Rating: 4/5 (after I had just watched it), 5/5 after it sunk in.
Fabulous ending but, for me, very confusing. I kept leaning over to ask Harry to explain things!
The British Curriculum doesn't teach American history so most of what I know is from films. I once took a course on Black History Studies but due to work commitments I dropped out after the first term. Well, I say "work commitments" but deep down I think some of the truths were too intense for me. Some of the knowledge actually started making me hate white people so I thought maybe I wasn't ready yet!
12 Years A Slave assumed quite a lot of knowledge and many of the scenes were horrific. The cruelty of American slave masters seemed to know no bounds but at least even within that there were a few glimpses that not everyone was so hard-hearted.
I loved the scene early in the film when a ship arrived at the port and one of the kidnapped slaves was immediately reclaimed by his master. They both seemed elated to see each other.
There were a couple of longeurs, for instance, the scene when Platt was lynched was left on for far too long - it was a very evil scene and not something that needed to be played out that long.
There were quite a few things that I didn't know, for instance, I am learning more and more that there were free black people in the North of America that led very ordinary lives. This makes me wonder:
I found the relationship between the last slave owner and Patsey most confusing:
Then there was the scene where that white farmer seemed to have married one of the slaves. I wondered whether that was actually the case and if so, how that worked given I understand there were laws at the time that disallowed interracial marriage.
Ultimately, this is a period in time with so many stories. I wonder to what extent films depict reality. 12 Years A Slave was an interesting, yet heart-wrenching lesson for me. I could never willingly watch it again, but I would definitely watch the sequel that tied up the loose ends.
"Black People Only Get Awards For Slave Films"
I have read many comments to this effect widely on the internet and I think this is one of the worst things that has come out after the film. 12 Years A Slave was a good film period. It won best film/picture at the Oscars because it was very well acted. We still live in a world where, by and large, mainstream films don't have black people as main characters.
I personally don't think good acting has anything to do with race. If you have a good story, a great producer and find people that can act, the makings of a good picture are all there. Those who get the opportunity to act at that level have the opportunity to win amazing awards.
I think anyone who holds the opinion that black people only win awards is rather small minded and isn't thinking about the bigger picture - not only the history - but the current status quo in terms of what producers think people will watch. 'Nuff Said...