12 Years a Slave, based on the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, tells the violently tragic, but ultimately redemptive, tale of a free black man kidnapped and forced to be a slave in the pre-Civil War Era in America.
It’s 1841, and Solomon Northup kisses his wife, Anne, and two children, Margaret and Alonzo, goodbye for what they think will be a three-week separation. The well-educated violin player, living in Saratoga, N.Y., is then introduced to two men bearing a lucrative offer. Hamilton and Brown work with a circus in Washington, D.C., whose performers are in need of a violin player. The pair offers to pay Solomon handsomely for two weeks of work, and Solomon agrees.
But after they pay him, they drug and abduct him. One minute he’s enjoying dinner with Hamilton and Brown. The next, he comes to in shackles, where he receives the first of many beatings. Soon he’s dumped into a paddle boat … headed south.
From here on, for the next 12 years, Solomon becomes a man with no freedom, no rights, no dignity, no family, but only suffering, humiliation, violence and despair. Interesting the word game in the name of the main character, Solomon Nothup. As if it should be clear from his name that his place is in the North, where we used to be a free man and not in the South, being a slave.
’12 years a slave’ can very well be considered a historic movie. It offers a clear view on those times, on the fact that being a slave most of the times meant exhausting work, violence, rapes, no food.
Considering the fact that this is an American movie and that I am not anymore such a big fan of their cinematographic industry, I could say that sometimes there’s a movie like this that changes just a bit my perspective.