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12 Years A Slave

The extraordinary true story of Solomon Northup 

Year: 2013 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Steve McQueen 
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams, Michael Fassbender  

Lauded as the greatest film depicting the trials and tribulations of American slaves, 12 Years A Slave is based on the memoirs of the nineteenth century freeborn American, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who is tricked into slavery. Stripped of his freedom, his dignity and his name, Northup's tale is one that will haunt you long after you leave the cinema.

What is arguably the most admirable and best aspect of 12 Years A Slave is Steve McQueen's unflinching camera in the face of brutality. Its brilliance lies in its frankness. As we exchange Northup's first slave owner, the benevolent, though still inherently racist, Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), for Epps (Michael Fassbender) the audience is pulled into the dreadful and dangerous reality of a life under the whip. Fassbender proves his talent as the sadistic and malicious slave owner, truly shining in his interactions with Ejiofor. The chemistry between the two making every frame they share palpable with tension, as Northup tries to survive in a life that he neither born in to nor deserves.

Whilst praise has been heaped on the likes of Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o, who very deservedly won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, the best performance in 12 Years A Slave is undoubtedly from Chiwetel Ejiofor. Having shone in every project he has been involved in, Ejiofor proves that he is meant for the lead role. His performance envelops you into the world of Solomon Northup from the first moment we see the terror and realisation painted across his face when he sees the chains around his ankles.

With 12 Years A Slave, Steve McQueen offers us a cinematic masterpiece. Honestly, two hours spent watching this film will be two of the best hours you ever spend.

12 Years A Slave is truly a gift to the public.

Hayley Perry

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Screenings of this film:

2013/2014 Summer Term (digital)
2013/2014 Summer Term (digital)