12 Years a Slave Reviews
|9 out of 10|
Reading wiki about this story is almost as painful as watching the movie, particularly in the historic background section of african-americans losing voting rights in the NE in the early 19th century, and purposeful flaws of US legal system.
Definitivamente una de las películas mas bellas que he visto; una obra maestra de Steve McQueen, tan bien trabajada desde el vesuario, la puesta en escena, la música; las excelentes actuaciones le dan mas intensidad a esta historia tan profunda sobre la esclavitud que sin lugar a dudas todo el mundo debe ver.
The umbrellas with long handles that we use when it rains cats and dogs always remind me of Mary Poppins' umbrella. If someone asks me now, if I would like to go on a journey with Mary Poppins, I would be like a kid in a candy store. Articulating my feelings, "Saving Mr Banks" tells the origin story of Mary Poppins and presents behind the scenes of the movie. Frankly, this movie flies me off to all new and different realms. Like me and Mary Poppins never left each other's side throughout the film.
I think there's not one soul amongst us that doesn't know that arrogant and well-disciplined governess Mary Poppins, who flies using her enormous black umbrella. We get to know Mary Poppins, who has a wardrobe reminiscent of a regular 19th century English woman, as a super hero coming from heavens with dark colored clothes and a gigantic hat. In fact, what identifies Mary Poppins is the coal black umbrella of hers. Chosen as a "metaphorical" symbol of the gloomy rainy weathers of England, black umbrella is an important element that we identify Mary Poppins with. In reality, Mary Poppins is a very special person, because she has her own unique feature. She can tidy up a messy room just with a finger snap, she can fly and she can take out enormous household goods just from her small handbag. Having children under her spell with her magical powers, there's no impossible for Mary Poppins.
Now, picture all this before your eyes! If you could manage to do this, we can continue to how Mary Poppins have been realized. Based on a true story, Mr. Banks shows us the behind the scenes of this Disney classic and tells us the story of the unstable relationship between legendary Walt Disney and author P. L. Travers. When his daughters persistently asked him to shot the film of their favorite book Mary Poppins, Walt Disney promised them that he would, but he didn't realize at that time that keeping his promise would take 20 years.
THE MERGENCE OF MAIN AND SIDE STORIES
Consist of the merged main and side stories, "Saving Mr. Banks" shows the inner world of the author Travers perfectly. While we're already talking about main and side stories, we should give details on these subjects. Within the side story, we watch "behind the scenes" moments of Mary Poppins and within the main story we watch the relationship between the author and Walt Disney. For example, when a 'flashback' cuts in, we see the "behind the scene" enactments of Mary Poppins. Besides, these enactments consist of phantasms and reality intertwined. Well then, how does phantasm and reality intertwine? Let me answer this immediately. Within the scenes, where phantasm dominates, Travers imagines the scenes that will be shot. Telling us the events happened between 1906 and 1965 from his own point of view, the author reminds us that we're watching a "film within a film". He already is the eyes and ears of the film! In fact, having us identify ourselves with Mary Poppins, Travers reminds us Poppins' umbrella by using the "rain provides life" cue. Another detail is that the relation between object and character is as right as rain. For example, there are Walt Disney toys in Travers' hotel room. Eh, at the end, the movie was being produced by Walt Disney! But what impressed me most is that director John Lee Hancock, who uses vivid colors, turned the scenes, shot in 2:35:1 cinemascope format, into a visual feast. This visual feast reflects the beginnings and the middle of the 1900s so good that you want the time machine has already been invented, so that you can travel back. The movie, really, embraces us and due to its strong aura, all the scenes become engraved on your mind.
Let's cut to the Travers' experiences, which is the main theme of the movie. Sometimes, Travers' anger and dissatisfaction raise difficulties for the production. Because the author always worries about that the film won't be able to reflect the essence of the book. For me, the most important thing is Walt Disney's 20 years long perseverance to keep his promise to his children. But it looks like, the life Travers led let her down so much that she can't shake off all her bitterness and bad temper. The most obvious evidence of the bad temper of rebellious and delirious Travers is the lonely life she led. In fact, she was so lonely that Mary Poppins was her only friend. Actually, was not this the only reason for Walt Disney to pursue Travers? Actually, the most interesting part of this story is the "Mr. Banks" character which was inspired from the deceased father of the writer. May be this is the reason of her bitterness. Who knows? In general, Travers' conversation with Walt Disney's toy may be the sign of the loneliness and dissatisfaction of the writer who has chosen solitude after all she has been through. Because, used as a metaphor, the Disney toy makes all the problems, buried deep inside Travers' personality, burst out. According to our analysis, Travers either postponed these problems or enshrined her own loneliness into her heart.
MARVELOUS ACTING AND SOME GAPS
When examined superficially, the perfect storyline and the marvelous acts of Emma Thompson, who plays Travers, and Tom Hanks, who plays Walt Disney, make a cold fact appear before us. According to that cold fact, what we watched on the screen was multi-layered; and we get aware of this fact only at the end of the movie. The message is so deep that it's hard to forget all along our life; because, maybe we will never watch another movie that teaches a powerful humanity lesson. However, it wouldn't be right to finish the article without making this small critic: I think it was a bit irrational to show Colin Firth, who plays Mr. Banks, whose also gives his name to the title of the movie, within so few scenes. Hence it looks like something outweighed. And also, even, incorrect portrayal of Mary Poppins' character within the scenes that show the behind the scenes moments of the original film tops it all. I wonder why they didn't put any scene that shows Mary Poppins flying with her umbrella, which is a token of her identity? It's hard to find a logical answer. It seems like, the behind the scenes was a bit mediocre. There could be more details.
In a nut shell: Even there were some faults, "Saving Mr. Banks" is a movie that can convey the feeling to the audience and become a friend with them successfully. In the last scene of the film, watching her own film, Travers cried so much that I also couldn't keep my tears from flowing. Especially the music playing in the background was like the blood travelling in our veins. I suggest you not to miss this film. Everyone can find a piece from himself/herself in this movie.
I guess, it would be hard to control our tears, when we imagine the acts of the cruel individuals, who incorporate racism with violence. Then, what if this all acts pass before our eyes just like film reel? There's one thing to say; prepare yourself to the images you will see on the silver screen!
Did you ever paid or forced to pay a price where you have neither any responsibility nor obligation? I'm sure we all did; at least once. But when that price is your freedom, then a line should be drawn there! Emphasizing the fact that freedom is priceless, the film "12 Years a Slave", which has Academy Award nominations in 9 categories, shows the different forms of the war between white men and black men lasting for centuries conspicuously. Steve McQueen, acclaimed director of successful movies like "Shame" and "Hunger", amplifies the power of the reality and vitality of the story by rendering his own feelings in. We should discuss this in detail. According to the movie and the proletarian dictatorship, the injustice and slaughter that enslaved black man subjected is a great crime. We can see that ownership instinct and hierarchical system have nothing to do with belief systems; the only reason is the "poisonous ego" of the humankind. We can relate the tyranny to "poisonous ego"; because "poisonous ego" makes all the depressed feelings within the subconscious emerge. Just like we see in the movie, "12 Years a Slave"... Now let's examine how the story of the film is told on the silver screen...
SUCH A CRUELTY
Solomon Northup is an African American guy, who lives in New York with his family and devoted himself to music. Solomon is a happy man with his freedom of choice. One day, he meets two men about a music job and goes to Washington to work as a musician. But the civilized world that he believed in turns upside down; those two men drugs and kidnaps him and sell to plantation in the South as a slave. The only thing, we can tell about the rest of the movie is that your tears will flow. Because all a slave's psychology subjected is suffering, torture and slaughter. Poor African Americans, the innocent victims of the tyrants! The beatings Solomon and the other slaves received are the reflections of cruelty. This heart-breaking situation may remind the audience of the Hitler's, Stalin's and Franco's dictatorships. Even the Jigsaw, with its torture scenes... Though, it can't be a patch on Jigsaw!
THE WAR BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL
There's no doubt that the center of this story of slavery war and personal freedom that happened 200 years ago is the protagonist Solomon, who was ossified with his ups and downs, fears, endurance and dedication to life, while he also defies it. Maybe this sorrowful journey of Solomon, who is a unique personality, is a bitter pill to swallow, but he reflects his inner light on everything that has happened and this constitutes the backbone of this story's naivety. The despair and unrecoverable anger, our protagonist feels, show the faith of the character drifted towards obscurity. We can identify this as the established form of pain and sorrow. Taking main character away from his homeland and beaming him to an unfamiliar place, a center of evil is throwing audience a curve. Here is an image of loneliness and despair! From this point, we can draw an analogy of Solomon like this: While the dark clouds cast their shadows over his life persistently, just like Rodin's famous sculpture "The Thinker", he loses himself far away in his loneliness. No matter how depressing this scene is, having a strong character, Solomon doesn't give up and learns how to fight with his loneliness, come what may. In addition to this, beyond the struggle for life and the destructive psychological situation, he almost becomes the projection of a troubled life, with an attitude like he can control everything easily. The oppression created by this clash of clans and cruelty increases in daily basis and the unpredictable end that leads to worries us. As we are over-sensitive to this subject, the film made us cry, rarely got our hopes up, reminded us that above all we're human beings and thrown us into the hands of indescribable sorrow.
REMORSELESSNESS AND AN AFFRONT TO HUMANITY
Frankly speaking, along with this kinds of hurtful laws of the civilization, the effort of those remorseless people trying to cover their shameful activities as if nothing has happened, presents the essence of the story, which runs towards an inevitable ending. This remorselessness emerges to the surface once in some people, a few times in some and frequently in some and becomes the identity of them. Then, there's nothing you can do about that kind of individuals. Though, there is a saying as "there is no end to the cures within democracies", but it's hard to talk about the existence of a democracy within this example. The best example of this is the antagonist Edwin's (Michael Fassbender) usage of slaves as his own assets. The words coming from the optimist Canadian farmer (Brad Pitt), who always sees the glass half full, are: "Everybody is equal before the laws, whether he is black or white. If you have been in their shoes just for one day, you would never act like this again." Emphasizing the importance of being empathetic with these words, Canadian, who has his heart in the right place, also underlines the need of the slaves to walk from darkness into the light. In fact, the reason why "they bide, they're on their feet" saying is attributed to slaves is that they never give up. Just a small light of hope would show everyone the meaning and importance of their determination towards life.
MUSICS AND THE LANGUAGE OF THE COLORS
Now, imagine that all these events of the story are backed with the music of a great composer like Hans Zimmer. Wouldn't be so motivational? Yes, you didn't hear wrong; the music of the movie is composed by Hans Zimmer. It's a clever move for director McQueen to combine Hans Zimmer's magnificent music with his 2:35:1 cinemascope images. As if all these brought the movie to a fourth dimension. Gluing the audience on their seats with his high quality cinematography, McQueen gives a lesson on what to shoot and how, by using all visual elements in their proper place, especially the objects that enters the frame. He fits the vivid colors, he prefers to use, via the natural spaces. By this way, the gaps within the script are also filled. But, it looks like filling the gaps was not enough to cover all the errors. For example, one of the most problematic errors that will annoy the audience is the length of the mise-en-scènes. Sometimes these scenes are too long, but sometimes you ignore this problem, because of the wonderful performances of the great actors. As the phrase goes, the unforgettable cues of two great actors, Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor, raise the bar for the film. And also we shouldn't forget an important detail; unique message on slavery from the producer of the film, Brad Pitt.
As a conclusion: "12 Years A Slave" is a fabulous film which wrenches our hearts, fills our eyes with tears, makes us think, gives a lot of messages and serves a purpose. It doesn't only examine the slavery problem, but it tries to cure a bleeding wound of humanity. And by never ceasing... I want to conclude my article by stating: "We shouldn't hide the truth"
Set in the early 1840s, Northup (British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free man who plays the violin and lives with his family in New York. One day he is offered a job in Washington, D.C., but ends up being tricked, kidnapped and is thrown into the human slave trade in the Deep South. Ejiofor delivers the title role perfectly. His performance is electrifying and award-worthy. In fact, he has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor - in a Leading Role. I'll be rooting for him this March. Screenwriter John Ridley (Red Tails and Undercover Brother) gives us a powerful and emotional story told through the eyes of Northup. The story is also based on a part of Northup's own memoir, which was published in 1853.
Once Northup is kidnapped and thrown into the slave trade his name is changed to Platt Hamilton. Hamilton is quickly sold to plantation owner William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch). Ford may be a slave owner, but he still shows sympathy toward Hamilton. Cumberbatch's part is small but he gives a humble performance as Ford and treats his slaves like people, not property. Sadly, Hamilton is sold again to the vicious Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). Fassbender nails his performance as the cruel and wicked slave owner who treats everyone around him like dirt. Epps is a drunk who twists Scripture to make him justify his use of the whip on slaves. Fassbender is the Amon Goeth (Schindler's List) of antagonist in movies. He has also been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor - in a Supporting Role.
Finally, Hamilton meets Samuel Bass (Brad Pitt), a carpenter, who helps him set up an escape to get him back home to his family. There are other noteworthy performances in this film by a stern Paul Giamatti, a sadistic Paul Dano and the incredible Lupita Nyong'o. Nyong'o's performance is so powerful that it will shake you. She has also been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress - in a Supporting Role. This is McQueen's third feature film but he is already proving himself to be a world-class director. McQueen's two previous films, Hunger, about IRS prisoners starving themselves to protest, and Shame, about sex addiction, show the realism and horror of our world. McQueen delivers difficult and challenging films but that is what is captivating about his work. You don't just watch 12 Years a Slave, but you live and breathe it. With every single whip lashed, you feel the excruciating pain in your bones and get knots in your stomach.
This is what makes McQueen's films so mesmerizing, and that is why I'm placing 12 Years a Slave as the No. 1 film of the year. This film will win many awards and deserves them all. It won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama, and also won three Critics' Choice Awards. It has also been nominated for nine Oscars, 11 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), seven Independent Spirit Awards and 11 awards from the Chicago Film Critics Association. On top of that, 12 Years a Slave has another 95 wins and 104 nominations. If you want to see a grand film that will challenge your mind, heart and soul, then I would advise you to go see this film.