12 Years a Slave

D: Steve McQueen
Fox Searchlight/Regency/River Road (Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Steve McQueen & Anthony Katagas)
US/UK 2013
134 mins


W: John Ridley [based on the book "Twelve Years A Slave" by Solomon Northup]
DP: Sean Bobbitt
Ed: Joe Walker
Mus: Hans Zimmer
PD: Adam Stockhausen
Cos: Patricia Norris

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Solomon Northup), Michael Fassbender (Epps), Benedict Cumberbatch (Ford), Lupita Nyong'o (Patsey), Paul Dano (Tibeats), Paul Giamatti (Freeman), Sarah Paulson (Mrs. Epps), Brad Pitt (Bass), Alfre Woodard (Mistress Shaw)

'Slavery is a tragedy that should befall none.'

12 Years A Slave is a remarkably harrowing and uncomfortable watch based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man living in pre-Civil War New York, abducted from his wife and family and sold into the diabolical slave trade where he spent each day doing all he could to survive.

Director Steve McQueen (no, not that one) isn't afraid to show all the horrific ordeals of forced slavery, mothers separated from their children, 'inferior' workers flogged, whipped and occasionally hung.

Every single performance in this film is fantastic, Chiwetel Ejiofor appears in virtually every scene, mostly as a passive character who witnesses and experiences all the atrocities, but his performance is nevertheless excellent, especially in the closing stages. Lupita Nyony'o thoroughly deserved her Supporting Actress Oscar as Patsey, whom Solomon befriends on a cotton plantation owned by the seething, dictatorial, cynically evil Epps (Michael Fassbender).

Not all the white people are the bad guy though, and some of them even help Solomon to win back his freedom, but these characters are few and far between and even those who do have redeeming qualities simply don't lessen the impact of Solomon's ordeal.

Unsurprisingly, the film was named Best Picture at the 2013 Oscars.


12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave