Michael Fassbender (Left) Threatens Chiwetel Ejiofor (Right) in “12 Years a Slave”
An estimated 10-12 million slaves were brought to the United States in the course of the slave trade; thousands more died during the course of slavery in the U.S. Our protagonist, Solomon Northup, was born a free man in early 19th century New York; he married and had children of his own. Solomon’s parents died free. Solomon remained a free man until the year 1841 when he was tricked into a job by two men; as Solomon travelled with the men they arrived in Washington and ate and stayed at the Gadsby Hotel; Solomon fell ill and the men offered him medicine. This would be the last thing Solomon would recollect as a free man before being tricked and sold into slavery. “12 Years a Slave” is a touching story based on real events as accounted by Northup. There has really never been a movie like this, and much like Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity”, it’s an enormously important film.
Independent wunderkind Steve McQueen directs a film unlike any period drama the world has ever seen. Rather than following a typical Spielberg-esque narrative that’s common for this genre, McQueen’s film goes where it wants, not being afraid to allow long, roaming takes into the movie. The film works at times like a documentary in that respect, letting the camera remain on what is happening rather than using unnecessary cutting and sentimental shots that are often seen in films such as this. Cinematographer Sean Bobbitt was also a former CBS war cameraman, explaining much of the fluid and intuitive nature of the camera movements.