12 Years a Slave: A DJ Josh Review


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Let me start off by saying I am in no way a film buff in any big way. I mean, I haven’t even seen Back to The Future (don’t kill me please internet). However, I have seen enough to know when a film is good or bad, and oh boy is 12 Years a Slave good. It is so good that I honestly have no problem with saying that if you have not seen it you need to fix that as soon as you possibly can. However, don’t go rushing in expecting a nice and comfortable experience because you will not find it here. Without spoiling too many of the details (although it’s not like the source material is new), let’s dive in with a plot synopsis.

12-years-a-slave212 Years a Slave is based off of the memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Soloman Northop. Set in the in the Pre-Civil War era, it tells how Soloman (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) was kidnapped from his home in New York where he lived as a free man and was sold into slavery in the South. After getting into trouble at the first plantation he finds himself in, he eventually comes to the plantation of Edwin Epps (played by Michael Fassbender) where he spends the majority of the film. Here he tries to survive while keeping what he can of his dignity. In the 12th year of his slavery he meets a Canadian abolitionist (played by Brad Pitt) and sees the potential to change his situation.

Although it has a captivating story, the thing I remember more than anything else about this film is how uncomfortable it made me. As I said above,twelve-years-a-slave08 if you go into this expecting to be a comfortable and passive observer to the film’s events you are going to be surprised. Instead of moving on quickly from scene to scene as we are used to, 12 Years a Slave keeps you rooted in certain scenes for much longer than expected. The most powerful moments (for me at least) come from scenes in which there is something horrible happening and the camera does not cut away. Instead it stays for much longer than we are comfortable with until it seems that we are not simply viewing the events but that we are there witnessing them. In an interview on Fresh Air from WHYY, director Steve McQueen says this is to not let the viewers “off the hook” and to make them feel “present”.

All in all, 12 Years a Slave is an absolutely fantastic movie and one which I believe everyone should watch. However, go into it knowing that it will be an uncomfortable but ultimately important experience.

Joshua Beeman (DJ Josh) is a newer  DJ on KSSU.com and is just wrapping up his first semester in the station. If you enjoyed this review, leave a comment below. And be sure to listen in to Just Joshing You, Thursday mornings at 9am

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