!2 Years a Slave

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!2 Years a Slave

Postby Andy_S on Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:42 am

Just watched this with my (14-year-old) daughter. She was in tears and I was stunned.

This is easily one of the most harrowing films I have ever seen; it rivals "Schindlers List," "The Killing Fields" and "Crossing" in that regard. But from a film-makers perspective, it is very matter-of-fact, even restrained; there is no element of melodrama. This makes it one of the most powerful works of art I can recall.

If you have not seen it, do so.
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby Steve James on Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:50 pm

It's amazing. In the early 80s, Gordon Parks made Northrup's story into a movie that was shown on PBS. It didn't get much attention at all. Probably because it could never be as brutal as a film in today's time. When I taught the book in the 90s, students didn't really relate to it as much as to other narratives. Maybe that was because Northrup wasn't a typical uneducated slave who escaped to freedom. Northrup could always compare the injustice of being enslaved to that of his previous liberty. Anyway, the power of his story to the people of his time was that it illustrated how the slave system injured everyone involved.
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby Ian C. Kuzushi on Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:04 am

Great film. I was happy to see it win big tonight (I was also very happy that MM got best actor for what I thought was the other deserving best picture film of the year).
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby wiesiek on Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:51 am

American slavery filmed by Hollywood - i`m sorry, i don`t buying it.
After Kunta Kinte series i decided NEVER look at this part of history thru cinema eye /particularly made in H./,
so Oscar went unnoticed here
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby Steve James on Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:40 am

Hey, read the book. It's been around 150+ years. Nothing to do with the Oscars.
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby Interloper on Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:32 am

Well there were some richly deserved Oscars awarded last night. Could have been more, but the three garnered by this film were in major categories, including Best Picture/Film. So, huzzah!
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby wiesiek on Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:44 pm

thanx Steve ,
it maybe is good book, however
I`m simply to old for such staff like slavery or never ending similar like Auschwitz story, I`m aware, that America fill guilty ant trying hard to pay back like, lets say Germany,
but
do Italian fill guilty because they was Roman empire ?
hehe, in reverse they are proud of it...
And
on the top of it , when I heard about this move first time /never saw even one shot/, I was sure that this is Oscar NO1 this year :-\
It doesn`t mean that I read only unicorns type :) , certain part of the our history became unreadable for me - maybe too much readings in younger days
so
it is great move only not for me :-X
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby Dajenarit on Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:09 pm

So wait. 'Gravity didn't win best pic? That's mildly disappointing. Its the first movie in years that I wanted to win. First movie in years to have me literally on the edge of my seat. It very different from most of the stuff produced in the last decade or 2. Not much plot of dialogue but extremely entertaining. You gotta see it with 3d glasses too.

I really don't care for or follow the Oscars though. Its like the Grammy's. Its not really representative of the best or most talented or most effective artists in the world.

I guess you could say that about the World Series and the like.

I'm with Wiesek. When Hollywood throws out a couple movies about Slave revolts then you know they're serious about telling our story. 12 years a slave was a good by the books movie for what it is, but it comes off as torture porn after a while. What did we learn about black people besides what we already knew from countless movies about slavery. OK they got called the N word 100 times a day, physically and psychologically tortured, raped and murdered at a whim. Basically treated worse than your average farm animal. Ok, and what? Fucking dreary and depressing. Where's the hope and dignity of these people? There inner lives had to be more complex than what was portrayed to survive that kind of daily horror show.
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby Steve James on Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:26 pm

Lots of people don't want to see films about slavery or the holocaust. Some don't want to cry; some don't want to feel guilt; some don't want to get angry. None of those reasons affects the quality or lack of quality of a story. So, really, your argument is that you don't want to see a film about a certain subject. The emotional reasons are yours. "Dallas Buyers Club" is also a great film, and I'm sure there are people who would refuse to see it because it has gays, transsexuals and people with AIDS. But, it's hard for them to judge how good a film it is if they don't see it. I can understand why some people wouldn't want to. This type of film bothers people because it's historical. American history is tricky to discuss in America --which is probably why the people behind "12 Years" are Brits.

Ya know, when I was a kid, there were mostly ww2 stories and westerns that represented on film anything like American history. There were also documentaries about the holocaust. As a kid, of course, the John Wayne war and western heroes were far more easy and reassuring to watch than the documentaries. But, perhaps because it was also in the civil rights era, I promised never to look away --because I knew that I wanted to just as much as some of the people who were watching what was going on in Mississippi (and the Mekong Delta, fwiw).

Ironically, it was the values portrayed in the Wayne movies, and Hollywood in general if you like, that made me come to that decision --in spite of the fact that it was a rare western that portrayed Indians as anything other than savages or villains, and even rarer was a war story that showed the atrocities of ww2. But, there are some f-in great war movies and westerns, just the same.

And, why should people watch otherwise? Well, for ex., I think that letting people know that Poles and Czechs were in the RAF participating in the Battle of Britain is simply telling history. But, for some, it will seen as making a political or social point. If the story is told that at least one of the Polish pilots was beaten to death by English people when he bailed out, some might say that makes the English look bad. Oh well.
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby Steve James on Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:40 pm

What did we learn about black people besides what we already knew from countless movies about slavery.


You really expect to learn something about people from a film? Hey, are you looking at this from the other perspective? I.e., do you think that we learned something about white people that we already knew? Is (or isn't) that the real problem?

Afa hope and dignity, Solomon Northrup published "12 years" about 2 years after the most famous book "about" slavery, Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin." People today who haven't read the book, but only know the concept of "Uncle Tom," think that Tom was a weak character. Tsk, tsk, Tom was --and continues to be-- the icon of faith, hope and belief in the future. At the same time, there's more blood and guts in Beecher's novel than in Northrup's autobiography. My point is that even if the characters were hopeful, faithful, cheerful, waiting for their reward in heaven, types, if the "slavery" part were shown, some people would complain. Otoh, if they made a movie of Nat Turner's revolt, that would be a change. I don't think anyone would learn anything more about Black people. I would be surprised if it were nominated for an Oscar. It's not about the type of Black characters that are portrayed.

Anyway, loved Gravity. But, if I considered it a "space" movie, that would be doing the same thing as considering "12 years" a "slave" movie. They're both; they're all, about people. The history is just the context.
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby aamc on Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:37 pm

Comment here to just re-iterate what Steve James said. Its a great film, this isn't really a 'slave' film. Its a film about slavery. I thought that its excellently told. It doesn't sentimentalise, it tries and I think it succeeds, in not moralising in anyway. It leaves it too you to draw your own conclusions, and as SJ said. I read it as showing not just, the terror of slavery but how it brutalises and divides everyone. Its a powerful and clever film. So I understand Wiesiek's point about not wanting to see film's about slavery. But, the film isn't some blackman's polemic on whiteman's guilty. I thought it went well beyond that.
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby aamc on Mon Mar 03, 2014 2:38 pm

They're both; they're all, about people. The history is just the context.


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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby wiesiek on Mon Mar 03, 2014 3:51 pm

I hear you ,
but my reasons are not emotional...
whole my youth I`ve been overhelming by such story :
one man or whole nations going thru the their dark ages of their existence here, on the planet earth, leaving deaths and suffering for next generations...
but
wait! isn`t that whole mankind history goin`n the same way? , >:( Geee, anyway,
It simply became dull for me,

for both reasons - people in such situations and history as just the context. :)

Somehow, particularly WWII /with big red on holocaust/ and afro-american contra rest of the word things

and I `m very suspicious about >best pictures<, but `cause didn`t sow I`m shutting up

HOOLYWOOOOOOD give`me fresh look or zomething -drink-
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby Dmitri on Mon Mar 03, 2014 4:29 pm

It's a very, very good movie wiesiek; forget about politics or slavery or Hollywood or even history -- it's just a good movie, period. But you sound like you've made up your mind, which is cool.

("Gravity", since it was brought up, was very slightly spoiled for me by their oversight of simple little effects of basic laws of mechanics (although mostly they did an excellent good job with that), but it was very occasional and didn't diminish the overall quality, i.e. I still enjoyed it very much.)
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Re: !2 Years a Slave

Postby Andy_S on Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:33 pm

Dajemarit:

SNIP
What did we learn about black people besides what we already knew from countless movies about slavery. OK they got called the N word 100 times a day, physically and psychologically tortured, raped and murdered at a whim. Basically treated worse than your average farm animal. Ok, and what? Fucking dreary and depressing.
SNIP

Er....is this not an accurate representation of slavery in the south? Sherlock (whatever his name is) appears early in the film as a rather more decent slave owner, though for me the most devastating line in the film comes from his wife (to a slave who has just been bought, and in doing so, been separated from her two children):
"So you've lost your children? Oh, dear. Well, don't worry! You will soon get over it."

SNIP
Where's the hope and dignity of these people? There inner lives had to be more complex than what was portrayed to survive that kind of daily horror show.
SNIP

I think you expressing typical Hollywood expectations here.

It is generally the case for humans in the most extreme and degrading situations - slave plantations, Nazi concentration camps, North Korean labor camps - that there is precious little dignity and very little hope. Many survivors feel terrible guilt not just for surviving, but for what they did to survive. Read Eli Wiesel, read Shin Dong-hyuk. The end of "12 Years a Slave" is..

SPOILER! READ NO MORE IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM!

...happy in the sense that Solomon, remarkably, is freed. But the situation of his fellow slaves, including Patsy - who is in the worst situation - are left unresolved.

And that, tragically, is the reality of the story - not Hollywood-style dignity, heroism, etc, etc.

Wiesek:

It is a Brit-US co-production, not a simple Hollywood production. In fact, it is far too matter-of-fact and almost documentary in its style to be typical of mainstream Hollywood movies.

And it ain't happy viewing, I grant you that.
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