12 Years a Slave is a British-American historical drama film. The adaptation of the movie based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free negro who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery. The film was directed by Steve McQueen. Premiere took place at Telluride Film Festival on August 30, 2013.
At the beginning of the film we get to know about the life of free negro Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who has a happy life with his wife and two children in Saratoga Springs, New York. After some time two men (Scoot McNairy and Taran Killam) offer Solomon a job of a musician in their show. They promise to pay a high salary, but instead of this, these two men intoxicate the main hero and sell him into slavery. Solomon Northup is send to New Orleans with other slaves and gets a new name Platt. Thanks to good physical form and talent of playing the violin, Solomon is bought by owner William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch). Northup advises Ford to clear away the river for the transporting logs rapidly and cost-effectively. Ford is satisfied with such proposition and presents Solomon with the violin. At the plantation Northup has problems with carpenter John Tibeats (Paul Dano). After a conflict, William Ford forced to send Solomon to another plantation for saving his life from the band of Tibeats. This time Northup finds himself under the pressure of Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). In contradistinction to William Ford, Edwin Epps hates his slaves and thinks that his right of treating cruelly of the thralls is biblically sanctioned. As the source of Epps’s income is a cotton plantation, every slave has to pick up 200 pounds of cotton every day, or be beaten. A young female thrall Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) daily picks over 500 pounds, so she always get compliments from Epps. The wife of Edwin Epps (Sarah Paulson) strongly hates Patsey and sure of the intercourse between her husband and a slave, so she always tries to take a vengeance on this girl. Unexpectedly comes the epidemic of cotton worms. Epps thinks that it happened because of new slaves, so he sends slaves to the neighboring plantation for the season. Northup gains the respect from the owner of this new plantation and earns money for the playing the violin at the wedding anniversary celebration. After returning on the plantation of Epps, Northup makes the acquaintance of a new overseer (Garret Dillahunt) and asks him to send a mail. This attempt is failed. Northup begins on the constructing of gazebo with a Canadian carpenter Bass (Brad Pitt). Bass has an opposite thought about slavery, he blames it. Solomon takes such opportunity and tells Bass a true story of his life and asks him to help. Finally Solomon Northup gets the freedom and returns home after 12 years being a slave. 12 years a slave is really absorbing film, every moment chains the attention to the fate of the main hero. A well thought-out plot and delicate direction create the real image of that heavy time, time of shameful slavery. To my opinion, the acting of the cast was brilliant, all actors and actresses matched to their characters, so in result of that we have on opportunity to have a pleasure of watching the integral picture with impressive performance. I was happy to see some of my favourite star-actors, such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt, their playing was vivid. I would like to mention superb photography, because you got the feeling like you are there, on those plantations, with the heroes, whom you sympathize. The climax is gradually growing up and fully opens in the conversation between Solomon and Bass. You don’t know what expect from Bass and you feel a genuine happiness when finally the main hero gets freedom. It is strong moment which makes this film memorable. I would like to recommend watching this powerful and moving film. Here you meet true-to-life characters with ordinary problems of that time. Also you see true emotions and will of one person to return home and be again with the family. I’m sure that this film will awake feelings and compassion. It’s worth to be seen!