he can. Not to sympathise, but to empathise with these people as sentient, complicated human beings, not entries in a history book.

DrNick Mon 20-Jan-14 14:56:26

downloaded it illegally then? hmm

DrNick Mon 20-Jan-14 14:56:48

descended form slaves - necessary project


FanjoForTheMammaries Mon 20-Jan-14 15:06:34


FanjoForTheMammaries Mon 20-Jan-14 15:06:43


FanjoForTheMammaries Mon 20-Jan-14 15:07:02

Doesnt matter blush

LittleBabyPigsus Mon 20-Jan-14 15:11:07

DrNick I don't understand the hmm face. Part of filmmaking is engaging with your own past and your culture. For Steve McQueen, slavery is part of the cultural radiation that makes him up. As another example, as a queer person my creative output mostly deals with queerness in some way or another, usually the treatment of queerness in history. The idea that well, that's enough queerness now, time to move on is ludicrous. It's part of my cultural heritage, it's part of who I am.

Also, white people never stop making films about the greatness of white people but funnily enough are never told that it's getting old.

LittleBabyPigsus Mon 20-Jan-14 15:15:13

Also ProfondoRosso has nailed it. Films are a creative output like writing or art, yet nobody would criticise a book for being about a harrowing subject. Somehow because it's visual, film has a responsibility to be light and happy? Nonsense.

Starball given that there's a thread in Chat about someone's BIL being a Holocaust denier, clearly there is a need for your DD to study it three times if there are still people who deny it.

FYI I am not going to see it because I find rape scenes triggering and I could not watch the film properly because I would just be constantly terrified of watching the rape. That does not mean it is not a necessary film. Boys Don't Cry is also very much a necessary film but I could never ever watch it again.

ProfondoRosso Mon 20-Jan-14 15:50:21

It was obviously necessary for him, DrNick. He's a very socially engaged person, whether that's in his art or his films. One of his earlier video pieces, called Western Deep, is about the experience of migrant workers in the world's deepest goldmine in South Africa. He's someone who is always asking questions about how and why our societies work the way they do. If that's his particular schtick, then it's not a bad one.

LittleBabyPigsus is right - filmmakers/writers/artists have been making work that deals with what they know and what they're interested in since time immemorial. Martin Scorsese is interested in masculinity, abuse of power, changes in American society and you see that throughout his work. Nobody's turning to him and saying "Oh, not again. Could you please make a film about Spanish breakdancing culture?"

Watch the film or don't watch it. But acting like because you've watched you ave some sort of moral authority is ridiculous. And telling people who work with actual victims that they still don't get it because they haven't seen the same brad Pitt film like you have... Some people need to see these kinds of films, they tend to be less naturally empathetic which is why they aren't overly upset watching them in the first place. Slavery fucking horrible yes we all know that. Why not make a truly educational film, one that explains about the fact that we have more slaves today than ever in history before

ProfondoRosso Mon 20-Jan-14 16:01:15

Very fair points, Please. Anyone who claimed moral supremacy over anyone else because they chose to watch 12 Years a Slave would be an idiot. Anyone who claimed to know more about slavery than someone who works with people who have been subjected to it, again because they've seen 12 Years a Slave would be an idiot.

I wouldn't say anyone must see any film. I told my DM the other day to go and see The Wolf of Wall Street instead because I knew 12 Years... would upset her.

Why not make a truly educational film, one that explains about the fact that we have more slaves today than ever in history before

This is a really interesting point. There are films which have addressed contemporary human trafficking at least - Biutiful springs to mind. In an ideal world, filmmakers could make educational, hard-hitting films about modern day slavery and they would get wide distribution, publicity and audiences. But it's a lot easier to sell a Brad Pitt-backed film, with studio money behind it. McQueen's first film was made in the UK for buttons. Quite a few people saw it, but nowhere near the amount that have seen 12 Years. Many great and socially important films go under the radar because they're not 'bankable.' In a way, you could at least say it's a positive thing that McQueen has used the financial backing and support he got to tell a story like this, which reflects a lot of stuff that's still going on in the world today.

Retropear Mon 20-Jan-14 16:01:30

I won't be going.

Violence and torture are not something we like to watch,ever.

I read a lot and I'm well educated,I don't see how me being disturbed by watching events I already know have happened will help world peace.

I won't be watching The Train Man either if that makes posters happier.

Retropear Mon 20-Jan-14 16:02:59

I think this strange worthy competition is a MN thing tbf,never see it in RL.

LittleBabyPigsus Mon 20-Jan-14 16:11:59

I think people are underestimating the impact a film can have on a person to be inspired. Not saying necessarily that this is the case here, but I think it underestimates the level to which a film is a work of art like a book or a painting. Even TV shows get credited for changing how people look at the world. But for some reason, not films? Why?

Retropear Mon 20-Jan-14 16:16:29

I'm anti slavery already,I don't need to be inspired.I did history A level and read a lot.If another less graphic film on the subject came up I'd watch it.

I know my own self and I wouldn't be inspired(even if I needed to be) by the type of things described on a giant screen I couldn't escape from but disturbed.

littlebabypigs I think it's just that for any normal person slavery as already classed as "the worst thing ever". And for any total racist bastard.. it really won't make any effect in them at all.

You mentioned the Holocaust denier from another thread earlier. I am sure he has seen Schlindler's List and every other film and probably studied it a helluva lot in school and seen documentaries. Hasn't changed the fact that racist will re-write history to fit their own beliefs. (and don't get me wrong I am not saying we shouldn't study all of the above, constantly as part of our history.. just making the point that films don't necessarily change opions)

walterwhiteswife Mon 20-Jan-14 16:22:51

the book is 49p on kindle at amazon now

^ In a way, you could at least say it's a positive thing that McQueen has used the financial backing and support he got to tell a story like this, which reflects a lot of stuff that's still going on in the world today.^

That's true, I guess I worry people go see these films and think..oh history was bad..we're so much more evolved today with no awareness that it's still going on. sad

Bakingnovice Mon 20-Jan-14 16:25:14

Walter do you have a link? It's showing as £2.50 when I checked

Nancy66 Mon 20-Jan-14 16:26:34

you know the rape, torture, violence etc is acted right? Not real....

MrsDavidBowie Mon 20-Jan-14 16:26:52

I have just come back to this, and hope people didn't think my "go and see this film" was a tyrannical call to everyone to go and see it and claim moral superiority [confused}

I merely wanted to highlight what an impressive film I thought it was.

I am off to see The Railway Man this week...have read the book, and am interested to compare to the film.

Bakingnovice Mon 20-Jan-14 16:28:51

Oh just found it. Thanks for letting us know Walter.

ProfondoRosso Mon 20-Jan-14 16:30:07

I don't think anyone is saying you have to go and see any film, Retropear. I don't think I've ever been to see a film because I felt I 'should.'

This is a poor comparison, but I will not watch the Roy and Hayley storyline on Coronation St right now because I find it too upsetting. It's a worthy subject, the actors are great and it's raising some important points about palliative care. But that's not going to make me watch it, because I know it'll upset me. If someone accused me of not caring about people suffering terminal illness as a result, I'd think they were a fool.

I do think it's important to recognise, however, that people drawing inspiration from a film like 12 Years isn't 'worthy competition.' That's just how they feel about it. Using language like that demeans those people who took something from the film and felt moved by it.

I don't think MrsDavidBowie intended, with her thread title, to say "you MUST go see 12 Years a Slave. If you don't, you're an idiotic white supremacist who doesn't care about history or inequality." It seems to me she was saying "go see it" because she was so impressed by it. Same way I'd say "go see Napoleon Dynamite. I thought it was brilliant."

I'm writing my PhD on a French filmmaker who mostly tackles colonialism in Africa and its legacy. I was interested in the subject, but I love this filmmaker because she tackles the topic in a really thought provoking, visually amazing way. I don't feel there's anything 'worthy' about my choice. I wouldn't judge anyone for not wanting to see any of her films.

you know the rape, torture, violence etc is acted right? Not real....

See what I mean about some people being naturally empathetic? and some not hmm

LittleBabyPigsus Mon 20-Jan-14 16:31:04

My point wasn't that every person who sees it will be inspired, I actually specifically said that this wasn't the case - reading comprehension please hmm

My point was that films CAN inspire but are underestimated in this area. What if someone sees it and then is inspired to work in anti human trafficking or even just to find out more about the subject? That's not an uncommon reaction to a significant film. Isn't it then worth it? If just one person takes something away from it that can make a difference to others, then it is worth it. And I speak as someone who won't be seeing it for the reasons I already mentioned.

ProfondoRosso Mon 20-Jan-14 16:31:04

Cross posts with MrsBowie smile

V interesting debate here.

I agree that films like any other expressive art do not need to be 'nice' to be 'art' or have a v good justification behind them.
And I would never be presumptuous enough to suggest that McQueen should not have made this film because the subject of slavery has been dealt with before - one could argue much more justifiably that we don't need another take on, say, the Titanic disaster IMO.

But I maintain my right to chose what I wish to see - of course the rape etc is not real on screen, but the fact is that it did/does actually happen.
So, no, it's not how I want to spend free time and money and I don't think that that makes me or anybody else a lesser person. That seems to me a rather ill thought through suggestion.

LittleBabyPigsus Mon 20-Jan-14 16:33:09

Profondo your PhD sounds amazing. And now I want to see Battle Of Algiers again!

<former Film Studies A Level student>

LittleBabyPigsus Mon 20-Jan-14 16:34:18

Pacific I absolutely don't think that not seeing the film makes anyone a lesser person, I won't be seeing it myself. I cannot watch rape scenes no matter how good the film.

Nancy66 Mon 20-Jan-14 16:34:56

The Railway Man is awful. Nicole Kidman has had too much facial surgery to be able to act any more

ProfondoRosso Mon 20-Jan-14 16:35:59

It's killing me right now, LittleBabyPigsus wink but I'm nearly finished!

Battle of Algiers is great. The director I'm studying is called Claire Denis and I'd really recommend her films. I do think I get a lot from them because I had no idea about the legacy that colonialism left behind in Africa, after the colonialists were gone. But it's also true that her work is, to me, being a big film fan, really beautiful and admirable as art.

*my comments weren't directed at you MrsDavidBOwie

DuskAndShiver Mon 20-Jan-14 16:43:00

I don't agree with that article either. I think it confuses activism with film making - sure, let's be activist about things that are happening now. But you can and shoujld make films about any part of our past.

Anyway, it's not really over in that the slave-running nations are permanently richer than those from which the people who were enslaved were stolen.

However: I couldn't watch it, I turned it off at the beginning of what I thought was a rape scene. I know it's a serious film and everything but I didn't know what I was going to see and I think some people enjoy filming rape a bit too much. I just didn't want to sit in my hotel room being all white and privileged watching a black woman get raped, as entertainment. Didn't want to see it, don't want to interact with the issues in that commercialised way. Made me feel sick and I turned it off.

MrsDavidBowie Mon 20-Jan-14 16:43:11

Nancy66...oh, was it that bad???
I don't like her at all.

Thank you please I was feeling a bit paranoid! Thank God I didn't post in AIBU!

Nancy66 Mon 20-Jan-14 16:48:15

MrsDavid. yes thought it was really poor. Very disjointed. Nicole kidman totally wrong and Colin Firth wasn't quite right either.

A definite wait for DVD job

KatnipEvergreen Mon 20-Jan-14 16:49:47

Don't think I'll bother. Doesn't sound like my cup of tea at all.

LittleBabyPigsus Mon 20-Jan-14 16:50:17

I don't see why activism and films can't go together - lots of activism in music, why should films be different?

KatnipEvergreen Mon 20-Jan-14 16:56:37

I agree, I don't see why activism and films don't go together, but in the cinema I tend to prefer pure entertainment and nothing too heavy. It's too intense a medium for intense films for me, all that being in the dark, massive screen, massive sound, with strangers. If it's going to be a challenging film I'd rather have the remote control/going out of the room/making a cup of tea option if it's too much.

AngelaDaviesHair Mon 20-Jan-14 17:14:53

I can see that in many ways people find a hard-hitting historical film tackling things like racism, slavery etc a much easier watch than a contemporary one, and if we end up telling ourselves we are facing those issues when really we only deal with them as in the past, then that's a problem. But it would be a problem that lay with the audience, not the film-maker necessarily.

I think it probably is why 12 Years a Slave will find a bigger audience than Fruitvale Station (contemporary, based on real-life story of young black man shot by Transit Police in US). And why a slavery film set in C19 is a much easier project to fund and make than one that confronts slavery today, in brothels up and down the land, or in Dubai and Qatar.

I just didn't want to sit in my hotel room being all white and privileged watching a black woman get raped, as entertainment.

Yes. I have a problem with that too.

And I agree, there is are contemporary issues to be tackled that could be just as harrowing and would not allow us the 'ah, well, all that happened a looooong time ago' consolation.

Fwiw, I think statements about slavery or fascism or human trafficking can be made v powerfully without protracted and hyper-realistic depiction of violence.

I was looking forward to seeing it as I've hear how good it is, but have been slightly put off by what PP have said here - I wish someone would make films with good script and characterisation, and story to tell, but without the (often gratuitous) violence. Sounds like it should be an 18 to me as well - not really suitable for a 15 year old?

LittleBabyPigsus Mon 20-Jan-14 17:33:23

FWIW I am absolutely OK with not wanting to see really heavy films all the time (one of my favourite films is The Wedding Singer which is hardly hard-hitting). Wanting to avoid lots of violence is also OK. I was just addressing the idea that films can't be hard-hitting/inspiring/political and also good films, or that films are just for entertainment.

The points about historical slavery being easier for audiences to handle than modern slavery, and white people watching black people suffering as entertainment, are really good points. I won't be able to watch 12 Years... so not sure I can answer them properly, but I do think it's a credit to MN that we can discuss things like this.

LittleBabyPigsus Mon 20-Jan-14 17:35:47

Juggling film classifications are ridiculous. Cunnilingus is an automatic 18 (unless Ryan Gosling is on hand to fight for a lower rating) but someone getting their head kicked in is fine for a 15 hmm

This Film Is Not Yet Rated is a brilliant documentary on the subject.

walterwhiteswife Mon 20-Jan-14 19:10:47

hey baking no im on phone so cant linksad

walterwhiteswife Mon 20-Jan-14 19:12:09

type 12 years a slave on all categories and its the second one down x

DH and I always say there should be more sex (nice sex) and less violence in British and American movies - one thing we agree on! If there is any sex it seems to almost have to justify itself by being accompanied by violence. A strange world we live in confused

BriarRainbowshimmer Mon 20-Jan-14 20:25:46

I don't understand the people who don't understand us who can't stand watching things like rape and the beating of black slaves in movies.
There are all sorts of reasons: Strong empathy; the image will stay with you and make you upset, you know of other's who have been victims of sexual violence and racist attacks, you are a survivor and don't want to get a PSTD attack, and so on.

I can't stand scenes with male violence against women and I don't understand why actually showing the rape is neccessary. Apart from being upsetting and triggering for many, I'm also afraid certain types will be watching and get a kick out of it.

In Deepa Mehta's "Water", a young child is raped by an adult man. We see her before, entering his room; and being found afterwards, clearly traumatized. It's heartbreaking. No violence was shown but it really stayed with me.

SinisterSal Mon 20-Jan-14 20:30:08

I agree Briar, I don't think it serves much purpose tbh. Most people are opposed to rape and violence already, so what has changed by watching it? Who benefits? It seems rather self serving and - imo- tends to desensitise.

KatnipEvergreen Tue 21-Jan-14 09:59:01

Yes, I tend to avoid rape scenes and things that play on women's fear, women as a victim and they are too damned ubiquitous. Men being portrayed as scared out of their wits is much more novel.

KatnipEvergreen Tue 21-Jan-14 10:02:50

I don't even like graphic sex on screen. Yeah, I know what sex looks like, thanks. There are a million and one ways to demonstrate a couple had sex without showing it. Also violence. Much better when they intimate it than show it. In fact sometimes more hard hitting.

DuskAndShiver Tue 21-Jan-14 11:25:39

I think films can be activist, but they don't have to be. It doesn't remotely bother me that a person made a film about a time a while ago when things happened that were later abolished and formally condemned. Especially a black person, in this case. Partly because it still informs who we all are and how we live; but also because, why not? You can play Beethoven sonatas and nobody accuses you of not changing the world.

However, thinking it over, there is more in that article than I initially admitted to, and I think it is to do with the audience, not the making of the film. Or maybe just white audiences. I think everyone is enjoying their righteous horror and devastation a bit too much. I think audiences use the historicism of it all as a comfortable othering device of these outrages. It's pure good luck that we were born in a time when opposing slavery didn't mark you out as a dangerous weirdo (as well as severely limiting your material comfort and success), and how many of us would have? Well how many of us make the efforts that we should not to materially benefit from workers in quasi-enslaved conditions in conveniently far away places today? Not very many. Oh noes don't take away my argos appliances and my ipod and my cheap high street clothes. You aren't actually physically beating the person of colour working 18 hour days in your own house, but still, they do the work and you get the trendy jacket.

It's hard to avoid because so few shops have decent ethical standards, and modern life demands that we have a certain number of outfits to work, etc. Yup I get why we all do it. But it doesn't make it ok.

And also - as I said above - don't show rape on TV, or in films. Just stop it. Stop using rape as a thing, as unit of objectified entertainment. You might be disapproving of it but just disapprove of it without showing it, please. I can't unpick why this is I just express it any more clearly. I just believe this is wrong.

Nancy66 Tue 21-Jan-14 16:57:30

Are there people on this thread who saw The Accused? Don't you agree that the screening of the rape sequence was essential to the telling of the story and made the film all the more powerful because of it?

I think the rape scene in The Accused is borderline exploitative. I remember reading a good article about it where a man said he was aroused watching it and was criticising the film maker for making it too provocative.

It was a long time ago I read that though (like 20 years ) so it may have been written by a woman grin

Nancy66 Tue 21-Jan-14 17:13:48

you see I know a couple of men who saw the film when they were young guys and were deeply affected by it.

I've seen 12 Years now and didn't find the violence gratuitous in fact such was the build up that I didn't even find it as bad as I was anticipating. It's there and it's harrowing but I think it's necessary.

the rape scene of Patsy in 12 Years is done so that you only see the faces of the actors.

ProfondoRosso Tue 21-Jan-14 17:15:27

It's a difficult thing to get 'right,' if that's even possible.

While a lot of posters on this thread would argue that, by showing rape, it means it's commercialised or used as 'entertainment,' many others would say that it's immoral to sanitise or censor depictions of rape because they are every bit as ugly and horrific, and often much worse, than they appear on screen. It really depends how it's done, I guess.

I admit I haven't seen The Accused, but I wouldn't say the rape scene in 12 Years... is shot in any way that could be arousing, sensationalist or anything but utterly miserable.

betterwhenthesunshines Tue 21-Jan-14 18:21:03

Not about the film, but about the subject of slavery: I recommend Andrea Levy's book The Long Song. She said she was drawn to writing about slavery as it was such an important part of her history but tried to avoid the whole subject as she didn't want years of research and immersing herself into such harrowing writing. But then she couldn't ignore it any longer. It takes you through levels of understanding of all the characters, including the views of the plantation owners. A great book - thought provoking and reflective and very funny in parts.

LittleBabyPigsus Wed 22-Jan-14 00:22:02

Re rape scenes - I think it depends on the use of the male gaze. I can't watch a rape scene regardless of the gaze but there are films that get it 'right' such as Boys Don't Cry - it's not massively explicit either, but it's needed to show the level of transphobia that Brandon Teena suffered. It's not used to get enjoyment out of suffering, but to show suffering so that the audience is compassionate and suffers with Brandon if that makes sense.

expatinscotland Wed 22-Jan-14 00:23:34

No, thanks. My life is enough of a misery without seeing films like this.

chibi Wed 22-Jan-14 18:26:54

well i saw it last night. it is violent, but not lurid or exploitative. much of the violence occurs to the side of the camera's field of view, quite matter of factly

it was an excellent film and i have thought about it all day.

chibi, interesting about the 'matter of fact' gaze of the camera.

That might just sway me...

expatinscotland Wed 22-Jan-14 19:46:33

No chance with me.

chibi Wed 22-Jan-14 20:29:41

it is a film where suffering is not extraordinary but part of the fabric of daily life, so people have conversations in the main field of of view while off camera a mother screams her grief because she has been sold away from her small children, and the screaming and the conversations happen at the same time. this is the real violence, people going on as though nothing much is happening.

the same woman is later told by a slave mistress that she'll soon forget her children

i don't know. i do think you have to be careful with what you watch, you can't unsee it. this is why i avoid things like saw or the exorcist. this is not like those in the slightest though.

amazing film.

MrsDavidBowie Wed 22-Jan-14 20:42:12

Think you put it very well chibi.

Jaisalmer Sat 25-Jan-14 01:09:32

Just back from seeing it and thought it was extraordinary.

I was completely there with the cameraman, the cinematography was simply breathtaking.

I was glad to be in a cinema otherwise I would have been able to stop crying. I found it upsetting that people got up and left quite quickly at the end moaning about their bloody backs hurting from sitting too long hmm. The lives those people had, I sometimes wonder whether or not most of us ever 'get' what other people have to endure sad.

Fassbender superb as were the main two leads male and female.

What struck me all the way through was how miserable just about everyone was - the whites utterly so as well, although of course for completely opposite reasons.

Funnily enough the song 'Happy' was playing outside the cinema in a bowling alley thing and it did bring a smile to my face to think how far black people have come since this terrible time.

God humans are such utterly cruel bastards sad.

Jaisalmer Sat 25-Jan-14 01:10:38

Sorry I wouldn't have been able to stop crying.

bordellosboheme Sat 25-Jan-14 01:33:15

It sounds awful tbh

CarlaVeloso Sat 25-Jan-14 01:57:09

I will not watch rape scenes in films. I find violence very hard to stomach too. Sexual violence unbearable, I just cannot watch.

12 Years sounds awful. Why submit to that for your entertainment?

Jaisalmer Sat 25-Jan-14 10:26:58

It's not 'entertaining' fgs hmm. You do realise that it actually happened don't you CarlaVeloso?

The rape scenes aren't anything like as explicit as you're imagining.

bordello yup I think you can safely say that slavery was pretty awful....

ProfondoRosso Sat 25-Jan-14 10:36:28

Agree with Jaisalmer. Why the hell would you expect a film like this to be entertaining? It's not. It's shocking, engaging, sobering. If that's not what you want, then don't go and see it. But I'm getting mighty fed up of people on this thread (who haven't watched it) insinuating that anyone who sees a point in going to see a film like this must be a voyeur or perverted in some way.

Watch it, don't watch it, whatever. But don't express disgust with a film that was conceived as a serious, conscientious engagement with the horror of slavery by its director (who is descended from West Indian slaves) without seeing it. Nobody says you have to see it.

SinisterSal Sat 25-Jan-14 10:53:55

I don't think that's entirely fair, Profundo. Film is part of the entertainment industry, though often it transcends that, as it does here. But part of filmmaking is to engage, entertain, otherwise McQueen would have written a dry academic paper about all the horrors if he just wanted to transmit the facts rather than reach and sway a large audience.
(And filmmmaking is a commercial enterprise too, which doesn't seem to negate his message at all, but it's in that context.)

I'm one who wouldn't be able to watch the graphic violence etc. Lucky white 21st Century me, eh? But it doesn't mean that ones who don't/can't watch it don't care either.

Horribly incongrous to hear of people complaining of their sore bums after watching it. Maybe it's a bit of dark humour? Or maybe it's just a lack of empathy that allows someone to watch all that horror and just dismiss it.

Chibi you explained it very well.

ProfondoRosso Sat 25-Jan-14 11:46:43

I agree re: film being for engagement, Sinister, but not always entertainment. I'm writing up my PhD on films which deal with the aftermath of colonialism in Africa. None of the films I study are devised to entertain. To engage and provoke contemplation, yes.

There is a certain amount of content in a film about colonialism or slavery that may be expressed in a dry or academic manner, but they are made by human beings who tell stories, who have personal, emotional responses to these real events so that will come through. Steve McQueen isn't from an entertainment background, as such, he started his career as a video artist making challenging pieces, often about inequality and conflict. He was the UK's official war artist a few years back. If he had delivered a safe, palatable impression of the suffering we all knew that people were going through in Iraq and Afghanistan, on all sides, he would have been castigated. He didn't.

You could say visual art is entertainment in that it can give pleasure, amuse, delight. But often it doesn't - it challenges, haunts, provokes discomfort. Film is the same. It wouldn't be an internationally studied academic discipline in if wasn't.

SinisterSal Sat 25-Jan-14 12:04:08

I guess I mean more in the general imagination, most people heading to the Multiplex on a Friday night are going for entertainment, the gen-release film that is thought provoking is the exception rather than the rule. I take your point though.

Reincarnatedpig Sat 25-Jan-14 12:18:44

I really don't want to see it. One of my ancestors was a slave trader and his son in law was a plantation owner in Barbados. I feel sick and ashamed and it was comparatively recently.

I think film is not different from any other kind of story-telling although the effects of visual arts can be so much more visceral.

The more I hear about 12 years... the more I come round that it is a good film about a harrowing and important subject which sadly is still relevant today - so, try as I might, I cannot really object to it wink.

Whether I will go and see it, I still don't know...

SinisterSal Sat 25-Jan-14 15:09:51

I am definitely glad it's been made, it's hugely worthwhile and if people can apply it to present day concerns, such as present day slavery & racism, it will certainly have made a great difference in the world. But I won't watch it myself.

mrst2 Sun 26-Jan-14 17:26:50

Went to see the movie last night with my husband. It was not what I expected, it is brutal. I spent the entire film with tears streaming down my face and trying to hide my eyes behind a scarf. One woman walked out of the cinema and a few others were sobbing in the row behind. At the end of the movie the whole auditorium was silent. I was devastated coming out and terribly upset. I would offer caution, do not go and see this film if you are feeling a bit low or vulnerable or if you are of a sensitive disposition. The acting is outstanding, but thank goodness Brad Pitt turned up, some light relief and a glimmer of hope! I suppose it's so important that films like this are made but it is so painful to watch, it's not light entertainment.

AnythingNotEverything Sun 26-Jan-14 17:38:00

I saw the film last week. It's a wonderful film about people and the choices they make.

I didn't find the violence all that bad, and out of context the rape scene could be taken for a sex scene - it was neither graphic nor violent rape.

It's not in any way a preachy film teaching you about slavery (although there are thins you see which you may not have thought of as part of slavery, which remind you of the indignity and inhumanity of it).

I implore you to see it. I cried. I averted my eyes during one early scene. I am telling anyone who'll listen that it's a brilliant film about people.
I found this to be a very interesting article/review:

Daykin Sun 26-Jan-14 18:11:34

I saw it a couple of days ago and I didn't like it. I couldn't connect with any of the characters much because they were all so thinly written. Mr Epps was probably the strongest and even he was a bit pantomime villain at times. I felt disconnected from what was happening on screen because the characterisation was too simplistic. Horrible and distressing story lines not compensate for lack of writing. There was interesting stories to be told, which weren't told (Patsey, the woman on the boat whose family was split, Mrs Epps, the non speaking extra slaves).

There was a lot of what slavery was, in the Deep South, at that point in history, and not enough of either the actual story that was supposed to be told or any of the surrounding stories.
I think it could have been an excellent TV series but beyond the scope of a film. Part of the problem, I imagine, is that part of his coping mechanism was to shut down, which doesn't make for good storytelling.

I think it is 'important' and 'powerful' in the sense of it shows, graphically, what slavery is and reminds us that we are standing on broken backs, but I don't think it was a well written film that told a story well and Brad Pitt was almost as shit as he was in Inglorious Bastards

maddy68 Sun 26-Jan-14 18:20:44

I actually thought it could have been better. Too many lingering facial shots for my liking. And I thought the ending could have been so much better. That said it was worth a watch but seen better

mrst2 Sun 26-Jan-14 18:24:31

What do you mean "its a wonderful film about the people and the choices they make". Surely the whole point of the film is that they didn't have any choices they were kidnapped into slavery. I agree the rape scene wasn't particularly violent but it was distressing all the same because of her despair. Personally I felt the violence was appalling but that's just my view.

ProfondoRosso Sun 26-Jan-14 18:26:30

Fair points, Daykin - I think the screenwriter wanted to be as true to Northup's memoir as possible, though. Everything is from his perspective and he couldn't claim to speak for Patsey or anyone else he encountered. But I'd say you're right to observe that stories told from one perspective don't often allow for deep development of other characters.

I think it would have been verging on immoral for there to have been any kind of omniscient narrator or viewpoint in this film, considering how it could never have been made without the bravery of Northup, who put himself at great risk by writing his book.

I didn't enjoy the film very much at all, I am afraid. I didn't find the acting stand, and the only new element to the story for me was the press ganging.

I "enjoyed" it more towards the end when it moved on, but large sections in the middle were overlong, I felt.

the Railway Man, again not an enjoyable film, was superb. A time I know next to nothing about, brilliantly portrayed, shockingly recent and riveting from start to finish for me.

Daykin Sun 26-Jan-14 18:30:08

I liked the shot on the paddle steamer when the camera went right through the wheel <grasps straws>

I would agree it's not about choices. Every single person acts exactly as you would expect them to act. Fate assigned them various roles - and they acted them out.

Oh, and in the end scene he barely acknowledged his son, his sonin law got more!

ProfondoRosso Sun 26-Jan-14 18:38:28

I think it's very important not to read Steve McQueen as a 'Hollywood' filmmaker who makes 'entertaining' films. He's a socially conscious filmmaker who has a fine art background, not a Hollywood one.

An artist who makes work from a compulsion to interrogate and understand the world he lives in, however painfully, won't give up his principles to make a harrowing story more palatable or safe for a wide audience. And I don't think he should.

ProfondoRosso Sun 26-Jan-14 18:39:28

Great interview with McQueen here

Daykin Sun 26-Jan-14 18:47:07

I think having decided to go with the book, he did need to stick to it but I think he left himself with a massive problem in, horrific as it is, from the day he arrived at the first plantation to the day he was found by his pal, he was just stuck in a relentless cycle of work/get whipped/sleep/work - in relative silence. Then at the end it just popped up about him trying to get justice against the kidnappers and slave pen owners and not being able to because of not being able to give evidence against a white man, and about his abolition work and running underground escape routes but all of that was left out in preference to a sort of Slavery 101 lesson teaching us what slavery is but never advancing to what it means or what it does or it's legacy. There was more to the story than was told. Why was he such a hot shot in the beginning? Why was the shopkeeper fawning on him? Why did that slack-jawed kid run in the shop to gawp at him?
He was obviously an incredible man but that is hard to portray if you concentrate solely on he period in his life when he tried to keep his head down.

AnythingNotEverything Sun 26-Jan-14 20:11:45

There was the choice to take on the Platt name, the choice not to fight on the ship, the choice to survive and bide his time, the choice Benedict Cumberbatch's character made to save him and send him to Epps, Solomon's choice not to agree to Patsey's request, Patsey's choice to make that request, the whole Epps/Epps' wife/Patsey's scenario ...

I thought it was full of choices. Not free choices, but choices.

I also enjoyed the long lingering shots. I felt they gave the viewer space to process the story.

Could've done without Brad Pitt though.

ProfondoRosso Sun 26-Jan-14 21:56:28

I agree with you re: the lingering shots, Anything. I think it emphasised just how much of what was happening can't be quantified in words.

Jaisalmer Sun 26-Jan-14 23:03:43

Person who didn't like the lingering shots did, I think imho, spectacularly miss the point.

There is an interview somewhere out there about why they did this and how effective it can be. There is one particular scene, which I won't describe but I'm sure most people will recall (after the fight with that horrible little foreman at Ford's plantation), which seems to go on forever with other people in the background and the breeze going through the trees with the house just behind. It was incredibly moving and gave you a real sense of what he had to endure that day.

In this article McQueen says that all too often films just flip from scene to scene far too quickly as they fear the audience will bore too quickly. They wanted to capture those moments and really immerse you in them - I felt that he succeeded in that and really added to the depth of the film.

I think there was an undercurrent always of him having to suppress his anger and desperation.

dimdommilpot Sun 26-Jan-14 23:10:25

I think this film will make me cry. I had to look away watching the trailer.

mrst2 Mon 27-Jan-14 00:52:20

Well in so far as Brad is concerned I thought he was ok and I was grateful for him popping up, it was the only bit of hope in the whole film apart from the part when he was rescued. I don't think I could have taken much more despair. After so much painful viewing I thought the end was disappointing, it just brought more tears. The director should have been kinder to us at the end, he had made his point.

MrsDavidBowie Mon 27-Jan-14 08:12:23

On a different note, I went to see The Wolf of Wall Street yesterday,which was half an hour too long but very entertaining.

For the Next couple of weeks I have Inside Llewyn Davies, Dallas Buyers Club, and two new Tilda Swintons lined up.

thegreylady Mon 27-Jan-14 08:22:44

When I was a child I read Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe and found that revelatory and horrifying. I don't think I could bear 12 Years A Slave.

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