Troy reviews

The 2013 American South Drama Tragedy R

12 Years A Slave

Title Analysis Bondage
By Steve McQueen, Hans Zimmer, Brad Pitt

brain ratingGreat


"Well-made film. Great acting. Nice (but monotonous) music. One could quibble with the lack of an intact causal chain, a few POV shifts, and a few unnecessary timeline-flashbacks, but the movie is still powerful, though it certainly is not indicative of the average slave situation. It's about an extraordinary case of a freeman from New York being kidnapped and sold as a slave in the American South. This situation adds a meaningful volume to the cinematic literature of American slavery.
The downside of the movie is that it's all one long nightmare, which effectively tells the story, but is unrealistically emotionally monochromatic, mostly serving up more violent and sadistic versions of abuse-scenes we've seen before in movies like Amistad, Mississippi Burning, Roots, Django Unchained, Glory, etc. The movie stubbornly reinforces the inaccurate stereotype that whites in the north loved African-Americans, while whites in the south were inbred, slave-raping, slave-torturing, dictatorial, bible-abusing idiots. In fact, the North invaded the south to control its agricultural super-wealth. And many African Americans in the south lived happy, relatively free lives. Mere legal ownership of another man, however wrong, does not automatically cause the "owner" to abuse the "slave." Many slave-masters have co-existed and do co-exist with slaves. Slave-masters often took better care of their slaves than modern employers treat their employees. De-facto oppression of Africans continues to this very day, not only in the northern & southern United States, but all over the world, without or without slavery. Our "modern", smugly superior, abolitionist mindset has not made us more humane to our fellow man."
heart ratingGood


"A moving story, convincingly acted. Unfortunately, the violence, profanity, and sex are so graphic and shocking, and the tone so relentlessly morose, that the movie is tough for even grownups to watch. And it's lamentably unwatchable for children, who would be the viewers most likely to find revelatory information in this sledgehammer-smacking, but largely unsurprising, civil-war-era American slave tale."


out of 10

12 Years A Slave on Wikipedia