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"12 Years a Slave" (2013)


RMeingast
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News item today about the film "12 Years a Slave" to be shown in US public schools beginning this September:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/12-years-a-slave-to-be-taught-in-u-s-schools-1.2550656

 

The film recently won the BAFTA award as best film:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/12-years-a-slave-wins-bafta-award-for-best-film-1.2539701

 

The film also has 9 Oscar nominations this year.

 

CBC film review by Eli Glasner here:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Arts%20and%20Entertainment/ID/2412882798/

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I don't know? You can watch both movies...

 

My mom is a fan of "GWTW" because she likes Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, etc, and not because of the way it portrays the Confederacy and slavery.

 

The National School Boards Association is going to be distributing the film "12 Years a Slave" in public high schools in the U.S. as a teaching aid on slavery:

http://wreg.com/2014/02/25/12-years-a-slave-coming-to-high-schools/

 

Penguin Books (for the Solomon Northup memoir), the film company, director Steve McQueen, and National School Boards Association have teamed up to do this. The movie and supporting materials will be provided for free to schools.

 

But apparently the film will be edited to allow it to be seen by high school kids. Content that earned it an "R" rating will be removed.

 

Miss W, you have seen the film, can it be edited for school kids??

Or should they see the "R" original version??

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So your mom would be a fain of Plan 9 from Outer Space if it stared Gable and Leigh? I think people that feel GWTW is one of the top studio-era movies feel that way for many, many reasons, with the quality of the acting (which was first rate), being only one of them.

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<< So your mom would be a fain of Plan 9 from Outer Space if it stared Gable and Leigh? >>

 

Maybe? I don't know... I'd like it better if it starred Gable and Leigh... I know she likes "GWTW" due to the acting and the romantic aspect of the story. She may like it for other reasons too.

U want me to get her to join the message board???

She watches TCM, as I do...

 

<< I think people that feel GWTW is one of the top studio-era movies feel that way for many, many reasons, with the quality of the acting (which was first rate), being only one of them. >>

 

That's true...

 

This thread is about "12 Years a Slave" and Joe below stated that fans of "Gone With The Wind" wouldn't be fans of "12 Years a Slave."

That's what I was responding to.

I don't know if he was being serious or not.

But you might want to respond to him.

I think you can be a fan of both "Gone With the Wind" and "12 Years a Slave" for the same reasons or different reasons.

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If you like historical drama then you would like both "GWTW" and "12 Years A Slave" but while "GWTW" is a romanticized view of the Old South- "12 Years A Slave" is brutally realistic. If they edit the film for schools they are going to have to remove the full frontal nudity and the excessive whipping. " 12 Years A Slave" is well crafted but it sort of left me cold- it's like Masterpiece Theater version of "Mandingo"

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Thanks, Joe, for replying.

 

(And to keep things mysterious, my mom may already be a member of the message board who posts regularly...)

 

Anyway, "12 Years a Slave" won 3 out of its 9 nominations:

for the top award for best picture, best supporting actress for Lupita Nyong'o, and best adapted screenplay (by John Ridley).

 

Director Steve McQueen's acceptance speech is here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/12-years-a-slave-brad-pitt-and-steve-mcqueens-best-picture-oscars-acceptance-speech-in-full-9165040.html

 

He dedicated his Oscar to:

 

"all the people who have endured slavery. And the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today."

 

Lupita Nyong'o's acceptance speech is here:

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2014/03/02/transcript-lupita-nyongos-emotional-oscars-acceptance-speech/

 

Article about John Ridley's win:

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/entertainment/248107091.html

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Here are some of my thoughts on *12 Years a Slave*, and also on whether it should be edited for high school use:

 

There are "spoilers", so be aware if you have not yet seen the film.

 

This is an absolutely riveting movie...you feel you can't watch, and yet you can't look away. I think that's the effect the director was aiming for.

Words like "unflinching" and "intense" come to mind in trying to describe it.

What about that scene where the jealous plantation hand tries to hang Solomon. He almost succeeds, but another employee stops him. However, this second employee does not cut Solomon down but leaves him to literally hang there, looks like at least an entire day, with his toes constantly moving and gripping the muddy ground so that he won't slip and be hanged. And this goes on for what seems like hours - probably several minutes.

Point is, McQueen wants to make us watch and feel what this must have been like, not just give us a brief "look how cruel these slavers were", but an intensely painful exhausting terrifying experience, only a tiny glimpse of what Solomon must have been experiencing.

 

And that's just one example.

 

"Some of the film will be edited to make it viewable by younger grades. ... do you think they can edit it for high school kids??"

 

Maybe grades 11 and 12..not sure I'd want an impressionable 13 or 14 year old to see it. But maybe in the context of the guidance of an intelligent and skilled teacher, it would be all right.

I do not think they should show an edited version. The whole point (well, not the whole point, but a major focus) of the film is to make today's viewers realize how unbelievably cruel, racist, and evil the slavery system was, and if you edit out those intense scenes of cruelty and injustice, you maybe dilute it a bit.

 

The rape scene of Patsy might be the only one to consider...but if the kids are 12 or older, and if the teacher discussed it with them before or after the film, maybe even that should be left in. It's not as though we "see" anything, and of course the scene is the antithesis of erotic. Mostly you see Patsy's face, which is tragic enough.

 

If the kids were warned in advance about the extreme violence in the movie, and especially the reason why this violence is depicted, I think it would be ok to leave it in.

Director Steve McQueen clearly wants people to know just how brutal and cruel the slaveowners were. His unflinching scenes of violence, and yes, especially the horrible whippings that were routinely imposed on the slaves - often for virtually no reason at all, not that there would ever be a "reason" for such treatment - drives this reality home to viewers. Many, probably most, of the American South slaveowners were that evil and cruel.

 

As for the nudity, there is nothing even remotely erotic about those scenes, and there are no close-ups that I can recall.

The scenes of the slaves, both male and female, washing in public, in plain view, are there to show that the slaveowners wanted to destroy any sense of pride or modesty or personal self, of privacy, in the slaves. They were treating them like animals, and in that sense, the shots of the unclothed slaves washing themselves in the open like that are, I'm sure, meant to convey this complete absence of respect even for personal privacy.

I see no reason why those scenes -and there are only one or two - should be edited for high school viewing.

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Like I said before this is very well crafted movie - it won the Oscar because of it serious subject matter. "Gravity" worked as an adventure movie but fail to transcend the genre to become something more. I see nothing wrong with showing the movie to high school kids- they see a lot worse violence and nudity on the internet.

 

Edited by: joefilmone on Mar 3, 2014 6:45 PM

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In your opinion is that sound criteria for why a movie should win best picture? Was the fact the subject matter was slavery help the movie receive votes as well?

 

Note that from a historical perspective it does appears that having a serious subject matter gives a movie a leg up, but I don't feel it is crazy to suggest that other factors pushed the movie over the top (but I don't know how close the vote was,,, does anybody?).

 

At the end of the day, I would hope that voters voted it the best picture because they felt it was the best picture and not to make some type of political statement.

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*12 Years a Slave* had been championed as a Best Picture candidate from the day the film debuted last year at one of the film festivals, Cannes or Telluride, I can't remember which one.

 

As the months went by, it became the film to beat for Best Picture because the film offered that now-a-days too rare a combination of good script, good directing, good acting, good film making all coming together to creating a memorable, emotional film experience.

 

Did the seriousness of the subject matter play a role?

 

Yeah, it's possible but no one can say with validity how much.

 

But if someone thinks that the reason the picture won Best Picture is because Hollywood doesn't want to be perceived as racist or Hollywood wanted to be politically correct, they are choosing to overlook all the other factors that played into the film being a top contender from early on: it's a memorable, emotional piece of film making that strikes a deep chord with audiences.

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While I agree with you, the reality is that we will never know why voters voted as they did. Those that support a PC type of theory will use the outcome as evidence that their POV is on target. While this is flawed it is very common. Just ask Bill and Hillary Clinton as it relates to the 2008 primary!

 

But I was still surprised Ellen made that joke right at the start. If a voter honestly felt a movie other than 12 Years was the best picture, implying they are racist isn't really funny. In this regard the joke wasn't PC.

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>But I was still surprised Ellen made that joke right at the start. If a voter honestly felt a movie other than 12 Years was the best picture, implying they are racist isn't really funny

 

Nor was her "joke" about Liza Minnelli.

 

Guess Ellen wanted to show she could be as edgy as Seth MacFarlane.

 

Unfortunately, with social media being what it is today, Liza and Kim Novak took a beating on Twitter, et al, because of their looks.

 

And we wonder why so many older classic film stars prefer to stay out of the limelight and turn down requests for on-camera interviews.

 

Not really all that surprising especially in light of what happened to Liza and Kim.

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Well Iz, the following is what I wrote in reply to Jake's comment today in mongo's "Candids 2" thread about Kim Novak at the Oscars...and not only am I standing by it, but I'll also note that the 89 year old Eva Marie Saint, sans botched plastic surgery, and to whom I reference in said reply, is about to be featured in a upcoming movie...

 

>Yeah, maybe Kim deserved better acclamation, but certainly NOT the plastic surgeon who did THAT to her face!!! (...and which as a counterpoint reminds me of the segment CBS Sunday Morning presented on the still lovely Eva Marie Saint the same day as the Oscar ceremony, and which showed the 89 year old Eva with her never to be removed wrinkles, and all the better for it)

 

And so, I still say IF a person is confident in their own skin, they'll not only likely continue doing the things they do best regardless of age, but will also continue to project a more appealing "face" to the world.

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Well I just read the L.A. Times editorial called '12 Years A Slave' and it mentions the joke. The editorial says that it should be no surprised that 12 Years won best picture because it was a very well made movie, etc.. AND that 'besides, as Ellen joked,, they only had two options; Either they could bestow their highest honor on 12 Years or they were all racist.".

 

So even the L.A. Times is implying 12 Years won because of two reasons with one of the reasons being white guilt. I'm shocked.

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>And so, I still say IF a person is confident in their own skin, they'll not only likely continue doing the things they do best regardless of age, but will also continue to project a more appealing "face" to the world.

 

Dargo,

 

Whether we agree with Kim's choice or not, did she really deserve all the vitriol she received via social media in the last 48 hours?

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2014/03/03/kim-novak-sparks-twitter-snark-fest-immediate-snark-backlash-after-oscars-appearance/

 

She has never been very confident in her own skin. Look back at her history at Columbia where Harry Cohn frequently referred to her as fat, had her put on a special diet, her teeth capped, her hair died blonde and her name changed.

 

One of the reasons she left the biz was because she was ill-prepared to handle the cost of stardom.

 

She is a cancer survivor and also survived a bad fall from horse back riding a few years ago.

 

Who are we (even Donald Trump took to Twitter to take her to task) to sit in judgement of her looks or the reasons why she made the choices she made.

 

She starred in some of the most beloved movies of the l950s and 1960s and rather than salute her for her role in that, we (the societal we) felt the need to remind her that all these years later, we are capable of acting as badly as Harry Cohn once did.

 

Why should an appearance by Kim Novak or Liza Minnelli be any different than an appearance by Olivia deHavilland or Maureen O'Hara?

 

The only difference is we deem them more beautiful and so we (again, the societal we) don't feel the need to judge them as harshly via social media.

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Via Chris Willman,

 

Novak got a dose of celebrity in the age of the Internet when she appeared at the TCM Film Festival in April in Los Angeles.

"A headline screeched, "What Has Happened to Kim Novak's Face?," accompanied by photos of her looking - not "unrecognizable" as the Internet said - but different from the way we remember her.

 

The question mark was superfluous because Novak, who is disarmingly candid, would have explained what happened had anyone asked.

 

She wanted a fresh look, but "I didn't want to do anything major." A doctor suggested fat injections to add fullness to her face."

 

"That was absolutely crazy when I think about it now. You spend all your time trying to get rid of fat. I love the hollow kind of cheekbone look," Novak says.

 

"So why did I do it? I trusted somebody doing what I thought they knew how to do best. I should have known better, but what do you do? We do some stupid things in our lives."

 

She wasn't the first person and she won't be the last one to take a doctor's advice and end up with a different outcome than you anticipated.

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I believe one should expect the type of negative feedback on social media when one has such a poor job done on their face. While it is sad that most of the focus was on Kim's face based on her own comments she must of expected it. She knows the job the surgeon did just doesn't look natural.

 

Now Lizi is a different story. To me she looked more natural than she has in years. Less clown like as it relates to how her make-up was applied.

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In an ideal color blind world politics or race would not influence the Oscar voters. Did "12 Years a Slave" win Best Picture because white guilt academy members who did not want to be perceived as racist? They had no problem being perceived as homophobic when they gave the best picture Oscar to "Crash" instead of "Brokeback Mountain"

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>They had no problem being perceived as homophobic when they gave the best picture Oscar to "Crash" instead of "Brokeback Mountain"

 

Is that how Oscar films are supposed to be judged today, by "minority group featured in the film" rather than by "good movie"? I don't think so. Spike Lee is black and has made a lot of black-themed movies, but he has never won an Academy Award.

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Iz my friend, I'll have to admit you made some good points...with maybe the BEST one being when you mentioned the following:

 

>(even Donald Trump took to Twitter to take her to task)

 

I mean, Donald and with whatever the hell thing HE sports on the top of HIS head, should be that LAST person in the world to ever talk about ANOTHER person's appearance, RIGHT???!!!

 

LOL

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