Steve McQueen is one of the the most underrated talents we have in this industry. The man tells stories that are intensely personal and deeply emotional. His two films to date, Hunger and Shame, can be difficult to watch sometimes for their very honest depictions of starvation and addiction. But they are tales of overcoming great personal strife and for all the grit in their yarn, they are both films that have an undeniable cinematic beauty to them.
12 Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as freeman-turned-slave Solomon Northrup, is McQueen’s newest film and, judging by this trailer, carries the obvious mark of the London-based artist and director. View the very moving trailer below:
That’s my initial reaction to this. It’s hard to say really anything more.
The cast, including McQueen standard Michael Fassbender is rounded out by Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Dwight Henry, Quvenzhane Wallis, Lupita Nyongo, Scoot McNairy, Michael Kenneth Williams and Garret Dillahunt. Everyone seems to be in top form and are sure to garner at least a couple nominations come award season.
While the comparison is hardly fair, people are bound to compare this film with last year’s Django Unchained. Which is too bad. Just because both films factor slavery heavily in their narrative hardly garners comparison. The two films, judging them just by their trailer, have decidedly dissimilar tones and content. One is a pulpy adventure film and the other is a personal story of intense sacrifice and courage.
There were things in Django that were hard to witness (D’Artagnan’s encounter with Calvin Candie’s dogs, for instance) but I have a feeling what we see in 12 Years will be all the more heart-wrenching because its a story with its roots firmly planted in reality.
We won’t know for sure until 12 Years a Slave hits theaters on December 27th.