Tuesday 28 January 2014

12 Years A Slave

I have an announcement. My friend and fellow blogger Bella Tubbs has challenged me to see all the films nominated for Best Picture before the Oscars. Nervously, I have accepted to do my best! With 34 days until the big night I've got four down and five to go, and what a list it is. High up in my current ranking was my cinema pick for last night; Steve McQueen's masterpiece, 12 Years A Slave.

Based on the unimaginable true story, the film tells of Solomon Northup, a New Yorker and freeman who lived a very successful and happy life with his wife and two children in the 1840s. That was until 1841, when he made a trip to Washington with two companions who offered him an opportunity to work as a violinist. In fact, his fellow travellers kidnapped and drugged Northup and, like far too many people of the time, sold him into slavery. Without his papers and with no way of contacting his friends and family in New York, Solomon was sent to the south where, struggling daily to survive, he remained for twelve whole years.

Apart from being an active member of the abolitionist movement and publishing a book of the same name in 1853, very little is known of Solomon Northup - even more reason why this film is so important. It paints a hideous picture of a brutal past, which I find hard to believe was a reality only 150 years ago.

Like I said in my review of August : Osage County, here's to the British actors (yes, for the sake of this blog I am claiming Fassbender!), who are the top three billed cast members in this film. How incredible is Chiwetel Ejiotor? From small TV and theatre beginnings to this potentially award winning performance. Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender play landowners who both own Northup at a time. William Ford (Cumberbatch) is caring, understanding, and true to his honour, whereas Edwin Epps (Fassbender) is everything but. I hope both men have their performances recognised, and a little something for the mantelpiece too...

There are many more recognisable faces in the film, including Paul Giamatti, Paul Danone, Sarah Paulson and a certain producer, Mr Brad Pitt. In her Hollywood debut, Lupita Nyong'o plays another of Epps' slaves, Patsy, and trust me, her performance will make your heart bleed. I know I've recently praised Julia Roberts but interestingly, Nyong'o is also up for Best Supporting Actress...

It's gritty and at times hard to watch, and be prepared with your hanky for the end. 12 Years A Slave - a landmark film of 2014.




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