Note: The Times Union is not responsible for posts and comments written by non-staff members. Fast forward to mid-November and this film is being highly touted as an Academy Award contender. Elvira asked me if it were wrong to wish she could see the movie with a black friend as opposed to a white friend. This is a phenomenon many white people may not understand.  The subject and storyline of this movie is very personal  for people of color.
There is a direct line from the trappings and residue of slavery to the refusal by some in America to honor a black man in the White House.   But I wonder if one movie will be able to repair that. I hadn’t heard of it until semi-recently (a couple of weeks ago) when I saw a trailer for it.
Just as a side note, Chiwetel Ejiofor is an excellent and, I believe, very underrated actor. The notion of Black people wanting to see this film with other Black people doesn’t shock or surprise me. I found it strange that the local media hasn’t been more forcefully pushing the local connection.
Ironically, nearly every trailer for upcoming movies that were shown in the theater were for movies that are not typically advertised there- many of the movies were ones with all black casts, for example. I will eventually see this movie, it sounds as well done and as heartbreaking as Philadelphia and Schindler’s List, two movies that made me just sit there through the credits with tears in my eyes. If slavery and its’ inherent racism had actually ended 150 years ago maybe it would be time to get over it, but another 100 years of racism followed the Civil War before this country and its people finally began to deal and make atones for this shameful history.
I learned of the story 25 years ago when UAlbany named a cluster of apartment buildings after Solomon Northup. Prior to reading this article, I was going to say that I don’t like these types of movies that explore slavery in the US because it makes me so angry. I did see Django and though it had it’s faults, at least Django got some violent revenge which was cathartic.
Unfortunately not many escaped and many, including my ancestors, suffered horribly during slavery and in the generations after. I have not seen the movie because I am afraid it will be too upsetting….Maybe I misunderstood, but do I have to be black to take the movie personally? In trying to get the exact dates, I came across this which has more info about Solomon Northrup and shows that the Spectrum upped its anti by showing it on two screens.
The movie moved me in the same way that a visit to the Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC moved me many years ago. The Magnolia Plantation was as close to anything I have personally witnessed to provide me a clue as to what life was like pre Emancipation. Albert J: As usual Tony B, your analysis is neither fast, nor slow, and remains consistently incomplete and Half fast. Come check out the Best Film of the Year, according to the Oscars!  The harrowing account of a black man, born free in New York State, who was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in 1841. For various reasons, great films are usually not released on big screens in Malaysia, only sometimes, if we're lucky, they might be released if they're nominated in the Golden Globes and The Academy Awards (Oscars) due to the free buzz. 12 Years a Slave is based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free African-American man in the 1840s who was kidnapped, sold into slavery, renamed as "Platt" and experienced 12 difficult years of harsh treatment which he did not even deserve at all in the first place.
While director Steve McQueen's focus is Northup's survival throughout the years, the storytelling does not neglect the torment that the other slaves had to experience. The emotionally poignant performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup is quite doubtlessly a definite Oscar nominee for Best Actor. Steve McQueen's Oscar-winning drama 12 Years A Slave was snubbed by esteemed MTV movie critics last night. I have not yet seen the film “12 Years A Slave.”  But I began reading about the movie this past spring, before word of it’s coming release was generally public. My close friend Denise (who is black) went to the Spectrum Theater on Albany’s Delaware Avenue. Denise also shared the view, saying the Spectrum theater was filled with predominantly white faces.
It is rather shocking that a movie based on a person born here didn’t get any publicity. I remember when the movie Philadelphia was in the treaters, I wanted to see it first with other Gay friends.


Yes, Bronxville has come a long way, my buddy Martha-Lee tells me, and I believe it since I’m an optimist, but I will never forget what grandma said.
A corollary to this famous one from Alan King: King once took his mother to a performance of Fiddler on the Roof. Having grown up in Virginia for a short time, I seemed to have developed an interest in anything that has to do with the Civil War. Ken, I totally understand your feeling that you would prefer to see it with a black person and that shouldn’t be a problem for anyone. Although it stuns me to hear you mom had no idea how things were for blacks in 50-60’s. Having no way to contact his family, and fearing for his life if he told the truth, Solomon Northup was sold from plantation to plantation in Louisiana, toiling under cruel masters for twelve years before meeting Samuel Bass, a Canadian who finally put him in touch with his family, and helped start the process to regain his freedom.
But good thing 12 Years A Slave was brought in this early (considerably) otherwise I'd still be blindly hoping for Rush to win all awards in this season. Through this film, we can thoroughly witness the cruel nature of the America's senseless racism and slavery played out with brilliant cinematography and powerful acting display. It'd make you wonder and feel upset for who were born as slaves and had to work till they're old or till they're abused to death. There are quite a few long sequences filmed in a single shot at one angle with characters in the background as actively involved as the ones focused in the scene. Besides all the long one-shot scenes, the demanding role also required Ejiofor to convincingly act out his character's change of emotions and sufferings through only facial expressions in closeup shots without dialogues, and he killed it. Northup worked on plantations in the state ofLouisiana for twelve years before his release. Though it was nominated for Movie Of The Year, it was beaten by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I found it fascinating that a true story about a free black man from Saratoga in the 1850’s , who was kidnapped and  sold into Southern slavery, was not getting any local news coverage (it’s a major Hollywood movie!).  No one I spoke with was aware of the movie, the story of Solomon Northup, or that it was a true story.
And in truth, it shouldn’t make a difference.  But apparently this story is so searing for African-Americans, so heart wrenching, that some blacks want to experience it communally for fear that others may not fully comprehend what they’re watching.
Like most Gay men of my generation, the AIDS epidemic and our society’s initial response to it was, and still is, a very painful wound that I carried in my heart.
I agree with you that i am amazed that the local media and local groups have not publicized or had events surrounding this movie opening.
Even today, the some of the horrors of slavery, and the horrors of the Civil War still shock me.
I hope it ends up enduring as a word of mouth type film that draws people in over the long haul. There is a direct and unflinching line between this behavior and the institution of slavery.
I would like to take this opportunity to salute GSC Movies and Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) for occasionally releasing "non-mainstream movies" such as this one despite considering it as a "niche market content" for Malaysia. Like many other critics, I too think that although the film is a painful one to watch, it's an essential one, not only to serve as a reminder for humanity, but also to show how a film with great respect to an autobiography should be made. Sure, when compared to Django Unchained (2012), it's probably not as violent, but that one's a complete fictionised action comedy to entertain, while this one's based on a real experience of a person who went through 12 years of slavery. Michael Fassbender, in his third collaboration with Steve McQueen, did not disappoint as well, playing the cruel abusive slave owner Edwin Epps but it's harder to say if he'd get nominated for Best Supporting Actor as his performance overshadowed by Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o's (who plays Patsey). Nominated star Chiwetel Ejiofor went home empty-handed, with the Best Male Performance awarded to industry veteran Josh Hutcherson for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I am from Saratoga Springs area and the story is probably known more here…they have a Solomon Northrup day in Saratoga and the Library Book club had picked it as its book for Saratoga Reads awhile back.
Now I know the nominations for the Oscars aren't even announced yet, I'm pretty confident that this one will be one of the favourites for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Cinematography. Oscar-winning newcomer Lupita Nyong'o also missed out, with Best Female Performance going to Jennifer Lawrence for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. In each case the conversation, after seeing ’12 Years A Slave’, was as if they had experienced something transformative.  Each said it was difficult to watch and that as the movie progressed a building ‘anger’ overtook them. Having said that, it was very reassuring that there were lots of straight people in the crowd who were crying.
The book is Nothrups account of his kidnapping and the years in slavery and is very detailed with objective accounts of life in terrible conditions and brutal experiences. To the point, however: in that theater of predominantly white faces (there were some of color, too, which surprised me, given my pre-disposition) I heard some inappropriate noises throughout.


It is referenced, people nod their heads somberly, but no one actually comperhends the depth of these horrendous chapters in American history and how their redidual effects continue to permeate American society. Principal photography took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, from June 27 to August 13, 2012. To cap a miserable evening for Steve McQueen's movie, Chiwetel Ejiofor wasn't even nominated for Best Shirtless Performance. One was a man (elderly) near me who couldn’t hear what was being said — or was that me? I have to say I am completely dumfounded as to why local media did not pay more attention to this movie and story given its local roots. I have since read that after the book was written Northrup was well known in the 1850s and a major figure with Frederic Douglas in furthering the anti-slavery movement. It proved to be a box office success, earning over $187 million on a production budget of $18 million.
I think they were gazing at their iPads since I saw something glowing toward the end of the film and I don’t think there were iPads or any glowing LCDs in Louisiana in the 1850s.
So, I concur with your sentiment: yes, some folks should see it communally with those with whom they share a common history of discrimination and hatred. Northup engineers a waterway for transporting logs swiftly and cost-effectively across a swamp, and Ford presents him with a violin in gratitude.
We need to get you to see it soon Ken Screven!…before Disney turns it into a musical! In retaliation, Tibeats and his friends attempt to lynch Northup, who suffers many hours standing on tiptoe while in the noose.
Ford explains that in order to save Northup's life he must be sold to Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender).
A young female slave named Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o) picks over 500 pounds (230 kg) daily, and is praised lavishly by Epps. He also repeatedly rapes her, and seems to fall in love with her against his better judgement. Epps' wife (Sarah Paulson) is envious of Patsey and frequently humiliates and attacks her.The abuse of Patsey worsens as Epps continues to rape her. While there, Northup gains the favor of the plantation's owner, who allows him to play the fiddle at a neighbor's wedding anniversary celebration, and to keep his earnings.When Northup returns to Epps, he attempts to use the money to pay a white field hand and former over-seer, Armsby (Garret Dillahunt), to mail a letter to Northup's friends in New York.
Northup is betrayed by Armsby, and Northup is narrowly able to convince Epps that the story of a letter is a lie. Bass earns Epps' displeasure by expressing his opposition to slavery, by trying to explain to Epps that he could have a little compassion towards those working for him. Epps sees them as his property.One day, Epps becomes enraged after discovering Patsey missing from his plantation. When she returns, she reveals she was gone to get a bar of soap from Mistress Shaw (Alfre Woodard), having become sick from her own stench as a result of being forbidden soap by Mary Epps.
Northup reluctantly obeys, but Epps eventually takes the whip away from Northup, savagely lashing her.Northup purposely destroys his violin, and while continuing to work on the gazebo, he asks Bass where he's from. Bass, risking his life, agrees to send it.One day, Northup is called over by the local sheriff, who arrives in a carriage with another man.
The sheriff asks Northup a series of questions to confirm his answers match the facts of his life in New York. Though Epps angrily resists and Patsey is distraught, Northup leaves immediately.After being enslaved for twelve years, Northup is restored to freedom and returned to his family.
As he walks into his home, he sees his whole family, including his daughter, who presents him with his grandson and namesake. Then for Benedict [Cumberbatch], I found some real upper-class New Orleanians from the '30s. And then I also worked with Lupita Nyong'o, who's Kenyan but she did her training at Yale.



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