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A harrowing true story about a freeman forced into slavery in the old south

FIlm poster
Fox Searchlight Pictures

12 Years a Slave (movie)


12 Years a Slave is a brutal yet fascinating film adaptation of the memoirs of Solomon Northup and his life as a slave in the 1840's south. The film follows the life of Solomon Northup, a freeman living in Saratoga Springs, New York as a skilled tradesman and accomplished fiddler. One day he's offered a lucrative offer to perform as part of a traveling circus and show by two strangers. The next evening he's wined and dined and blacks out. He awakens in chains and founds out his been enslaved and is smuggled into the deep south, renamed "Platt" and labeled a caught runaway.

During the duration of the movie, we follow Northrop as witnesses and experiences the horrors of slavery. Despite the brutal treatment and being browbeaten, he endures everything to once again became a free man. Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers a remarkable performance as Solomon Northrup who enduring human condition pushes him to the limit madness and being a broken spirit. Lupita Nyong'o's performance as the slave Patsey is heartbreaking. She gives a depth to her character that shows why she won an Academy Award for her role. Michael Fassbender nearly steals the film in his role of Edwin Epps, a morally corrupt individual whose depravity knows no bounds.

I was also impressed by the direction of Steve McQueen. The flow of the movie, the way it's structured by brilliant use of editing and cinematography made for a breathtakingly visual treat. "12 Years a Slave" deserved its Academy Award and I hope to see more films from the director McQueen, Chiwetel Ejiofor and the lovely Lupita Nyong'o. I also recommend the original book that this film was based on. The true story is even more sadder and depressing than the movie.