The incredible story of Solomon Northup, who became enslaved after living a life as a free an honest man, married and two children.
By the first looks of it, you can’t find a way in which Solomon Northup isn’t an honest guy. He dresses himself and his family well, knows how to provide for them by playing the violin and puts his children to bed himself.
Then, one night, things take an awfully wrong turn. Solomon Northup (excellent play by Chiwetel Ejiofor) is fed drunk by some bastards who promise him golden mountains, and the next morning he wakes up in chains, with nothing else than his shirt and underwear. When he claims to be a free man and is demanded for his papers to proof his statement, this isn’t possible.
The nightmare begins. Without knowing why and how, he is gathered up with some other men who have been taken aswell. They are smuggled by boat to a man who is going to sell them at the market. There it appears, Solomon Northup no longer exists. In the lineup he is pointed to as ‘Pratt’, and he gets beaten when he tells what his name is.
‘Your name is Pratt’, and there’s that.
He has different masters because of all kinds of circumstances. In one case, he is by far one of the favourites of a master, which leads to him nearly getting killed when his master is not there. To protect him from this, his master decides to sell him. Of course, Solomon’s next master is far less pleasant.
It is unbelieveable to see how not only the mental capacity of white people truly used to be ‘you’re black, so you’re mine’ but also it was exceptionally rare to find people who didn’t cling to this incredibly stupid believe. I have seen this in The Help aswell. Some white person could literally state in their Will that their offspring could inherit black persons if they were at the service of these white people. It shocked me so much and makes me more grateful that I was born so much later that this is no longer the case. Then again, for a human race that has developed so many clever mathematician solutions and have put rockets on the moon and other planets, it still seems tremendously stupid that this was done only this century and not at the same time the Bible was created.
But I’m stepping sideways, sorry.
The film has absolutely great acting. Not such a surpris with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberwatch and Lupita Nyong’o aboard. They really know how to put the proper efford in the characters. Thanks to that, it’s nearly unbearable to watch, but at the same time, such a powerful portrait. Given that this film is based on actually happened events that were, of course, always denied, as Solomon’s name was taken away and switched for Pratt, so that everyone could deny that he ever was there, this film is an absolute Must See.