12 Years a Slave explains the captivity of Solomon Northup
It's the movie everybody is talking about. It has been hailed as one of the strongest contestants at the 2014 Oscars along with other movies such as American Hustle and Gravity. The film has been received lots of praise, and it is already considered to be the definitive work on the subject. However, the many graphic scenes of violence in the film have caused lots of controversy and debate.
British director Steve McQueen has created a successful film about slavery where other famous directors such as Steven Spielberg notably failed. Similar to Spielberg’s Amistad, 12 Years a Slave is based on a true story but that’s where the similarities end. 12 Years a Slave tells the shocking true story of free black man Solomon Northup, who allegedly was drugged, kidnapped and eventually sold into slavery in America. McQueen painstakingly recreated the feel and look of America in the 1800’s in order to deliver a realistic vibe that accurately reflects the period.
The film is heavily based on a book of the same name, written by none other than Solomon himself after he managed to escape the life of slavery and has won massive acclaim its accurate and brutal depiction of slavery. Solomon was actually a free man living in New York in 1841, where slavery was outlawed. It is this perspective that makes the story extremely interesting and intriguing to the audiences. Most films that have dealt with the topic of slavery usually focus on people that where born into a life of slavery. 12 Years a Slave provides a fascinating twist by showing us a different perspective. It is probably because of this fact that viewers have been able to connect and feel empathy with the main protagonist of the story.
The film stars British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon, a working musician. Solomon tells the story of how in 1841, when he was in his early 30’s, he was tricked into leaving behind his wife and two young daughters in Saratoga Springs, New York, by a couple of white men who made him an interesting job proposal. But once they get to Washington DC, they drugged him and sold him into slavery. Despite having proof of showing he was a free man, Solomon was whipped and tortured by his new “owner”.
Despite the controversial theme and explicit scenes, the film is not hard to watch. It does what a great film does best: take you into an extraordinary journey that you won’t be forgetting any time soon.