Director Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) has painted a grim picture to convey the images of the past for the contemporary audiences, and perhaps, intentionally for the world in its entirety so they can comprehend the truth that is dark, interesting and very vicious; in the meantime in its core in the past, what souls went through, the film is presented in a way and written in such manner for the modern societies to feel and comprehend the essentiality of innocence and how it shrivels. – 12 Years A Slave is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, when in the antebellum United States, Solomon, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.
McQueen’s passion for cinema, especially for film-making is true, and quite close to the man’s mighty heart. He has pushed his actors over the edge, breaking the boundaries of what an actor knows about acting. Puzzled the minds remain, how McQueen has really pushed his actors to that arduous edge, for looking at the images, it is hard for one take to them out of the mind. The performances of the actors paint a feeling in the hearts of the viewers, as if the picture is a personal documentary shot by McQueen. Northup, limned by the mighty Chiwetel Ejiofor, finds himself in chains, in a dark room; then his existence in such situation begins to encounter slavers. Northup’s journey, an adventure, tells what horror really means. Perhaps, the most devastating of them all, devil is what I am talking about, is man himself. Devil and its existence, is a living feeling, breathing air and thoughts that are dark in the minds that are blind. It is hard to view at times the image of man as devil in McQueen’s film. Though, unfortunately, devil in man has lived, therefore result of such actions has caused tragedies; innocence like a burning letter dissolves as smoke in the atmosphere.
McQueen’s work is captured as if it’s a painting, which consists of some long shots that at times Sean Bobbitt’s camera rests on the actors for long, so the viewer has enough time to observe the nature of the situation that the actor is in. Scenes are often calm, filled with utter silence. There are scenes in McQueen’s film that are presented with Hans Zimmer’s haunting score, delivering into the mind, a sense of horror. And, at times, artistically, Zimmer’s score is injected as if a tear drop is slowly flowing from the watery eyes of the man. – 12 Years A Slave, is audacious in its subject. Authentic in its existence as a motion picture; a painting that is tragic and when spoken is like poetry. McQueen’s film sits beside films like Schindler’s List; Shawshank Redemption and The Passion of the Christ.
One of the most important questions, as the film was reaching its poetic and tear-jerking conclusion, surfaced in the mind: Is it shameful that a British film-maker steps up to capture in detail the most horrifying part of the history of America? – Perhaps, not. Mr. McQueen is no different than any American. You know why? – We are all humans. McQueen claims that he sensed the sense of humanity and most importantly love when he was directing the film. – 12 Years A Slave, in its subtext conveys a universal message. Kindness among evil, no matter what, will always remain alive. That may sound too banal, and some may think I am being corny, but what Solomon Northup went through and how he handled himself and fought back the devil, his mighty broken heart, continued to beat against all odds. He was the man standing with a sword when the dragon was standing in his way. Then he blinked those tearful eyes as he penned 12 Years A Slave.