12 Years a Slave
There are certain films that many will anticipate as roaring successes even before release. These are movies with talented casts, collaborative filmmakers and reputable source material – and 12 Years a Slave is such a film. Directed by Steve McQueen (Hunger) and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men) the narrative is in very capable hands.
Based on the autobiography of the same name, 12 Years a Slave tells the story of Solomon Northup, who was abducted and sold into slavery. A free-born African American man, Northup lived a comfortable life with his wife and two children until 1841, when he travelled to accept a job offer and was drugged and kidnapped by his companions. With Ejiofor as Northup, we see his resolve and attitude shift and evolve over the years as his experiences change him into an entirely different person, though he never gives up the hope of returning to his family.
Such a vast evolution is surely a significant challenge for any actor, but Ejiofor is an astounding talent and delivers a performance that is rather overwhelming. The film boasts an impressive cast overall, with Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) co-starring and Brad Pitt, Paul Dano and Benedict Cumberbatch taking supporting roles. As to be expected, Fassbender is fantastic, bringing a malevolence to crazed plantation owner Epps that allows for greater growth of Ejiofor’s character. Relative newcomer Lupita Nyong’o (Shuga) holds her own among the film’s big names, delivering an escalating performance of Patsey, a pretty young slave suffocated by Epp’s unwelcome infatuation.
Hans Zimmer’s score is poignant and mesmerising, utilising the compelling yet gentle Time – one of his most acclaimed pieces from the film Inception. Working along the beautiful cinematography of Sean Bobbitt, Zimmer has a considerable hand in making this film so mesmerising.
12 Years a Slave is a film that will be talked about throughout the year. As evidenced by his extraordinary feature debut Hunger (which told the heavy tale of Irish republican Bobby Sands) McQueen is adept at delivering weighty biographies in a respectful and captivating manner. This film will undoubtedly cement his reputation. An affecting and overwhelming movie, it’s exploration of human cruelty, compassion and will make it perhaps the most important release of the year.
12 Years a Slave is released in the UK on 10th January 2014.
Watch the trailer for 12 Years a Slave here: