I’ll never know what it means to be a slave, producing forced, free labor, in the United States prior to the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. More definitively, I could not imagine what it would mean to be a legally free person and still be held captive for little over a decade.
To date, the story of Solomon Northup and his 1853 memoir’s adaption in Direct or Steven McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave is the closest, realest slavery account ever captured in a theatrical form. The movie goes beyond the explicitness of Roots (1977), the unfairness of Amistad (1997), and the vulgarity of Django Unchained (2012). 12 Years a Slave posthumously pays tribute to Solomon Northup’s strength, perseverance, and survival techniques to overcome his unfortunate predicaments.
British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor vividly and undoubtedly gets better with time. Keeping a low radar, Ejiofor has the makings to possess a seasoned career as Hollywood greats like Morgan Freeman or Sidney Poitier. As a legitimate Academy Award contender, Ejiofor has made leaps and bounds since his initial minimal roles like mean, ego-tripping drug lord, Victor Sweet, in Four Brothers (2005) (which is one of my favorite movies by the way).
Opposite of Ejiofor was a petite, frail African actress, Lupita Nyong’o, who made her American film debut as Patsey, bursting onto the Hollywood scene with a vengeance. Her first major role will most definitely be a memorable one. Patsey was delicate, calm, and graceful. On October 22nd, Nyong’o won the New Hollywood Award at the 17th Annual Hollywood Film Awards.
Brad Pitt’s role of a Canadian carpenter and abolitionist, Samuel Bass, was climax changing because Bass finally aided Northup to freedom. But Brad Pitt was microscopic compared to the entire scheme and progression of the movie. I expected for Brad Pitt to be in his usual picture perfection and he was just “eh.” (ok, borderline, mediocre)
You will lose yourself, forgetting that you are watching a movie but actually thinking you are trapped on the hot, cotton-infested Louisiana plantation with Solomon Northup.
In the theatre, I watched as people cringe in their seats, scream in visual agony, and even one woman, walked out of the theatre due to the movie’s intensity. These actions are only a testament to the movies life-like narratives of Solomon North’s 12-year longing to see freedom again.
5 Stars: There are some gruesome, harsh realities in 12 Years a Slave, officially making it the best movie I have seen all year and equally, the hardest movie to watch.
Locally, 12 Years a Slave opens at the AMC Waterfront, Cinemark Robinson Township, and Manor Theater Friday, November 1st.