Steve McQueen’s latest movie, 12 Years a Slave is based on a true story. Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northrup, it details his fall from being a free man living in New York with his family into slavery on a plantation. Lured by the promise of work as a musician, Northrup is drugged, chained and enslaved.
Over the following 12 years, Northrup deals with a number of masters, ranging from the sadistic Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) to the more compassionate William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), as he works towards regaining his freedom.
The film boasts an all-star cast that also includes Paul Giamatti and Paul Dano and if the sneak previews that have been released are anything to go by, it’s promising to be a powerful, hard hitting film.
Slavery is a contentious subject to cover and not all films succeed in dealing with it sensitively. Here’s a selection of some of the best films about slavery.
Beloved is the film adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel of the same name. Set not long after the Civil War, the story centres around Sethe (Oprah Winfrey), a former slave with a dark past.
Sethe lives with her daughter Denver (Kimberly Elise) in Cincinatti, her two sons having run away from home after a poltergeist torments them ceaselessly. When Paul D (Danny Glover), a former fellow slave, finds Sethe’s home, he manages to drive out the poltergeist and is invited to stay. Not long after, a mysterious young woman called Beloved (Thandie Newton) appears who also moves in with the family, who are soon to discover the secret she’s hiding.
It’s a powerful film and Winfrey’s performance is particularly striking – she manages to make you forget that she’s a talk show host and draws you in to the movie. However, despite good reviews, the film flopped at the box office and Winfrey has said that it was the worst moment of her career, causing her to discover what it felt like to be depressed.