Saturday January 25 2014

‘12 Years A Slave’ arouses images of the savage trade

Lupita Nyong’o (R) in a scene in the movie: 12

Lupita Nyong’o (R) in a scene in the movie: 12 Years A Slave. NET PHOTO. 

By Derrick Nomujuni

Another slave movie is making all the headlines and I must say rightfully so. 12 Years A Slave paints the slavery picture like you have never seen it before. The film is based on the memoir of Solomon Northup played by academy award nominee for this role, Chiwetel Ejiofor, a British actor of Nigerian origin.
Northup is an educated carpenter, musician and family man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south in 1841, a practice that was more common than people thought during that period in time.

Downgraded to the scraps of humanity, Northup finds himself on a cotton plantation owned by Ford (Benedicto Cumberbatch), a rather accommodating and sympathetic slave owner, who takes to him. Events soon see Northup traded off down the river to another slave owner called Mr Epps (Michael Fassbender). Epps is nothing short of a psychopath who seems to derive the utmost pleasure from making slaves miserable. His fascination with slave girl Patsey, (Lupita Nyong’o) also seems to only drive him further into a state of insanity and intolerable cruelty.

You may want to brace yourself a little bit if you have the faintest of hearts because certain scenes in this production will have you looking away in sheer horror. British director Steve McQueen tells the story of Solomon Northup with such realism it is chilling to watch at times, but nevertheless a wonderful work of art.
If you are interested in history, film and politics, then this is a production that you ought to see because it will touch you like nothing ever.

the movie birth
In an interview on, this is what the movie’s director, Steve Mcqueen (pictured below), had to say about its origin: “My mother was born in Grenada, in the place where the mother of Malcolm X was born. I have relatives from Trinidad, where many of the Black Power movement activists were born. That is part of my tradition, and that is why I had wanted to make a film about slavery for many years.

But it was only after I had already started to write the draft of a fictional screenplay that my wife ran across Northup’s book. From the instant, I started to read it, it was clear to me that this was going to be my script. I was very surprised to discover that no one I knew had ever heard of the book, which tells such an amazing story and is so rich in details and nuances. I was filled with a tremendous desire to put this book on the screen. I thought it was a story that had to be told, precisely because so few people had been exposed to it before.”