Tag Archives: slavery

This 40s Movie: Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Yankee Doodle Dandy is from 1942. When I was watching it for The Incomparables podcast, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know some 30s and 40s movies (and I’m anxiously waiting for my randomizer to assign a theme week from that period to me), but I’ve never analyzed them the way I do here. The oldest movie yet was Lawrence of Arabia from 1962 and twenty years is a lot. Anyway, the movie is a biopic about George M. Cohan, who I only realized after the movie, was a real person. It’s somewhat entertaining, without the songs, if you can enjoy the old-fashioned humor and acting. I found it more watchable than 1776, for example, the other movie discussed in that podcast, that I wasn’t able to even finish. It’s enjoyable enough to keep you interested, despite all the things you can expect from a 40s movie. There is not much authenticity to anything as everyone is a “character” and talks as if they’re in the musical of a movie (or the other way around). Some of the direction is noticeable, but nothing jumps at you and the filmmaking is mostly conventional.

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12 Years a Slave (2013)

twelve_years_a_slave_poster(spoilers ahead, even if the movie only has few surprises, since the title tells you most of it, but I will discuss almost every scene of it)

12 Years a Slave is an extremely powerful movie. It doesn’t let you off the hook in showing you what slavery was like. And you have to keep in mind that the protagonist, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was probably better off than the average slave. He had some opportunities because of his education and he didn’t die as a slave. But despite that relatively narrow focus, the movie manages to give a realistic portrayal of slavery. I found the film very impressive, especially the way it was directed by Steve McQueen. I had seen Shame and was impressed by it too but I didn’t feel an emotional connection to it. 12 Years a Slave goes straight to the heart by its sheer force of filmmaking and I appreciate that a lot. Every aspect of the movie – the acting, the music, the script, the cinematography, the editing, the production and costume design, the sound design – is not just a showcase for talent but actually increases the emotional impact of the movie.

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