Flying the flag for the UK public

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An adaptation of Solomon Northup's 1854 memoir, Twelve Years A Slave is an astonishing achievement from both artist-turned-director, Steve McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon is at first a free man, an African-American violinist and father-of-two who lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, where he enjoys greater social and material privileges than many of his white neighbours. When he wakes one morning to find he has been sold into slavery to work in the plantation fields of Louisiana by his supposed benefactors, his whole world changes: his identity and even his name have been replaced. The story follows Solomon,s passage through a succession of owners, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender. The worst being Fassbender, whose need for money, power, lust and whiskey have stripped all morality. Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity, but in the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life. British director Steve McQueen has delivered a terrifically well-intended and non-judgmental drama that does not preach to audiences, but instead thoughtfully and intelligently conveys the horrific trauma suffered during slavery. McQueen does everything right here; from his choice of star, Chiwetel Ejiofor - whose magnetic presence keeps you focused on all his reactions, to the unusually abrasive music score from Hans Zimmer which wonderfully sets each scene, and finally, McQueen's powerful and lasting images that only confirms his status as one of British cinema's most accomplished visual stylists

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