• Three for three here– McQueen has made superb films, punishing films that are equally depressing and beautiful to look at
  • McQueen uses long takes and duration for affect (the scene of Ejiofor getting flogged, the scene of him hanging on his tip-toes). He makes us uncomfortable. He’s editorializing and it’s powerful
  • Uncompromisingly harsh
  • The comparisons to Spielberg’s Schindler’s List are apt in evaluative quality of horrific events. Spielberg’s film is more sensationalized in the telling but they’re both about true life horrors, they’re both unquestionably films made by artists
  • I think McQueen toes the line beautifully between realism and heading into Terrence Malick territory (both are fine with me when executed) with the gorgeous photography of the wilting Spanish moss. Hans Zimmers score (there’s not much used but what is is good) reminds me of The Thin Red Line though I think Malick’s work is clearly superior. Malick is just more comfortable telling his story whist also blowing us away visually. Perhaps it was a conscious choice by McQueen—this film is beautiful- but it doesn’t dwell. Perhaps he would find that too distracting from the narrative
  • 35mm
  • Strong opening of the men standing, then the camera literally pushing the sea of green in the high cane
  • An abundance of close-ups in the beginning. Violin strings, laying on the bed (nobody better than McQueen doing this)
  • Ejiofor is fantastic- gives us empathy and intelligence
  • First time McQueen has really gone to flashbacks of a past life- he’d use them again of Liam Neeson in Widows
  • Standout sequences- two here- one is of Ejiofor’s hanging- he holds it- it’s also beautifully constructed mise-en-scene as well as speaking to the narrative and themes—the other is of the one-shot flogging of Lupita Nyong’o. this is her debut, she wins the Oscar in this scene alone and it’s dazzling (and of course horrific). It would not have this affect if shot differently.
  • Sweat pouring off realism
  • Characters are so well constructed- Cumberbatch’s character continually looks the other way and Fassbender is mesmerizing- it’s akin to Ralph Fiennes portrayal in Schindler’s List
  • The finale is understated (zigging a little where Spielberg maybe would zag) but it’s an honest and true emotional reunion
  • Must-See film