12 Years A Slave: An Unflinching Account of US Slavery

Posted: March 6, 2014


It’s a story you will have no pleasure hearing. A film that holds no punches. 12 Years a Slave portrays a brutally honest account of a free man kidnapped and sold in to slavery. Steve McQueen’s powerful drama is relentless in shaking its audience to the core. There is no happy ending to Solomon Northup’s (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) story; it is a gut wrenching tale that chronicles slavery like no other.

Never before has a movie been this unflinching in accounting the history of America, 12 Years a Slave sets the bar really high, and it will be a long time coming before another film comes close to it. The contrast of the beautiful Louisiana landscape juxtaposed with the lashes and nooses that are part of life on a plantation will do no less than bring a tear to the eye of the most strong willed of humans in this world.

Lupita Nyong'o is phenomenal as Patsey and her pain resonates through the screen; her beauty is superseded by her desperation and her unwilling adulterated innocence. Her recent Academy award for best supporting actress was well deserved and one can only see more accolades in the future. Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) will forever haunt any nightmare you dare to have, his portrayal as the maniacal slave owner can only represent in one’s mind the grief and torture inflicted upon his property.

While this is hard watching it is definitely worth watching, even the supporting performances are five star quality; from the conflicted Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) to the grotesque Tibeats (Paul Dano). Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance will do no harm to his IMDB page and keep him held in high esteem as a mainstay in powerful dramas of its kind.

12 Years a Slave is only blemished by the presence of actor and producer Brad Pitt. Whilst most will preserve his acting chops in gold, his role comes across as an attempt to Hollywoodise a film that needed no such hindrance.

Nevertheless it’s recent Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay will in no doubt give the film an extended stay in cinemas across the city, and rightly so. If you do see any film this year, 12 Years a Slave should be it.

Thank me later.

Read more by Greg Allman on his blog.