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:: 12 Years A Slave

2014 Golden Globe (Best Film, Drama) and Academy Award (Best Picture) winner, based on the true story of free black man Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who was taken from his home in upstate New York and sold into slavery. From director Steve McQueen (Shame), co-starring Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt and Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and introducing Oscar winner (Best Supporting Actress) Lupito Nyong'o.

Waking up after a night with fellow musicians to find himself in irons, Northup undergoes a savage beating before he's even able to understand his plight - that he's been drugged and lured into the clutches of illegal slavetraders. Shipped to New Orleans and sold to a plantation owner, as Northup continues to suffer grotesque physical and psychological abuse he realises the gravity of his situation. While determined to return home to his family, Northup is forced to keep his head down in order to minimise punishment, hiding his educated past and biding his time to escape. But after a confrontation with a racist carpenter (Paul Dano), Northup finds himself sold to brutal, volatile plantation owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) and his struggle becomes not one of escape but simply survival.

The film’s sound design is a masterpiece in itself. The crack of a whip is amplified to gut-wrenching volume, while the natural soundscape of the plantation – the cicada chorus and the slaves’ songs – provide a score that’s far more resonant than Hans Zimmer’s oddly conventional effort.

You can feel the magnetic pull of McQueen to regular collaborator Fassbender every time he’s on screen. And though Epps is a familiar villain, Fassbender gives him vigour and inner life, while it’s Nyong’o’s wrenching work as Patsey that gives the film its heart.

DVD Extras

An Historical Portrait
The Team
The Score