12 Years a Slave Is Emotionally Wrenching yet Stunningly Beautiful

15 Nov

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12 Years a Slave is about Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, a free black man living in Washington in 1841. He has a lovely wife and kids and they are pretty well off judging by their fancy clothes and the mad respect they elicit from a lot of townspeople. One night Solomon kidnapped and sold into slavery. This isn’t a spoiler because based on the title…how did you think he was going to end up being a slave? The first place Solomon ends up is on a sugar cane plantation with an owner who isn’t horribly mean as far as slave owners go. (The plantation owner is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, by the way, who is AMAZING in all things and ways but especially in this.) However, due to unfortunate circumstance, he ends up at another plantation run by Micheal Fassbender’s character Edwin Epps and he REEKS of crazy. And  cruelty. And his wife is bonkeroos too. 

So this movie has a lot of fascinating themes in it, especially about humanity, and what it means to be human. The fragility and vulnerability of humans is emphasized to great effect in almost every scene. Solomon learns to survive, to adapt, to find hope where there is none. I’ve never seen another movie that tells the honest story of what it meant to be a slave, to be less than a person, like this film does. This story is so personal, so accessible that it draws you in with quiet moments of reflection as well as moments of unspeakable horror. Even though this movie is emotionally very challenging, it is also extremely beautiful. Director Steve McQueen has captured all the richness, the colour, the thriving life of the south. However the beauty extends even past the visual; it is a beautiful story that encompasses all the evil that a man can endure, and shows that parallel to the strength, the endurance and undying spirit a man can exercise in the face of such unimaginable circumstances. 

Chiwetel Ejiofor will certainly be nominated for an Oscar, as while as Fassbender and McQueen for Direction. We will also undoubtably see this in the Best Picture category. Don’t hesitate to see this movie. Don’t hesitate to let it take you to the dark places. You won’t regret it in the end. 

 

 

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