Review: 12 Years a Slave

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A beautifully filmed story, gripping from beginning to end.  Director Steve McQueen is master at bringing maximum emotional impact to scenes.  He utilizes symbolism beautifully; the fading coals of a burning letter make us feel the fading hopes of Northup. By setting almost all outdoor scenes on the plantations in spaces hemmed in by trees and large shrubs, he makes us feel trapped as the slaves feel.  Slave owners are cast and directed to appear kindhearted, only to show their callous blindness to the suffering of humanity before them. Betrayal from the kindest faces is so consistent that we begin to feel there is no one to trust — when help finally comes, we’re afraid to trust anymore.  All of the acting is superb.  All Oscars very much deserved, with the only wish left being that the rest of the cast could also have been honored.  Definitely a see-again movie!

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