“There is no sin: I can do what I like with my property” says cotton plantation owner Edwin Epps when whipping a female slave, the same slave he rapes on a regular basis. This one episode really sums up the mentality between people who are financial capable of ruling other’s of a lesser social standing. London born Steve McQueen’s third film, after his debut Hunger (2008) that dramatizes the events in the Maze, 6 weeks prior to Bobby Sands death on the 5th May 1981 and Shame (2011) a film that involved sex addiction, is based on a 1853 memoir written by Solomon Northup a free African American, married with two children living in Saratoga Springs, New York who earned his living as a skilled carpenter and fiddle player who is duped, kidnapped and ends up as a slave to William Ford in the Southern States of America. 12 Years a Slave (2013) is the story of Northrup’s experiences working and living as a slave for twelve years of his life unable to admit to his masters who he really is and having to deny the skills he learnt as a free man, all in fear of a near death beating, and going as far has having to except a different name ‘Platt’.
The superb screenplay is by John Ridley; the cinematography was the responsibility of Sean Bobbitt who had worked on The Place Beyond the Pines (2013) and the vampire movie Byzantium (2012) as well as McQueen’s previous two films. German born Hans Zimmer, who has been answerable for over 100 films, composed the soundtrack. The ensemble cast is notable for performances from Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey the young and beautiful slave girl that Epps has love hate relationship with, the vicious slave owner Edwin Epps is played by another McQueen regular Michael Fassbender, with William Ford a kinder, less aggressive plantation owner performed by Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, seen recently in Prisoners (2013) as Platt’s arch enemy John Tibeats and a small, but important role for Brad Pitt as Samuel Bass.
This is an exceptional film not just because it won a very deserving BAFTA for Best Actor for Watching this historical drama exhausts you, drawing out every piece of emotion, a brutal, but moving film, that everyone should take time out to watch if for nothing more than to act as a lesson on how not to treat your fellow human beings. Bearing in mind that slavery can take many different forms, not always as psychically brutal as shown in the film but equally mentally demeaning. Cinema to be appreciated rather than to be enjoyed. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northrup and a BAFTA for Best Film, but also because it tackles a subject that is not normally told in such an honest and forthright manner.
|'Southern trees bear a strange fruit'|
 In United States history, a free Negro or free black was the legal status in the territory of the United States of an African American person who was not a slave. The term was in use before the independence of the Thirteen Colonies until the abolition of slavery in the United States in 1865 after the American Civil War, when the status ceased to have any relevance