director Steve McQueen
I’m not big on seeing movies that win Oscars, but I had been wanting to see Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, though, let’s face it: it’s not a fun subject matter. I’ve also been meaning to see McQueen’s earlier film, Hunger (2008), but haven’t yet either. Starving Irish prisoners being almost as much fun as slavery. I jest.
But, as I have mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been using the BBC’s recent list of “The 100 Greatest American Films” as a guide to filling in my dance card with classic films that I’ve never seen. Interestingly, 12 Years is probably the newest film on the list, something that always seems a lack of perspective when compiling lists.
The story is terrible and fascinating, drawn from the true life account of one Solomon Northup, who in 1841 was shanghaied from his home in the North and sold into slavery in the South. It stars the remarkable Chiwetel Ejiofor on a journey of a nightmare is almost impossible to comprehend.
Frankly, I thought that the film was good, but not great (I know this is something I say probably far too often about films). I don’t feel like trying to pick it apart to say why I think it fails to reach a level of greatness. It’s a noble effort, a noble endeavor, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. It just didn’t impress me overall the way great films do.
Take that for what you will. I’ll leave it at that.