Last night I had the opportunity to watch the award winning film “12 Years a Slave” directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor. McQueen does not hold back or candy coat anything making “12 years a Slave” one of the best films to tackle the subject of slavery in many years. Many people these days like to try and gloss over history or try to ignore it all together and pretend nothing happened. Truth is slavery did happen and it still happens to this very day believe it or not. We do not see it much today only because it is illegal therefore hidden from public view, but back before the American Civil War it was a normal way of life.
Anyways, the movie. “12 Years a Slave” is based on the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free black man living in New York who in 1841 was tricked by two shady individuals and ends up in chains being sold into slavery. He is stripped of his proper name and given the name of Platt. He is first bought by a kindly plantation owner named William Ford, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. The character of William Ford is that of a decent person who is merely a product of the times and society around him. Ford treats his slaves with a bit of kindness, even going so far as to try (unsuccessfully) to not split a mother from her young daughter and bestows a gift of a violin onto Solomon. Eventually, Ford must sell Solomon. Enter Michael Fassbender as the cruel plantation owner Edwin Epps. The man is evil personified and is well played by Fassbender, quite the contrast to Cumberbatch’s character. It is from this point on we really experience the horrors of slavery as Solomon Northrup struggles to keep himself alive and to maintain some of his dignity until the day he can prove the injustice done to him.
This picture has strong graphic imagery well portrayed by all actors involved. You may find yourself with a lump in your throat or deeply horrified, or both. In either case you will be moved. Cinematography and scenery both excellent, really putting you into the story.
9 out of 10 on this one.