Steve McQueen's Masterpiece 12 Years a Slave
He was an artist, filmmaker and director - and with his 2013 film, Steve McQueen wrote his name into the history books.
He was an artist, filmmaker and director - and with his 2013 film, Steve McQueen wrote his name into the history books. 12 Years a Slave was an adaptation of a slave narrative written by Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841.
The film tells the story of Northup’s journey through the extreme hardship of the institution of slavery, and his eventual liberation after twelve years. Featuring an all-star cast, incredible direction, and an intense soundtrack, the movie shot to critical and commercial success.
The biggest critical plaudits were focused on McQueen’s attention to detail. Through his direction and cinematography style, he was able to bring a sense of realism to the film that many other slave narratives lacked. His powerful visuals and carefully judged composition brought the tragedy and horror of slavery to the screen in a way that audiences around the world had never seen.
The film won an impressive three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director for McQueen, and Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o. It also won a further twelve awards at various ceremonies, and it was nominated for an astonishing thirty-seven awards from across the globe.
The film’s release was incredibly well-timed. It came out only two years after the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, making it a timely reminder of the brutality of slavery and a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit.
Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave remains a modern masterpiece. A powerful and important reminder of the horrors that humans are capable of, and a tribute to those who experienced it first-hand.