12 Years a Slave

In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Knocking Schindler’s List from the top spot in the category, “Fantastic Films I Fucking Hate” is 12 Years a Slave. Before I’ve even put the film in my DVD player, it’s reminding me via an insert signed by director Steve McQueen that 21 million people are still in slavery today. Combined with the real-world racial tensions in certain areas of the United States, plus that whole Confederate flag thing that I can’t weigh in on because of my being English and out of touch, 12 Years a Slave is all the more poignant.

Thank goodness 12 Years a Slave is a good-looking film, because it’s ugly on the inside. I felt the same way when I watched McQueen’s Shame – which also tackles some horrible subject matter without the safety net of a classic Hollywood structure, and also stars Michael Fassbender. But where Shame was very much a one-man show, 12 Years a Slave is the product of a perfect cast – not a miscast actor in sight*.

12 Years a Slave


I went to see this in the cinema in 2013, alone, and it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I don’t enjoy watching 12 Years a Slave – even after Solomon is rescued, there’s no happy ending. Slavery still happens. But such is my dedication to completing this Top 250 project that I’ll accept the unpleasantness of the film.

*Brad Pitt seems a little out of place, simply for the fact that he’s the biggest actor among a cast of people who can hide in their roles. It also doesn’t help that, as a producer of the film, he “conveniently” plays the character responsible for Solomon’s liberation.

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