12 Years a Slave is a movie that's hard to watch, but it's one you would never regret seeing.
12 Years a Slave is a movie that's hard to watch, but it's one you would never regret seeing. Steve McQueen directs Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, a free black man who lives in New York in 1841 with his family. As a prosperous violinist, Solomon lives blissfully apart from the slavery being practiced in the South, until he is tricked, drugged, and sold into slavery, where he remains for over a decade. He's forced to keep his identity a secret (revealing it only puts him in more danger) while being passed from one slave owner who's kind but not brave (Benedict Cumberbatch) to another, who's a terrible hybrid of religiously fanatical and sadistic (Michael Fassbender). Solomon's harrowing and remarkable story is a true one (the film is based on Northup's memoir), and while there is so much darkness in this slice of American history, the film is a triumph.
We've seen many narrative films made about slavery in the pre-Civil War South (Django Unchained came close to parodying it last year), but 12 Years a Slave stands apart. McQueen gives us Solomon's journey through his eyes, including the unbearable moments, of which there are many, and the highs, of which there are few. It makes for a powerful emotional experience that shouldn't be missed. Find out other reasons why 12 Years a Slave is so good after the jump.