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’12 Years a Slave’ compelling cinema

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12 Years a Slave
Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Alfre Woodard

The very talented Chiwetel Ejiofor helms this Steve McQueen-directed true story about a free black man, Solomon Northup, who was tricked into slavery. Learned and cultured, Northup, a violinist, is labled a runaway from Georgia and is summarily transported to a plantation — one can’t say returned, since he never lived on a plantation — to live in a world that is totally alien to him.

Period pieces about black life abound, but this film is the exception in scope and execution, and the fact that the events depicted actually happened. Although portions of the film will make you recoil, don’t let that deter you from seeing one of the best films of the year. –p.d. lee