This image released by Fox Searchlight shows Michael Fassbender, left, Lupita Nyong’o and Chiwetel Ejiofor, right, in a scene from “12 Years A Slave.” (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight, Francois Duhamel)
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 Director 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 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.