This movie is to slavery what “Schindler’s List” was to the Holocaust.
I haven’t even seen all of the possible Oscar nominees, but I’m going to predict this will be the big winner. This is a rare movie that carves a place in cinema history. Yes- this film is that important. It’s pretty much a perfect film. A masterpiece. A game-changer.
Incredibly, it’s based on a real life story: Solomon Northrup was born a free man in upstate New York , living a middle class life with his wife and daughters when in 1841, he was lured to the nation’s capital and in the shadow of the White House, was kidnapped into slavery . At the time, important slaves was illegal , so slave owners found The title tells his story. The movie is based on his book, which should be required reading in every high school in America. It tells the story of slavery from a man who lived it, written 8 years before the Civil War.
British director Steve McQueen (born to West Indian parents) pulls no punches. This is a real horror story. It’s difficult to watch but must be seen. The performances are outstanding. Chiwetel Ejiofor has a lock on an Oscar nomination in his first leading role. He’s positively electrifying . And he’s just one of several possible nominees, including Michael Fassbender as a plantation owner who lusts for young slave Patsey (first time actress, the Mexian-born and Kenyan-raised Yale grad Lupita Nyong’o should also be nominated). Paul Dano (“Little Miss Sunshine” and “There Will Be Blood”) is frightening as an overseer who resents Solomon’s intelligence. Benedict Cumberbatch (who stars as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in “The Fifth Estate, also our this weekend) sympathetically plays Solomon’s first master, the genteel God-fearing William Ford, who saves Solomon’s life when he’s almost lynched. You will never forget the lynching scene. It will have you gasping for breath. The stellar cast also include Paul Giamatti (who seems to have a role in movie every week), Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, and Brad Pitt (in a small but pivotal role as an abolitionist). Pitt is also one of the producers of the film.
Director McQueen should get ready for his own Oscar nomination. The film is beautifully shot. You can almost feel the steamy heat of the Louisiana summer. The horrors are juxtaposed by the beauties of nature in the region. It’s also a masterful period piece, with careful attention to detail, shooting on real plantations and using the language of the times.
If you only see one film this year, see “12 Years A Slave”.