12 Years a Slave (McQueen, 2013)

12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  –Galatians 6:9

I think it’s really hard to make a movie centered around slavery that doesn’t feel like it should only be shown in history classes. But McQueen does as best he can and what results of a mostly successful character study that, to me at least, is more interesting as an illustration of perseverance and patience than slavery. To watch a man, who finds himself in a situation where a natural reaction would be an (understandable) impulsive move, bide his time waiting to make the smartest move is an odd mix of frustrating and respectable. Though McQueen struggles with pacing and making this actually feel like 12 years has passed, the meticulousness of our protagonist is very well presented. And despite all of this pushing runtime out a bit, the film includes some beautifully peaceful transition scenes despite so much of what occurs throughout being violent and repulsive. It’s a testament to McQueen’s filmmaking abilities; he lets small moments live when others would move on to the next ‘point’. It’s a very well done historical drama.  8/10

12 years a slave


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