Quentin Tarintino's film was advertised as a slavery film when it was merely a film with a love and Slavery was a sub theme. With 12 years a slave, this IS in actual fact, a slavery film. You might ask what the difference is, but it is not hard to understand or comprehend that although both men where trying to get back to their beloved partner/wife, Django's story centred more around his wife and his "struggle" in trying to locate her, save her and be back with her. This film on the other hand is centred around the character himself and his struggle in reclaiming his own identity so he can go back to his wife. I'll explain.
As the film starts, we see Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejifor) in the fields working in the blazing heat among other slaves while white slave owners relax in the sun watching the slaves work. The film then flashes back and tells the story until we meet up again at that point in the beginning of the film in the fields. Solomon is a prestigious black man in a town where everyone or most people know and respect him. He plays the fiddle, is a skilled carpenter, has a wife and two children. But without going into it too much, one day he wakes up in a dark room where he is chained to the floor and beaten badly. Shipped, sold, disrespected, beaten, abused and renamed, Solomon goes through a great deal with his slave owners throughout the film. However, just when you think he is having a hard time, Patsey's (Lapita Nyong'o) story is the one which drew tears to my eyes.
This film, while a lot of people may argue the events in the film were too harsh or too much to handle, I can only say, I am pretty sure these events were watered down. I do compare the brutality of Django infused with this film would possibly give you the closest we would get to an on screen display of how events were for slaves, but until that happens, 12 Years does a fine job and Steve McQueen should get all the respect and props he deserves. Random hanging, slaves being stabbed, shot or keeling over from heatstroke, it's all there. The film is very engrossing, entertaining and visually stunning. There are moments in the film where the visuals are captivating. At times, I thought to myself, "this is a beautiful film", with all it's colours, shades and imagery. Very artistic. The screenplay, acting and camera angles were all top notch. High performances from everyone involved in the film. Cumberbatch, relatively new to me but I'm starting to like what he turns out and Fassbender, forever growing with greater performances in almost every movie. Even Rhino (Spider-Man joke) Paul Giamatti, did pretty well and possibly, I might start to like him more as an actor, but the best acting throughout the entirety of this film goes out to Chiwetel Ejiofor. A very underrated actor with extraordinary talent which I hope does not go overlooked.
I've said before, if you don't feel some kind of way after watching Django, then you must feel some sort of way after watching 12 years, or something is terribly wrong. Also, if you feel Django Unchained was a mockery of a film which was advertised as a film about slavery, then you need to see this film. This film is an amazing film where the director had a great vision in his head and was able to bring it across in the film and made you enjoy the film for numerous reasons, if it wasn't just for one thing, it was for another. Bring your towel/tissue and be prepared to be sadden, shed a tear or even cry. I think, what hurts more regarding this film, is the time in which all of this has happened in our history. 1841, although seems like it was a lifetime away, it really wasn't. This film was a great film and very much worth the watch.