There is no sin. Man does what he pleases with his property.
– Cruel plantation owner Edwin Epps in 12 Years a Slave
Based on a true story, 12 Years a Slave is a remarkable microcosm of cruelty and perfidy inflicted on Blacks during a sordid period in American history.
Tricked Into Slavery
What makes the story of 12 Years a Slave more poignant and touching than other slavery stories is that the protagonist Solomon Northup was once a free man, living happily with his wife and children in Saratoga (New York) plying his trade as a violinist and carpenter.
Two conniving White men lure Solomon to perform at a music event in Washington DC from where he is kidnapped, held in a slave pen, savagely whipped and transported along with other unfortunate fellow Blacks to the deep south, Louisiana, in chains by boat.
Directed ably by British director Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave features a talented cast of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and the Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o.
The film is based on Solomon Northup’s bestselling book Twelve Years a Slave published in the 1850s.
Against his will and to his immense daily agony, the free man Solomon Northup has been turned into the slave Platt and forced to pretend he’s an unlearned being, no better than an animal.
Played with great sophistication by the British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, Solomon Northup a.k.a. Platt leads a miserable, wretched life as a slave for a dozen years, passed from one owner to another just like cattle.
Suffering at the hands of cruel masters and overseers, taunted as a baboon and a beast, Solomon, who once moved around Saratoga in fine suits and hats, is reduced to dirty rags and picking cotton on Louisiana plantations.
Platt endures hideous whippings, and bears helpless, mute witness to rape, hangings and merciless beatings of his fellow slaves.
Be warned that the brutal whipping of men and young girls until the skin breaks and the separation of mothers from young children is painful to watch although you know it’s just a movie.
Now don’t be deceived by the trailer because Brad Pitt has a small role in the film, appearing only toward the end.
12 Years a Slave proves yet again that in the annals of cruelty and treachery, there’s no species more beastly, more savage and more dangerous to Man than fellow members of the human race.
SearchIndia.com strongly recommends 12 Years a Slave. The movie is in limited release in the U.S. this week but moves into a wide release November 1.