I know full well that I’m a total weeper. When something is emotional in a movie or a book, the floodgates just open and I cry like a baby. But to be fair, 12 Years A Slave had plenty of scope to make even the most cold-hearted person squirm.
Based on the eponymous autobiography by Solomon Northup, the movie follows Solomon, beautifully portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, as he goes from being a free man in Pre-Civil War America and living with his wife and children, to being kidnapped and sold into slavery. Bought by a “decent” slave-owner, Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), Solomon gets his first taste of manual labour and captivity.
But an unfortunate altercation with one of Ford’s employees leads to Solomon being sold on to Edwin Epps (a chilling Michael Fassbender), the cruellest and most terrifying slave-owner. Forced to stand-by as fellow slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) becomes Epps’ weird obsession, the best cotton-picker on the plantation and his go-to woman for pleasure; as well as hiding his intelligence and biding his time in order to escape, Solomon slowly understands that his life will never be the same.
Steve McQueen once again offers a powerful take on a true aspect of life, highlighting the US’ gruelling past with slavery and, much like movies focused on the holocaust (think Schindler’s List, La Rafle, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas etc.), it will bring out an element of shame and guilt. Mainly the gnawing sensation that you, just like the people depicted on the screen, are human, and therefore prone to violent and irrational behaviour.
A must-see in this Oscar season, especially for hard-core Steve McQueen fans, as well as history fanatics.
Pictures from: aceshowbiz.com, hollywoodreporter.com, guim.co.uk, thefilmexperience.net