The LAMB Devours The Oscars: 12 Years A Slave

by Lucien · February 15, 2014 · LAMB Devours the Oscars · 1 Comment

Editor’s note: This is part of a 37-part series dissecting the 86th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Nearly every day leading up to the Oscars, at least one new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category  of the Oscars. Also, every Best Picture and Best Director nominee gets its own post. To read the other posts regarding this event, please click here. Thank you, and enjoy!





So this is a little cheat on my part because I have already written about this film on my blog. But if you will indulge a bit more, allow me let me delve a little deeper into my appreciation of the film and why I feel it deserves to take home the big prize on March 2nd. 

Directed by Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) with an adapted screenplay by John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave takes the audience = out of the first person narrative of the source material, while still looking through the lens of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor, in an assured, complex performance). We travel from his halcyon days as a free man of color in upstate New York, to his kidnapping set against the backdrop of our nation’s capital and his arduous journey to the South where he is forced to assume a new identity as a runaway slave. 

After a brief stay at the plantation of a relatively benevolent slave master (Benedict Cumberbatch), Northup’s insolence leads him to Louisiana’s notorious Epps plantation. Epps (Michael Fassbender) is a ruthless, cruel man whose relishes in humiliating and abusing his ‘property’ at any moment. While Northup endures a great deal of torture at his hands, the slave Patsy (a transcendent performance by Lupita Nyong’o) suffers the greatest at his hands and faces the additional resentment (and envy) of Epps’ wife (Sarah Paulson).

While the book recalls so many rich details about the people, places and events nightmarish ordeal, the film so effectively visually illustrates these moments and brings them to life with heartbreaking and gut-wrenching aplomb. 

I really do not know what more I can say that has not already been said about 12 Years a Slave. As a piece of pure cinema it is beautifully shot, magnificently acted and that tells a story that moves you. 

McQueen clearly outdoes himself in transporting us to this world and making us feel as if we are in the here and now with its inhabitants. Which, when you think about, makes sense. History is alive and vibrant, for we are the living embodiment of what has come before us.

It is amazing to think that this is only McQueen’s third feature-length film. What he and his cast and crew have been able to produce is a film experience that will last with you for long after you leave your movie theater. It reverberates and captures you in a way few pieces of cinema can or will. 

For that reason, I think it should be rewarded and honored as an essential achievement of filmmaking.


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