For your consideration: 12 Years a Slave
12 Years A Slave will be a must-see film, not just in 2013, but for many years to come. You can expect this film to be shown in classes and universities from now on, not only for its historic value, but also for its excellence in the art of story telling and filmmaking. Is it brutal? Yes, but much like Schindler’s List, it is a film that opens the uneasy door into history, and as they say, “you don’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’ve been.” Consider this film essential viewing.
12 Year A Slave is a historical drama adapted from the autobiography of Solomon Northup (Chiuwetel Ejiofor), a New York state born free negro who is living a good life with his family, in Saratoga, New York and making his living as carpenter and musician. One afternoon in 1841 Solomon is introduced to two men who claim to be seeking talented people for their traveling performance group. These men make him a lucrative offer, which he accepts over a lavish dinner and many drinks. These men are not what they seem. They drug and kidnap Solomon that night, moving him to Washington D.C. and latter shipping him to New Orleans, where he is bought and sold under the identity of a run away slave named ‘Platt’. Solomon is aware early on that he must keep his education and ‘free man’ status under wraps in order to survive the unfolding nightmare of a life as a slave.
The director Steve McQueen is brilliant in pushing us deep into the character’s experiences. American slavery was brutal on every level, and McQueen puts it all out there for us to absorb. The story telling is epic, as we remain inside Solomon’s head the entire film. Ejiofor as Solomon gave a performance for the ages. Michael Fassbender as the drunken, despicable slave owner, Edwin Epps, literally makes us fearful each time he appears in a scene. Sarah Paulson, who plays Epps’s wife, perfectly portrays a cold, vindictive, jealous, southern lady as evil as her husband, and targets her hatred on ‘Patsey’, played by Lupito Nyong’o. ‘Patsey’ is Master Epps mistress and hardest working slave. Often her scenes are the most difficult to watch and Nyong’o delivers her character with great emotion and impact. The casting throughout the film was spectacular and there were no week links and tons of standout performances. The cinematography was beautiful and extremely memorable. This film is the front-runner for all awards this year and rightfully so.
Rating- 5 stars