Camera Techniques In 12 Years A Slave

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‘12 Years a Slave’ is an eye-opening film that displays incredible themes and ideas throughout it. As the movie follows a man named Solomon, who is captured as a slave, the director, Steve Mcqueen uses an array of camera techniques, dialogue and fascinating characters to make these themes come to life. In two particular scenes, the idea that males feel they have the right to use women however they desire attracts the attention of the audience. This is because the female slaves have to endure not only difficult labour tasks for their masters, but also being used as sexual objects frequently.

One of the techniques the director uses in the scene, in which Master Epps is counting up how much cotton each slave has picked, is dialogue. The audience
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The scene begins with a wide shot of all the slaves standing in a line with their heads hung low whilst their master roams freely. This shot is used to give the audience an initial idea of the dominance Epps feels and the haggard nature of the slaves. The director then uses a strategic panning shot of the slave's faces as Epps strides behind them criticizing the males work efforts like a drill sergeant disciplining his soldiers. This shot accompanies his first quote to make him appear intimidating to a greater extent and to radiate the feeling of disdain towards the slaves. Furthermore, as Epps moves on to admire Patsey’s work the director complements this controversial statement concerning Epps owning Patsey by using an uncomfortable two shot of Epps standing behind Patsey. In this shot, he strokes Patsey’s neck. Effectively, this emphasizes the message that Epps sees Patsey as nothing more than a body that he owns despite the distressed look on her face. Accordingly, this particular shot highlights the idea of males in power using women however they desire. The shot does this by outlining the fact that Patsey does not need to reciprocate signs of affection for Epps to touch her body and make suggestive gestures to her as he pleases, as he feels he owns her in every sense and sees her as an object of his pleasure rather than a human…show more content…
Master Epps’ controlling personality jumps out at the audience through these shots. The scene begins with a wide shot of the slaves dancing to show the energetic vibe filling the room as they dance through the night. The viewer watches Mrs. Epps’ anger build as the shot switches to a two-shot of her and Master Epps. As the camera shots transition back forth between the two shots Mrs. Epps stares at Master Epps, her face green with envy. It is clear to the viewer that her jealousy is due to the constant attention Patsey receives. Mrs. Epps reaches her boiling point and makes the anger-ridden statement regarding Patsey’s removal from the property. The camera shot then switches again to another two-shot in which the audience sees Master Epps with an irritatingly smug smirk plastered across his face. Strategically, he places a thumb on Mrs. Epps’ lower lip as he makes the statement about never selling Patsey. Moreover, his body language allows the audience to infer that he manipulates her easily. The idea of men feeling they own women is highlighted in this shot as the audience watches how Master Epps’ uses Mrs. Epps’ love for him against her and with even the most simple touch she is back under his control. Shortly afterward as Master Epps commands for Patsey to be removed from the room Patsey is dragged out of the room by her hair while a wide shot is used

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