Based on the true story of Solomon Northrup – and his book “12 years a Slave” – Director Steve McQueen takes you into the 1800’s of this Nation – where black men of the North were free, and slave owners and “their property” were still prevalent in the South.
Solomon (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) was living the life of a free man with his wife and family in upstate New York. When his family leaves for a trip, his friend introduces to a few fine gentleman who want him to join them to play his violin for a few weeks, to earn some extra money for his family.
When Solomon finds himself drugged and shackled in a cell – his “friends” have apparently sold him into slavery. Missing his family, but wanting to stay alive, Solomon takes on his new slave name, Platt, and is sold to a plantation owner, yet gentleman, Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch).
Even though Solomon is educated – can read and write – and even knows a few things about engineering , his head master on the Ford Plantation, Tibeats (Paul Dano), is sick of his uppity ways, and wants him dead. Ford steps in to save Platts from certain death, and sells him to another local plantation owner, Edwin Epps, who is known for his mean and cruel handling of his “property.” (Played by Michael Fassender – yep’ he’s been very busy acting – as he is also THE COUNSELOR).
Platt/Solomon tries to abide by Epps’ rules, but has trouble standing by as he tortures everyone, including Epp’s lover/slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’) much to his wife’s (Sarah Paulson) disliking – knowing that he beds this slave often.
Platt continues to try to hold on – trying to think of any way he can to escape without being slaughtered. When a gentleman worker by the name of Bass (Brad Pitt) comes to help Platt erect a new barn on the plantation, Platt befriends him, as his last and only hope for returning him to his family. As Platt explains to Bass his plight and how he is really a free man from the North – luckily Bass is also a free man who enjoys his freedom – and believes Platt/Solomon’s story.
Will poor Patsey be able to escape the torture of Epps and his wife? Will Platt/Solomon be able to withstand the cruel treatment from Epps until he can figure a way out? Will Bass keep his word and send information to Solomon’s friends and family up North that he is still alive and being held as a slave? Will Solomon make it back to his wife and children, or dye in the fields of the South?
I give 12 Years a Slave – 5 Stars ***** – An A+ – the BEST MOVIE I HAVE SEEN SO FAR THIS YEAR!!! Chiwetel Ejiofor gave a performance of a lifetime. This movie and his incredible portrayal of Solomon Northrup has ACADEMY AWARD written all over it. Slightly reminiscent of JANGO UNCHAINED, this movie is very intense, very moving and very powerful. The story played out on screen in mesmerizing, and the real-life portrayal of these characters is astounding. Whether you are a fan of our Nation’s History or a fan of the producer & small-part actor of this film who goes by the moniker Brad Pitt, or if you are fond of neither of these things….no matter……you will still want to see the 2 hours and 13 minutes of pure cinematic genius that is 12 Years a Slave.