In 1853, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, was freed from the Louisiana plantation where he had been sent twelve years earlier after being kidnapped and sold into slavery. Steve McQueen’s forceful adaptation of Northup’s autobiography is as beautifully detailed and riven with pain as the book.
My review is at Film Racket; here’s part:
There are horrors aplenty in Steve McQueen’s blistering, cold-eyed epic of slavery. But amidst the cringe-inducing scenes of torture, McQueen pinpoints acts of cruelty so casual they almost hurt more. The plantation owner’s wife who tells her husband’s newest purchase, a woman just separated from her children, not to worry, “They will soon be forgotten.” Another wife, jealous of her husband’s attraction to a slave woman, raking her fingernails across the woman’s face with no more thought than she’d give to swatting an animal. In a world where people can be treated as property, humanity disappears almost as quickly from the owners as from the owned. The difference is, the owned are trying to hang on to theirs…
Here is the trailer: