Last night I went to the movies and I went to see “12 Years a Slave”, directed by Steve McQueen. I did not want to go see it in Italian, because I wanted to appreciate it in English, but I gave in and went to see it.
I’ve seen 2 other movies by Steve McQueen (Hunger and Shame), I like the issues he addresses and how he addresses them; it always helps that most of the times the protagonist in his movies is Michael Fassbender (my favorite actor).
“12 Years a Slave” is a beautiful movie, based on Solomon Northup’s true story, with beautiful sceneries and music. I think the music is what makes the movie so emotional – I myself shed a tear in a couple of scenes.
I loved how crude the movie was at times, because it portrayed exactly how it was at the times, when slavery was still legal, and how it concentrated on the slave’s conditions almost entirely: for example, in “Django Unchained” directed by Quentin Tarantino, the director shows some of the slave’s conditions, but it’s much more focused on Django’s “revenge” and quest to take his wife away from the cotton plantation owner. It’s curious how in both movies the protagonist is saved by a “foreigner”: in “12 Years a Slave” the only (white) man that actually tries to help and (later on) saves Solomon is a Canadian carpenter (played by Brad Pitt), and in “Django Unchained” it’s Dr King Schultz, an austrian dentist, that frees Django.
Returning to “12 Years a slave”, I recognized 3 moments in this movie, crucial moments for the protagonist. At first Solomon accepts the violin by Mr Ford and plays, tries to write a letter to his family, so he still has hope to become free again; then we can notice how at one moment he starts singing with the slaves: this had never occurred before, but he is finally accepting that he probably will never be saved; and finally he breaks his violin, as to say: “I’m a slave, I’m no better than everybody else, and what actually differentiates me from the others is what is damaging me the most”.
What I disliked of this movie is how little it showed the psychological aspects of the other characters. For example: Mr Ford is a compassionate man and helps Solomon; I do not question the fact that he had slaves, because it was “normal” back then (especially in the South) and it was strange if you didn’t have them! What struck strange to me was why he had certain men working for him, brutal men that treated the slaves like animals; and then I would’ve like to understand better Michael Fassbender’s character: was he just crazy? Or was he just and alcoholic? Or was he alcoholic BECAUSE he was crazy? And what was up with the wife and, most of all, Betsy?
But anyway, since the movie is pretty much based on the book by Solomon, I guess some things weren’t even addressed.
I loved this movie and I cannot wait to see it in English as well, because it certainly lost a lot of it’s character and preciousness with the translation.