12 YEARS A SLAVE (M18)
SINGAPORE - From the opening frames of a group of slaves staring at an overseer demonstrating the cutting of sugarcane, the workaday banality of slavery in the 19th century is laid open here.
British director Steve McQueen (Shame, 2011, and Hunger, 2008) and American screenwriter John Ridley paint an intimate portrait of plantation life and the casual nature of the cruelty required to make a slave-powered enterprise work.
Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor, right), a free black living with his family in New York state, is promised a job as a musician with a travelling circus. Instead, he is taken in chains to New Orleans and sold into slavery.
His first owner, William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), is relatively benign but his second, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), believes that slaves respond only to the whip.
The movie is adapted from Northrup's autobiography, published in 1853.
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