Tag Archives: audience reviews

12 Years A Slave – audience reactions


Here is a selection of audience reactions after seeing what some have described as one of the most important movies of the century so far – 12 Years A Slave.

“In my opinion it is a well put together film that covers most of the aspects of the enslavement period, i.e. house, yard and field enslaved African, the good slave master and bad slave master, the transportation, the brutality, the rape, the murder etc. There were also subtle messages played out in the movie and you would have to be in tuned with what is happening in the world today to make those connections.

Because I have studied Trans Atlantic Enslavement and also teach it, the above mentioned aspects of the film we’re very clear and easily recognisable to me, and while the audience were in-tune with the blatant brutality etc, the more subtle aspects I believe went over many of their heads.

To rate this movie I would give it a  8.5 out of 10.”

Mark Simpson



“Film director Steve McQueen has presented such a multi-layer cinematic view of Solomon Northup’s ’12 Years A Slave’ book, that I found myself on second viewing of the film to be overwhelmed with the more subtle touches on show. These were features that were always there to be discovered, but with the sheer terror, violence, and overall inhuman behaviour meted out to Northup and other slaves, such shocking and heart wrenching images dominated one’s thoughts during the first time of watching this film.

A second trip to McQueen’s movie allowed me to fully appreciate the eye-catching quality he brought, the same visual strength that made his name as a world renowned artist with his short film pieces. Using the screen as a canvas, there were shots throughout which resembled a still photograph or indeed a painting. He would leave the camera still and have the characters on screen move very little. One wonderful image was of actor Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup standing in a plantation field, alongside several other male slaves of different ages, both young and old. Instead of quick cutting to close ups, he allows the camera to linger and have the audience take it all in, fully understanding that saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

Another aspect that struck me was inamongst the savage brutality that was the foreground of the story, we were presented with the absolutely beautiful and gorgeous setting of the American south as its backdrop. Shot and photographed in stunning clarity, it served to compound my inner thoughts as I witnessed human beings being destroyed in such attractive surroundings. This was brought to bear with the scene in which Northup, while on a journey for his master comes across some white men just about to lynch two slaves from trees. The most telling moment comes when after being told to continue on his journey, McQueen chooses to show the hanging in the background as Northup goes on his way, never looking back. The slow determined pace of the film allowed all of the characters to communicate strongly with the audience without words. The mere gestures and facial expressions told their stories even louder the second time around. An outstanding effort which needs to be seen more than once by everybody.

Blessings to you sir!  Keep up the great work!!”

Mr. Eon Irving



“I’m really feeling the need to express great concern when we as black people are made to feel that these type of films are great!

Surely we (our ancestors) have been there done it and got the t-shirt! We want to see and hear inspirational films now! Not nigga this, nigga that, white man doing this to us, doing that to us!

I’m finding it quite difficult to understand why all of a sudden these types of films are being made recently, and am sure it’s trying to stir up hatred in us again and even more as they want to label us as savage.

How can we as a nation move on with these types of movies, The Butler, 12 Years Slaves- I dislike them so much- lets move on, please!

I have friends who went to see this awful film who had to walk out! When we go to the cinema it’s so supposed to  fill us with joy and happiness – watch the people’s faces – solemn, unhappy, sad – wow – come on – even if based on a true story – read it! I feel so angry – why would a black person produce this type of film.

I hate it with a passion !

Give us inspirational films- make a film like “Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame” – come on! Let us wake up as a nation. We are such caring, loving people!”

Mandy DaCosta 


To read Kush’s take on the film click here