Clipping 12 Years A Slave: Solomon Northup Portrait

The Oscar buzz is tremendous for Steve McQueen’s powerful 12 Years A Slave (Oct. 18), which screened at the TIFF this weekend. The new featurette, “A Portrait of Solomon Northrup,” offers a glimpse into the character and narrative.

Director McQueen says he was looking for a slavery story with a unique angle and found it in the memoir of a free man with a family who was sold into slavery: an every man that we all could identify with in the form of a nightmarish thriller. And that’s the universality of Solomon Northrup’s story, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose world is shattered when he’s kidnapped, shackled, and imprisoned. It’s especially compelling as an allegory for these precarious times.

Northrup was a violinist who lived in Saratoga Springs, New York, in the mid-19th century, with “a sense of equality,” as Ejifor suggests. He’s lured into a trap with a job offer and sold to a plantation owner in Louisiana. He loses his identity, is brutalized, and learns the unflinching inhumanity of slavery. I look forward to covering a range of below-the-line contenders, including Adam Stockhausen’s production design, Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography, Patricia Norris’ costumes, Joe Walker’s editing, and Hans Zimmer’s score.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Books, Cinematography, Clips, Costume, Editing, Festivals, Movies, Oscar, Production Design, Tech, VFX

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