There are very few films where the audience leave the cinema without saying a word, (Schindler’s List was one of them) such is the impression left by what they have seen. Another one has just been added to the short list : “12 Years a Slave”
The film is a serious period piece of pre-civil war drama with a heavy-weight starring cast (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson). It is based on the real-life memoir by Solomon Northrop which he wrote in 1853 after his time in slavery. Solomon was a free man in upstate New York, tricked and abducted in to slavery, leaving his wife and 2 children without them knowing where he had gone. It lays bare the brutal cruelty meted out to slaves who are treated as property, which is harsh and often uncomfortable viewing. Racist language is widely used but to take it out of the film, would be like removing spices from a curry; it would make the film bland. By doing so, it makes you appreciate the freedoms that we take for granted here today.
The acting is superb and it is a powerful film that will leave a lasting impression on you; an essential history lesson on slavery. To miss this film at the cinema would be an injustice to you and to the people who crafted it. There are no slick special effects, fictionalisation or other trickery just drama at its supreme best.