Based on the true story of Solomon Northrup and the 12 years he spent as a slave after being swindled, kidnapped and sent to various plantations before ending up under the rule of psychopathic drunk slave holder, Edwin Eppes.
Much has been said about “12 Years a Slave” and it’s importance and Oscar chances. But all of this talk downplays just how much of an essential experience this film is.
Ejiofor’s performance as Northrup bounces from hopeful to hopeless with such ease, Fassbender is menacingly evil and pathetic throughout and newcomer Nyong’o brings such heartbreaking strength to a woman forced to endure some of the most savage abuse shown in film. Rarely is the black female experience of slavery brought to such real, horrific light in an outlet like this.
McQueen brings brutality and beauty to a story of survival and the beyond inhumane stain on this country’s history. This is a rough, grim horror of a movie, but it’s not punishment, it’s awareness. Awareness of a truth that should continue to be fodder for big discussions, and McQueen takes a true account and brings poetry to it.
I don’t know if it will win an Oscar, but it really doesn’t matter, the film already earned its importance.
12 Years a Slave opens on today in theaters nationwide.