It’s almost besides the point to say that 12 Years a Slave, which began playing at the Avon on Friday, is a great movie. Of course it’s a great movie. It’s technically polished, well-acted by all involved–Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender, primarily, with brief appearances by everyone from Brad Pitt to The Wire‘s Michael K. Williams –and well-managed, if a bit self-consciously, by director Steve McQueen (not the guy from the 70s car chase movies). But this is beyond a great movie: it’s a statement, with enough sheer power to transcend its medium and become something far more important.
A lot has already been written about 12 Years a Slave‘s cultural significance, including this Washington Post article that quotes African Studies professor Tricia Rose and this Grantland column that is near as long as War and Peace. I can’t speak to the kinds of issues those pieces bring up. I’m not well-read or well-learned or well-cultured enough to be articulate about the broader relevance of the film in the context of American race relations or in the context of American filmmaking.
Here’s what I do know: [Read more →]