12 Years A SlaveĀ is a stark depiction of the depravity of slavery in the American South. One motif commonly employed in the movie were prolonged shots of character’s faces, in which the viewer must read them by their expression for what seems like a long time. Another defining quality of the movie is the natural beauty of the setting, contrasted against the horrible things perpetrated by the people living there– shown especially by a shot of Solomon struggling in a noose contrasted against a colorful, sunlit shot of the plantation behind him.