Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt
Directed by Steve McQueen
This incredibly true story was inspired by the book “12 Years a Slave” written by Solomon Northup, a free black man who was captured and sold into slavery.
Northup (Ejiofor) was taken in the middle of the night, sold by two men he thought he could trust. No longer called by his name, Northup is forced to respond to “Platt”. His skills of playing the fiddle make him worth a lot of money in the South. Northup is told by fellow slaves not to reveal his past or that he is educated, because he’ll end up dead.
For twelve years, Northup must survive and find a way back to his family in New York. The movie does not shy away from the conditions slaves were forced to live in and how they could be taken advantage of by their masters. Northup passes between two owners. Ford (Cumberbatch) is somewhat decent for a slave owner compared to the one we later see. However Ford cannot protect Northup when one of his employees is out to kill Northup.
Ford’s debt is passed on to master Epps (Fassbender), a devout slave owner who shows no mercy. His wife is not any better and treats the slaves in a harsh manor. Here, Northup must reside for the rest of his imprisonment. He bears witness to some of the horrors other slaves face at the plantation, unable to help take away the pain.
“12 Years a Slave” is tough but a must-see movie of the year. Slavery is part of our history and not something easily forgotten, nor that it should be. The harsh realities set upon slaves and free men sold as slaves is cruel. Northup was lucky to have been able to get out of that life when not many could.
How the actors were able to get into character is incredible. It could not be easy, whether playing the role of Northup or Epps. The supporting actors, especially Lupita Nyong’o who played the slave Patsey, were heartbreaking to watch. Patsey lived a pitiful life and while she was a favorite of Epps, she wasn’t treated like it.
Northup’s story is an important one to tell. It’s moving and hard to watch at times but a long journey that must be shared.