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“Nomadland”: The Film to Beat at the Oscars This Year
Watching last year’s Oscars ceremony, I was as stunned as director Bong Joon-ho when his film Parasite won four Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture. It wasn’t because I didn’t feel Parasite was one of 2019’s best movies — but precisely because the Oscars sometimes have the habit of not awarding the best movies. (The previous year, Green Book had won Best Picture amid controversy and despite superior film nominees like Black Panther , BlacKkKlansman , Bohemian Rhapsody , The Favourite, and Roma .)
This year the movie to beat at the Oscars is Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland — especially now that it’s been nominated for six Academy Awards . And that’s not to mention that the film was awarded four BAFTAs, including Best Film and Best Director, and Zhao also won at the Directors Guild of America Awards. Written, directed, produced and edited by Zhao ( The Rider ), the film is also produced by actress and star Frances McDormand. The two-time Academy Award-winning actress had bought the film rights to the non-fiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century , along with producer Peter Spears ( Call Me by Your Name ). After catching a screening of The Rider at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 2017, McDormand realized Zhao was the ideal director for this project.
Nomadland , available to stream on Hulu , is a neo-western set in 2011 that follows Fern (McDormand), a 61-year-old woman forced to leave her home in Empire, Nevada, after the town is decimated by the Great Recession. Fern becomes a modern-day nomad, living out of her van. She works seasonal jobs at an Amazon fulfillment center, a sugar beet harvesting farm, a cafeteria, a gift shop, and in a National Park. The movie and Fern take the viewer from the Badlands in South Dakota to Western Nebraska, and from Yuma, Arizona to the rugged coast of Mendocino County in California.
Nomadland’s Balancing Act of Mixing Reality and Fiction
At a virtual press conference to promote Nomadland on January 29, 2020, Zhao explained her approach to the neo-realism captured in the film. “It was a very organic collage, both in casting and the location. Thirty percent of that came out of the book. Thirty percent came out of just being out there and discovering. And the other thirty percent came out of the lives of our cast, both professional and non-professional.”
Like in her previous films — Songs My Brothers Taught Me and The Rider — Zhao worked on Nomadland with an array of non-professional actors playing a version of themselves. Professional actors, like McDormand and David Strathairn, performed alongside real-life nomads Swankie and Linda May.
“There are very few who could do what she did,” said Zhao about McDormand’s work in Nomadland . “We take it for granted, that she just shows up on set and just does it. She’s not afraid to make a fool of herself […]. She’s definitely compassionate enough to allow her vulnerability to show on camera. No actress will allow you in like that. And the camera is so sensitive to that stuff, the camera will know a lie. [The camera knows] if an actor is doing his or her thing and not connecting with another human being, especially if you sit across from a non-professional actor.”
To fit in more with Nomadland ‘s world and real-life people, McDormand worked with Zhao to bring some elements of her life to the character. The actress suggested crafts and brought a bag of potholder loops to the set. She made about 75 potholders during production as gifts for people on the road and on Nomadland’s crew. Some potholders also ended up as props in the movie, as did a set of dishes gifted to McDormand by her dad when she graduated from college. The dishes are prominently featured in the film.
Another aspect of Nomadland ‘s realism is its portrayal of Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR). An annual gathering of nomads in the Arizona desert organized by Bob Wells , RTR “offer[s] an alternative lifestyle in alternative housing.” Wells is another one of the non-professional actors in the film and RTR makes an appearance as well.
Nomadland ‘s team recreated the nomadic assemblage by contacting people who had attended the first RTR’s in 2011, which, Wells estimates, had around 45 participants. In contrast, 2019’s RTR had 8,000-10,000 participants. Nomadland ‘s production team asked the nomad attendees of the 2011 gathering to send them pictures. Some of those people ended up in the film, along with their vehicles.
You’ll Keep Hearing the Name Chloé Zhao
Zhao is grateful the COVID-19 pandemic caught her while she was already done shooting Nomadland . “You have no excuse to miss your deadlines,” joked the director, referencing how it was to edit her movie during the pandemic. “I was very blessed to have that job while that was happening, it would have been so much worse if it was writing. Because I feel more at home editing than directing. This is my limitation, this is the footage I have. It’s just about problem-solving every day.”
The filmmaker, who was born in Beijing, China, but has been living in the US since 2000 , is based in Ojai, California. She shares a house with her two dogs, three chickens, and partner, frequent collaborator and cinematographer Joshua James Richards. Zhao made history by becoming the first Asian woman to be nominated for an Oscar as a director for her work in Nomadland .
The movie is also a favorite Academy Awards contender in the Best Picture and Best Actress categories, where it grabbed McDormand a sixth nomination as a performer. Richards has also received a Best Cinematography nomination.
But even if Zhao and her film don’t win big at the upcoming Oscars ceremony, you can expect to keep hearing her name. The filmmaker has also directed Marvel’s tentpole Eternals , set to be released November 5, 2021. Eternals ‘ star-packed cast includes Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kit Harington and Kumail Nanjiani — and it has a reported budget of $200 million . Quite the contrast compared to Nomadland ‘s mid-seven-figure price tag . It’ll certainly show us a different side of Zhao as a filmmaker.
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17 Movies Like 12 Years a Slave (2013)
1 Malcolm X (1992) ★ 7.7
Similar to 12 Years a Slave (2013)?
2 The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019) ★ 7.6
3 Hidden Figures (2016) ★ 7.8
4 Hotel Rwanda (2004) ★ 8.1
Like 12 Years a Slave (2013) film?
5 Schindler's List (1993) ★ 9.0
6 Men of Honor (2000) ★ 7.2
The film is based on the true story of the legendary diver Carl Brashear. His mentor and senior officer Bill Sunday is convinced that blacks have no business in the Navy, and in the most cruel and inhumane ways bullies and "screws" the ambitious newcomer.
However, he does not succeed, and moreover, he soon begins to feel sympathy for this extremely stubborn guy, who would rather die than show weakness. Together they try to resist the bureaucrats of the Navy Command, who are not happy with the hero's skin color.
7 The Birth of a Nation (2016) ★ 6.5
8 Spotlight (2015) ★ 8.1
9 Dallas Buyers Club (2013) ★ 8.0
10 Fences (2016) ★ 7.2
A former baseball player of African-American descent, now picking up trash from the streets of Pittsburgh, struggles to provide for his family in 1950s America, where the racial question is still an open one.
11 Django Unchained (2012) ★ 8.4
12 The Help (2011) ★ 8.1
13 American Hustle (2013) ★ 7.2
14 Belle (2013) ★ 7.3
15 Harriet (2019) ★ 6.6
Is Harriet (2019) similar to 12 Years a Slave (2013) film?
Harriet (2019) is on #15 spot of movies related to 12 Years a Slave (2013). Harriet (2019) was released in 2019, made by Kasi Lemmons and has average rating 6.6 in 2022. Main stars of the Harriet (2019) film are: Cynthia Erivo , Janelle Monáe , Leslie Odom Jr. .
16 Amistad (1997) ★ 7.3
Is Amistad (1997) similar to 12 Years a Slave (2013) film?
Amistad (1997) film was made by . Main stars of the movie: Djimon Hounsou , Matthew McConaughey , Anthony Hopkins . You can find Amistad (1997) in the the next genre categories: Biography , Drama , History and Amistad (1997) has average rating 7.3, according to Screench user votes.
17 Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013) ★ 7.2
Is Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013) similar to 12 Years a Slave (2013) film?
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20 best movies like 12 Years a Slave (2013)
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Movies like 12 Years a Slave
12 years a slave.
If you like 12 Years a Slave, you might also like Icon Productions Films, 2010s English-language Films, Films Directed By Steve Mcqueen, and British Independent Films.
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12 Years A Slave Similar Movies
Title: Exploring Similar Movies to 12 Years A Slave: A Glimpse into History’s Painful Past
Introduction: 12 Years A Slave, directed by Steve McQueen, is a powerful and emotionally charged film that depicts the brutal reality of slavery in the United States during the 19th century. The movie, based on the memoir by Solomon Northup, captivated audiences worldwide and shed light on the harrowing experiences endured by millions of enslaved individuals. In this article, we will delve into similar movies that tackle the theme of slavery, offering a poignant glimpse into history’s painful past. Additionally, we will explore five unique facts associated with 12 Years A Slave and conclude with frequently asked questions related to this remarkable film.
Similar Movies to 12 Years A Slave:
1. Roots (1977): This iconic miniseries, based on Alex Haley’s novel, traces the lineage of an African man, Kunta Kinte, who was captured and sold into slavery in America. Roots chronicles the struggles faced by generations of his descendants, reflecting the lasting impact of slavery.
2. Django Unchained (2012): Directed by Quentin Tarantino, this fictionalized Western drama follows the journey of a freed slave, Django, who joins forces with a bounty hunter to rescue his wife from a ruthless plantation owner. The film combines compelling storytelling with Tarantino’s signature style.
3. Amistad (1997): Based on a true story, Amistad recounts the 1839 revolt on board the Spanish ship La Amistad, where a group of enslaved Africans took control of the vessel. The subsequent legal battle to determine their fate serves as a gripping exploration of the fight for freedom.
4. The Color Purple (1985): Directed by Steven Spielberg, this adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel portrays the life of Celie, an African-American woman in the early 20th century who endures abuse and oppression. The film highlights the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
5. Belle (2013): Inspired by a true story, Belle tells the tale of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed-race woman raised as an aristocrat in 18th-century England. The film explores themes of racism, identity, and social class, shedding light on the complexities of slavery’s impact on society.
Unique Facts about 12 Years A Slave:
1. Solomon Northup’s memoir: 12 Years A Slave is an adaptation of Solomon Northup’s memoir of the same name. Northup, a free black man, was kidnapped and sold into slavery, spending 12 years in captivity before regaining his freedom. The film remains a testament to his incredible resilience and fortitude.
2. Historical accuracy: Director Steve McQueen and the cast strived for historical accuracy, consulting with historians and descendants of those depicted in the film. This commitment to authenticity enhances the film’s impact, ensuring an honest portrayal of the era.
3. Oscar-winning recognition: 12 Years A Slave received critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o’s outstanding performance.
4. The emotional toll: The cast, including Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, immersed themselves in their roles, resulting in emotionally charged performances. The intensity of the film’s subject matter took a toll on both the actors and the crew during production.
5. Educational impact: 12 Years A Slave sparked important conversations about slavery, racism, and the lingering effects of historical injustices. Its release prompted educational initiatives and public discussions about the importance of acknowledging and understanding the painful chapters of history.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Is 12 Years A Slave based on a true story? Yes, the movie is based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and enslaved for 12 years before regaining his freedom.
2. Why is 12 Years A Slave significant? The film provides a realistic portrayal of the horrors of slavery and raises awareness about the atrocities committed during this dark period in history.
3. Are there any other movies that depict slavery? Yes, movies like Roots, Django Unchained, Amistad, The Color Purple, and Belle also explore the theme of slavery from various perspectives.
4. Is 12 Years A Slave suitable for all audiences? Due to its graphic scenes depicting violence, 12 Years A Slave is recommended for mature audiences.
5. What impact did 12 Years A Slave have on society? The film created a platform for important discussions about race, history, and social justice, inspiring educational initiatives and greater awareness of the lasting effects of slavery.
6. Is 12 Years A Slave available on streaming platforms? Yes, the film is available on various streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.
7. Did 12 Years A Slave win any awards? Yes, the film won several prestigious awards, including three Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA.
8. How does 12 Years A Slave compare to the book? While the film captures the essence of Solomon Northup’s memoir, it condenses and adapts the story for a cinematic experience.
9. What makes 12 Years A Slave stand out from other slavery-themed movies? The film’s raw and unflinching portrayal of the horrors of slavery, coupled with exceptional performances and historical accuracy, distinguishes it from other films in the genre.
10. Can 12 Years A Slave be used as an educational tool? Yes, the film serves as a powerful educational resource, providing a window into the realities of slavery and promoting dialogue on racial injustice.
11. Is 12 Years A Slave suitable for younger audiences? The film’s graphic content may be distressing for younger viewers, so parental discretion is advised.
12. What is the significance of the title, 12 Years A Slave? The title refers to the duration of Solomon Northup’s enslavement, highlighting the unimaginable hardships he endured during that time.
13. Did the film accurately depict the experiences of enslaved individuals? While individual experiences varied, the film portrays the systemic cruelty and dehumanization prevalent during the era of slavery.
14. Are there any uplifting moments in 12 Years A Slave? While the film depicts the brutal realities of slavery, it also highlights moments of resilience, solidarity, and hope.
15. What can viewers take away from 12 Years A Slave? The film invites viewers to confront the painful legacy of slavery, fostering empathy and understanding while emphasizing the importance of social justice.
Conclusion: Movies like 12 Years A Slave provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the complexities of our shared history and the ongoing struggle for justice. Through gripping narratives and powerful performances, these films shed light on the painful realities of slavery and its enduring impact. As we continue to explore and learn from these stories, we honor the voices of the past and strive for a more equitable future.
Laura is a seasoned wordsmith and pop culture connoisseur with a passion for all things literary and cinematic. Her insightful commentary on books, movies, and the glitzy world of film industry celebrities has captivated audiences worldwide. With a knack for blending literary analysis and movie magic, Laura's unique perspective offers a fresh take on the entertainment landscape. Whether delving into the depths of a novel or dissecting the latest blockbuster, her expertise shines through, making her a go-to source for all things book and film-related.
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10 best movies like emancipation.
Those who enjoyed the 2022 movie Emancipation will find a number of similar movies to watch, including Harriet and Moonlight.
The new movie Emancipation , starring Will Smith and streaming on Apple TV+, is a searing historical drama. Among other things, it brings to life, in raw, visceral detail, the horrors of American slavery and its terrible impact on the minds and bodies of those caught in its grip.
At the same time, it is also a story about survival, anchored as it is by a potent performance from Will Smith. It joins the ranks of a number of other similar movies, many of which help to illuminate this horrible time.
Django Unchained (2012)
Stream on prime video.
For many, Django Unchained is one of Quentin Tarantino’s best movies. Filled with violence and featuring his distinctive style, it is anchored by a career-best performance by Jamie Foxx.
Related: The Most Dangerous Character In Every Tarantino Movie
Of course, the movie doesn’t shy away from the brutality of slavery and its impact on the human spirit. However, it uses the conventions of the spaghetti western to imagine a scenario in which a slave is at last able to get revenge on those who made his life such a misery and were responsible for separating him from his wife.
12 Years A Slave (2013)
Stream on hbo max.
Like Emancipation, 12 Years a Slave is a film about both the horrors of slavery and about the unquenchable nature of the human spirit. What makes it particularly affecting is that it focuses on a free African American man who, after being kidnapped in New York, is sold into slavery.
The fact that it is based on a true story gives it a raw, emotional authenticity. And, while it doesn’t shy away from showing just how cruel slavery was, it also gives its main character a happy ending. It’s no wonder that, for many, it remains one of the best movies of the 2010s.
Hollywood is filled with many great biopics, and Harriet deserves to be seen as one of these. After all, it depicts the life of Harriet Tubman, one of the most notable figures in the movement to free African Americans from the horrors of slavery.
Like Emancipation and many similar movies, it is grounded in a powerful realism. What’s more, it also features a very powerful performance from Cynthia Erivo, who digs deep to give viewers insight into the soul of this extraordinary woman. What’s more, its propulsive narrative keeps the viewer invested and interested from the first frame to the last.
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
Stream on netflix.
Emancipation is one of those films which will, in future, become necessary viewing for those who want to understand the history of race in America. While set in a more recent part of American history - the 1970s - If Beale Street Could Talk accomplishes something similar, focusing on a young African American man falsely imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit.
It’s a film that manages to be both visually and emotionally evocative, and while it doesn’t shy away from the more sinister side of its story, it also shows the enduring power of love. Its last shot - beautiful and haunting and tragic - is one that will stay with the viewer long after the film ends.
The Birth Of A Nation (2016)
The Birth of a Nation is an extraordinary period drama . Drawing its title from the notoriously racist epic from director DW Griffith, it focuses on the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner, one of the most important of such uprisings in the history of the United States.
Like Emancipation, it is one of those films which features both very strong writing and an electrifying performance from Nate Parker (who also wrote and directed it). Rigorously grounded in history and weaving in a religious message, it is one of those movies which truly sheds light on an important moment in history.
Stream on youtube.
Throughout his career, Steven Spielberg has an almost uncanny ability to move through different genres. With Lincoln , he gives viewers a sweeping and moving portrait of Abraham Lincoln, and it allows for a nuanced understanding of his own contributions to the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.
RELATED: Every Steven Spielberg Movie Ranked From Worst To Best
As is the case with Emancipation, Lincoln is a movie grounded both in rich historical detail and a great performance, in this case one delivered by Daniel Day-Lewis. It is a biopic that doubles as an epic, providing a rich and complex experience of one of the most pivotal moments in American history.
Amistad is arguably one of Steven Spielberg’s best movies . Focusing on a group of slaves who take over the ship transporting them to America, which then precipitates a legal and international crisis. However, the film never loses sight of the profound human story that lies at its heart.
Like Emancipation, the movie highlights the evils of slavery. Also like the newer movie, however, it demonstrates the extraordinary strength so many men and women exhibited as they rebelled against a system that worked so insistently to dehumanize them.
Glory has come to be seen as one of the best movies about the American Civil War. Unlike so many other similar movies, however, it focuses on the vital role that African Americans played in that conflict, particularly in its focus on the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.
Related: 10 Actors With The Most Movies On The IMDb Top 250 List
It features some truly astounding performances, particularly from Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. While it never loses sight of the fact that it is a story about the Civil War, it is in its emphasis on the inner workings of its characters that it truly succeeds, painting them in all of their complicated humanity.
The Woman King (2022)
Stream on vudu.
Since its release, The Woman King has come to be seen as one of Viola Davis’ best roles . She plays the character of Nanisca, one of the formidable female warriors known as the Agojie.
Like Emancipation, it is an evocative and at times brutal movie, but it is remarkable for the way that it pays attention to these powerful women who have gone underrepresented in the movies. What’s more, it manages to combine several different genres–including the epic and the war film–into a compelling whole, one which shows the extraordinary role that women can and do play in the history of nations.
Stream on hulu.
Moonlight is widely seen as one of the best movies of the 2010s . A haunting, beautifully told, and emotionally resonant story about one young African American man’s struggle with his sexuality and with acceptance, it remains a testament to the power of cinema to tell LGBTQ+ stories.
Like Emancipation, it can be at times difficult to watch, particularly as Chiron has to deal with the violence of his world. At the same time, there is also a fundamental optimism at the heart of the film, and it repeatedly emphasizes the vital importance of human connection.
MORE: The 10 Most Popular Apple TV+ Original Movies, According To Letterboxd
12 Movies to Watch After You’ve Seen ’12 Years a Slave’
This weekend, the exceptional 12 Years a Slave began its initial expansion into wider release. Currently, the Steve McQueen film is playing in 123 theaters around the country, so a lot of people are just getting the chance to enjoy its brilliant performances and to be horrified by its most powerful scenes. When they exit the cinema, while wiping the tears from their eyes and attempting to rid their throats of the lump that’s been lodged there for at least half an hour, audiences are going to be curious about who Lupita Nyong’o is and where they’ve seen Chiwetel Ejiofor before. They’ll also be interested to know that they’ve just watched a remake, of sorts.
12 Years a Slave still has a ways to go before it reaches the mainstream, Middle America mall crowds. But when it does end up on a few thousand screens and watched by millions more, this guide will be here to recommend past films from the makers and stars of the movie, as well as some other relevant titles worth checking out.
Solomon Northup’s Odyssey
12 Years a Slave is based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, published in 1853, and it shouldn’t be surprising that this isn’t the first movie adapted from the book. Almost 30 years ago, PBS aired a dramatic telling of the same story starring Avery Brooks (of future Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fame) and helmed and scored by Shaft director Gordon Parks . Retitled Half Slave, Have Free for VHS and now sold as Twelve Years a Slave Solomon Northup’s Odyssey on DVD and VOD, it’s not a particularly good movie, but it’s neat to compare with McQueen’s version. See nearly half an hour of the movie below.
Available on Amazon Streaming
If you think a few of the scenes in 12 Years a Slave are difficult to bear, go back and watch McQueen’s feature debut, which remains his best film. Also based on a brutal true story, this movie is about the 1981 hunger strike at Northern Ireland’s HM Prison Maze led by Bobby Sands ( Michael Fassbender , who plays cruel Master Epps in 12 Years a Slave ). I’ve heard people compare the new film to The Passion of Joan of Arc , but the experiential, often close-up and long-take treatment of Sands’ final days is the more apt comparison. We feel the pain of the character in Hunger more than we do Northup’s in 12 Years a Slave . And also, unlike that film, Hunger doesn’t have a happy ending for its hero.
Available on Amazon Streaming (free for Prime members)
12 Years a Slave is the first of McQueen’s features where he didn’t have a part in writing the script. The book was instead adapted by John Ridley , author of the novel Stray Dogs (which was turned into Oliver Stone’s U-Turn ) and co-writer of the films Three Kings and Red Tails . He also created the web series Undercover Brother , which he later co-adapted into a movie. Starring Eddie Griffin, it’s a comedic spy movie inspired by blaxploitation and Bond films. As I’m sure you can imagine, this is a very different sort of movie involving “The Man” oppressing African Americans.
Ejiofor made his theatrical feature film debut in this Steven Spielberg movie depicting an 1831 slave ship mutiny and its subsequent trial. Interestingly enough, he portrayed another free black man during the time of slavery in America, a British sailor named James Covey. It was this real-life character who provided translation of testimonies of some of the mutineers. Ejiofor has a transformation here somewhat similar to that of the new film, with the end showing that he returns to Africa many years after he had been kidnapped from there.
In addition to receiving his first Oscar nomination for 12 Years a Slave , Ejiofor will likely earn his fourth Golden Globe nod for his performance, as well. His first in the Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama category. Two of his previous nominations were for TV movies and the other was for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. This is the comedy in question, and it’s already garnering renewed attention this year thanks to the Tony-winning Broadway musical version that opened this year. Here the actor plays a drag queen who inspires a shoemaker to begin production of women’s footwear in men’s sizes, and while the film is based on a true story his character is a fictional creation.
One more movie featuring Ejiofor, in this Firefly spin-off he plays the main villain. While I’m sure a lot of Browncoats will be happy for its inclusion, I’m mostly only highlighting it because it also features Sarah Paulson , who plays the much-hated Mistress Epps in 12 Years a Slave . The two don’t quite have a scene together, at least not where they’re in the same space. Near the end of the film, Ejiofor’s The Operative is shown a holographic report from Paulson’s Dr. Caron, which leads to his surrender in his fight against the Serenity crew.
Available on Netflix Streaming and Amazon Streaming
In My Genes
Nyong’o makes her feature film acting debut with 12 Years a Slave following appearances in a short film titled East River and a Kenyan TV series called Shuga . But she’s worked in the industry in other roles, including production runner in Kenya for The Constant Gardener , during which she credits Ralph Fiennes as encouraging her to pursue her dream of being on screen. She also directed, wrote, produced and edited this documentary about albino Africans, which was her thesis project at Hampshire College. She also produced a music video for Wahu and Bobby Wine’s “Little Things We Do,” which you can watch here.
Buy the DVD from African Film Festival Inc.
Other critics have called 12 Years a Slave “the Schindler’s List of the black experience.” It is definitely like a Holocaust film for a part of American history, but I’d relate it more to Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning drama about Wladyslaw Szpilman (played by Adrian Brody). I was trying to think of another film that might have paralleled Northup’s abduction and carriage into the South, which to me seemed like the train transports to the concentration camps we see depicted often. There have also been other stories in which, similar to Northup, camp prisoners are given special treatment for being able to perform music. The recent documentary Orchestra of Exiles is one example. The Pianist is another, and we see Szpilman forced to play for a Nazi just as Northup has to play his fiddle for his master. And in another scene, Szpilman is whipped. The comparison to Holocaust films is greater for 12 Years a Slave than for some other slavery narratives because of the way we see Northup’s free life before he’s captured, so it’s a story of someone stripped of his entire social standing and wealth as well as freedom and made to live as an animal in the very land he’s known that freedom in.
There’s been plenty of comparison made between 12 Years a Slave and Django Unchained , mostly for how they’re different. I won’t argue that there’s much similarity in terms of how they’re made or what kind of effect they have. But like McQueen’s film, Quentin Tarantino’s latest is about a man who wants to reunite with his wife. Here, though, he’s the free one and she’s the slave in need of rescue. In any event, Django Unchained is worth watching after 12 Years a Slave so you can fantasize that it’s sort of a sequel in which Northup goes back and takes revenge on the evil plantation owners. Because even though there’s a happy ending in McQueen’s film, there’s a lot of injustice remaining when the credits roll. Also, another connection: J.D. Evermore , who plays plantation supervisor Chapin, can also be seen as one of the Klu Klux Klan in Django Unchained .
Lars von Trier’s sequel to Dogville may not be based on any specific true story, but there is some historical evidence of different kinds of peonage that continued long after the official end of slavery in America. Not unlike Northup becoming a slave after having lived as a free man, the plantation workers in this film are made to be slaves in spite of having been born free in this country. Even without the real situations comparable to von Trier’s fiction, the movie was also simply about how even blacks who became paid employees following the Emancipation Proclamation might as well have still been slaves and how they continued to lack complete equality to whites.
Slavery By Another Name
If Manderlay seems too unreal for you, maybe this documentary will make you think otherwise. Directed by Sam Pollard (Spike Lee’s former editor who shared their Oscar nomination for 4 Little Girls ) and based on the Douglas A. Blackmon book of the same name, it presents a history of corrupt imprisonment and indentured servitude in the South, where thousands of blacks were basically brought back into slavery following the Emancipation Proclamation and up through the early 20th century, mostly by being forced to work in labor camps for as little a “crime” as talking back to a white man.
Available on PBS Streaming
Whatever Taran Killam Stars In 20 Years From Now
Of all the many brief appearances by familiar actors in 12 Years a Slave , Taran Killam is one of the more notable for only initially being a distraction of recognizability. I expected to find him too funny simply because he’s hilarious on Saturday Night Live . But he was pretty straight and serious as one of the theater gentlemen who kidnap and sell off Northup. It made me realize that he’s going to be one talented dramatic actor one day following whatever comedic career he follows SNL immediately with. Killam has actually been acting for at least 20 years, but his minor role in 12 Years a Slave seems to be his first real noteworthy serious part. I give him another 20 years before he’s the lead in something significant, possibly garnering his own Oscar buzz. For now, let’s watch his film debut, at age 12, in the awful Jurassic Park parody in The Naked Gun 33?: The Final Insult :
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12 Years a Slave (2013)
A free black man from New York is sold into slavery.
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