A monologue I presented during English class. I am aware that it may be poor in quality so I apologize if that causes you any inconvenience.
Miss French's insight:
This is a great example of a monologue used for assessment (in the USA). Watch and notice how she uncovers the characters feelings, not as they were written. This requires a great deal of imagination! Hence, imaginative monologue.
Dir: Steve McQueen. Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard, Adepero Oduye, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson
Slavery often gets debated by wig-wearing white folk in the movies – as if there's any debate to be had – but when has it ever been truly *shown*? When have we had to confront, as we surely must, the raw experience of it, the hell of it, the brutality, indignity and rage? Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave, which just premiered in Toronto, supplies all of the above in shattering doses, but it's the nobility of this remarkable film that pierces the soul.
Hunger and Shame, McQueen's previous features, were about their own forms of enslavement – behind literal prison bars in one case; inside the jail of one man's libido in the other. In different, often brilliant ways, they prized sensation over story, and tended to flaunt McQueen's skills as a visual thinker over political or social engagement. This isn't a bad thing: they were harrowing, show-offy art. But here he takes an evolutionary step. He swallows his pride.
12 Years A Slave, adapted from the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, elicits from McQueen a directing job that's compellingly humble but also majestic, because his radical showmanship is turned to such precise, human purposes. When he does audacious things with the camera, such as shooting the film's most singularly horrendous flogging in one unbroken shot, the content of the scene is so intense and paramount that the technique is only there to serve it. This scene, a bloody apex in the film's hard-driving commitment to make us feel, has an impact so pitiless it leaves you shaken, and derives its sternest force from the fact that Northup (a surely Oscar-bound Chiwetel Ejiofor) isn't even on the receiving end of the lash. He's the one being forced to wield it.
Northup, whose book is a vital record of this morally corrupt era, was a free man from Saratoga, New York, who had the awful fortune to be abducted and separated from his family in 1841. His story provides McQueen with an extraordinary conduit to audience empathy, and he doesn't waste this, or place his filmmaking above it at any stage. He works in quick, impressionistic slivers. Northup's first owner, played by a cowed and intelligent Benedict Cumberbatch, actually listens to what he has to say, which isn't the case with Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), a tyrant, rapist and drunk whose favourite game is dragging all of his slaves out of bed and making them dance a midnight jig in his drawing room.
Fassbender's portrait of this rotten plantation owner – whose cotton is attacked by pests in what he's convinced is God's doing – is one of his most chilling creations, because there's no inveterate malice in the man, just a reckless, proprietorial indifference which has clawed away his moral sanity. He represents ownership in its most hellbent form. The situation of Patsey (Lupita Nyong'o), his most adept cotton-picker, lures her to the calm brink of suicide: he's sexually obsessed with her, to a degree that makes his wife (a truly malicious Sarah Paulson) want her scratched out, expelled.
The scorching, intrepid Nyong'o is one of the film's miracles. McQueen gets devastating work, too, from Adepero Oduye (Pariah) as Eliza, ripped from her two children and sold by a garrulous trader (Paul Giamatti) to Cumberbatch's estate, where grief eats her alive. The mistress of the house (Liza J. Bennett) seems sympathetic upon her arrival: "Something to eat and some rest – your children will soon be forgotten," she says reassuringly, in a line that draws appalled laughter.
Even the smallest roles – Alfre Woodard's one stellar scene as an ex-slave comfortably ensconced in her master's favour, Brad Pitt's pair of them as a proponent of emancipation from Canada – give the movie new angles from which to survey the culture it's revisiting, a life of such daily abuse and iniquity that nature itself seems out of joint. McQueen's regular collaborators, especially cinematographer Sean Bobbitt and editor Joe Walker, help him keep ruthless focus without sentimentalising in the slightest, and find glimpses of terrible beauty in this inferno which never feel over-aestheticised. The embers of a burnt parchment winnow down to orange pinpricks swallowed by the dark, as Hans Zimmer's grave score – perhaps his most emotive since The Thin Red Line, but far more primal – whispers a dirge.
It may be hard to look at a cypress tree ever again without recalling the sequence where Northup, having briefly gained the upper hand over a vicious overseer (Paul Dano), is strung from a bough and hangs there for the best part of a day, while everyone on Cumberbatch's estate turns a blind eye. Amid moments of compassion, McQueen finds huge failings of solidarity among the slaves, very few of whom have the advantages of education Northup enjoyed. The director isn't importing a retrospective political sensibility into this, except to the degree that his protagonist and chief witness is ahead of his time, sees more, and understands more.
Ejiofor's gifts have never had this sustained or deserving a showcase, but it's part of their magic that he refuses to make it feel like one. He's in every scene of the film, sometimes in the background, sometimes in tight close-up, sometimes out of the frame but listening, head down. In his astonishingly absorbent performance, Northup is the sum of these experiences, and somehow, impossibly, it's a positive sum – his humanity, seared in this crucible, only gets larger. McQueen and Bobbitt find nothing more communicative than his eyes, deep pools of unplumbable longing – if you look at them for long enough, your own start to swim. It's the performance of his career, the film of his director's, and a must-brave experience whose justifiable collection of every film award going begins right here.
Students, well worth a read if you would like an insight into how written autobiographies are adapted into film. Think about how the film makers may have portrayed the characters in order to sway the audience.
A monologue is a creative piece of drama and comes in handy for an actor or any project work. It's a simple process in which someone can explain to an audience a dilemma that a character you're portraying may be experiencing.
Miss French's insight:
Here is a 'step-by-step' or 'how-to' for a basic monologue. This may help!
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