12 Years a Slave, a film based on the 1853 memoir of former slave Solomon Northup, has garnered nine Academy Award nominations for its epic yet disturbing portrayal of life as a slave in the South prior to the American Civil War.
Represented by nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Lead Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Production Design, and Writing – Adapted Screenplay, 12 Years a Slave chronicles the life of Solomon Northup, a free man living in the North who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South.
Based upon the memoir written by Northup, the film depicts life in slavery conditions from a slave’s perspective in what may be the most accurate depiction of slavery on film to date. The political environment, the moralistic cultural divide between the North and South, the living and working conditions, and the struggles of individuals living in captivity are all adequately detailed, resulting in a powerful yet disturbing film about a society and culture morally corrupt by greed and ignorance.
Well written and well acted, even though the film is a far cry from a feel good, it offers viewers a conscious look into the past, the opportunity to reflect on society’s current stance on racism and assess how far America needs to go to eradicate racism in the future to avoid the atrocities of the past.