Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Blu-ray movie review: “12 Years a Slave”

Having just taken home three Academy Awards (including Best Picture), Steve McQueen's adaptation of Solomon Northup's 1853 autobiography comes to DVD and Blu-ray with a number of special features, including the 40-minute documentary "12 Years a Slave: A Historical Portrait," which offers an extended look at the harrowing imprisonment Northrup was forced into for more than a decade.

Steve McQueen's third feature (after Hunger and Shame) will likely posses an Oscar trophy for best picture (among other accolades). Last year's highest-scoring film, 12 Years a Slave depicts the harrowing true story of Solomon Northup (the Oscar-nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man living in upstate New York in 1841 who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The impressive cast also includes fellow Academy Award nominees Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o, plus Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Alfre Woodard, Sarah Paulson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael K. Williams, Garret Dillahunt, Scoot McNairy.

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More information: There's a strain of thought that runs through the American body politic that since we are self-evidently "the greatest country on the earth", any perceived "minor" peccadilloes from our nation's past are easily forgotten and/or forgiven. This somewhat odd tendency raises its head most obviously in the treatment of Native Americans and, of course, slavery.

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