British director Steve McQueen’s Oscar-winning historical drama 12 Years A Slave tackles America’s primal sin of slavery with unflinching honesty – and leaves in the shade Hollywood’s previous efforts to address the subject.
Based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a freeborn man abducted and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South, this harrowing film is steeped in authenticity, which makes its depiction of slavery’s physical cruelties often difficult to watch.
Yet the film is equally powerful in showing the way slavery warped the minds of slave and master alike, as is revealed by the unhinged behaviour of Michael Fassbender’s sadistic slave owner and the torment of the slave he lusts after, played by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.
Ultimately, however, this is a tale of resilience and survival, as Chiwetel Ejiofor’s terrific lead performance, which embodies Solomon’s dignity and intelligence as well as his suffering, makes emphatically clear.
Certificate 15. Runtime 134 mins. Director Steve McQueen.
Released on Blu-ray and DVD by Entertainment One.
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