Thursday, November 7, 2013

12 Years a Slave

By James Colt Harrison

Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Garrett Dillahunt, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Lupita Nyong’o, Brad Pitt
Director: Steve McQueen 

Few events in the history of the United States were more heinous than the treatment of Blacks (Negroes at the time) on Southern Plantations. There have not been many true stories to emerge from Hollywood sound stages about the plight of fellow human beings in young America’s southern flanks.
Based on the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free black man in Saratoga New York. Played expertly by Chiwetel Ejiofor in one of the great performances of the year, Northrup was a successful family man with a lovely wife and two children. In 1841 he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. He remained in the South until he was rescued 12 years later. 
It was a terrible thing to do to him and his family. It was a terrible thing to do to anybody who was caught in the slave trade. We’re all human beings for Heaven’s sakes! Nobody should be treated worse than an animal. But Northrup was shackled, beaten, whipped and nearly starved in his ordeal on the plantations. Director McQueen has no shyness in showing horrific beatings, disgusting hangings, and other unspeakable affronts to the slaves on Michael Fassbinder’s plantation. 
Fassbinder is a no-nonsense plantation owner and considers slaves his personal property because he bought them as though they were farm equipment. Just tools to use out in the hot sweltering sun like  steel tractors. To him they were not human, and he treated them in inhumane ways. Fassbinder has always been a good actor, and in this role he becomes maniacal and mean when things don’t go his way. One of the best actors in films today, both he and Ejiofor should be highly considered for that gold statue come next year.
Northrup could not escape, of course. There was nowhere to go. He was unjustly taken and forced to be a slave even though he was a free man in New York state. Paul Dano makes an appearance as someone too eager to take out his frustrations on the slaves. Dano can play evil well, and he’s scary, too. Paul Giamatti makes a cameo appearance as a slave trader. Sarah Paulson plays an evil wife of plantation owner Fassbender. The lovely Lupita Nyong’o is a slave who gets into trouble and pays for it with brutal treatment.
Only one man shows enough humanity to be kind to Northrup, and that is owner Benedict Cumberbatch. Making a splash this year in The Fifth Estate film about alleged spy/traitor Julian Assange, Mr. Cumberbatch does a good turn for Northrup and the other slaves. 
One wonders why films as this are made that show the worst side of America’s history. But it s important that we all know what went on and to never repeat such horrible acts of unkindness toward another human being. 
At the end of the film there is a terrific close-up of Ejiofor as he ponders his future. The look in his eyes conveys hope, fear and wonderment, and only a great actor can grasp the audience’s attention by speaking no dialogue whatsoever.

Visit our website for a free subscription of the ArtsNFashion Magazine. ArtsNFashion Magazine


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants For Single Moms