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Synopsis and Promo Poster For Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave" Released

by Vanessa Martinez
November 2, 2011 11:49 AM
16 Comments
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Just coming out of the American Film Market (AFM) (via Collider); the already highly anticipated Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave has released a first synopsis and promo poster.

Synopsis:

Based on a true story, 12 YEARS A SLAVE is a riveting account of a free black man kidnapped from New York and sold into brutal slavery in mid-1850s Louisiana, and the inspiring story of his desperate struggle to return home to his family. The film based on Solomon Northrup's kidnapping and enslavement accounts, stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt.
SOLOMON NORTHUP (Chiwtel Ejiofor), an educated black man with a gift for music, lives with his wife and children in Saratoga, New York. One day, when his family is out of town, he is approached by two men claiming to be circus promoters. Solomon agrees to travel with them briefly, playing the fiddle while they perform. But after sharing a drink with the men, he awakens to find he has been drugged and bound and faces a horrifying reality: he is being shipped to the South as a slave.

No one listens to Solomon’s claim that he has papers proving his status as a free man. Despairing, he plots his escape, only to be foiled at every turn. He is sold to WILLIAM FORD, a kindly mill owner who appreciates Solomon’s thoughtful nature. But Ford is forced to sell him to a cruel master who subjects him and other slaves to unspeakable brutality. For years, Solomon nurtures his dreams of returning home. He stashes slips of stolen paper in his fiddle and develops a natural ink with which to write a letter. But when his greatest efforts come to nothing, he realizes just how trapped he is. Even if he could write the letter without being caught, where would he send it? Whom could he trust to deliver it? And will he even survive long enough to be rescued?

Refusing to abandon hope, Solomon watches helplessly as those around him succumb to violence, crushing emotional abuse and hopelessness. He realizes that he will have to take incredible risks, and depend on the most unlikely people, if he is ever to regain his freedom and be reunited with his family.

It seems like yesterday when McQueen's hot ticket Shame released it's first promo and synopsis around this time last year. Time flies! With financing underway and a 2012 release according to this promo poster, it won't be long until we get more production details.

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16 Comments

  • Donella | November 12, 2011 4:20 PMReply

    After having read the book, I'm looking forward to this film based on a story written by a Black man (Solomon Northrup), directed by a Black man (Steve McQueen), starring a Black man (Chiwetol Ejiofer) as a true lead (not an underwritten, submissive, comedic sidekick).

    Based on the story, Solomon Northrup's wife is a crucial element proactive in her husband's rescue showing that Black women of that time were not merely victims, but also fighters against the North American slave system.

    This entire storyline is a welcome relief from the "irony" and "satire" and the "hip" and the "cool" of that other slave movie that maintains its Black female lead down on all fours for three hours whimpering while about twenty white male character actors gleefully rape and whip her.

    I congratulate both Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt for choosing a project with integrity rather than a poorly-written fanboy action flick.

  • Really? Seriously? Are you kidding me? | November 3, 2011 12:03 PMReply

    WTF?????????? WHY WHY WHY is everybody making slave movies again? WAKE UP, PEOPLE!

  • AccidentalVisitor | November 3, 2011 11:26 AMReply

    {{{ WTF?????????? WHY WHY WHY is everybody making slave movies again? WAKE UP, PEOPLE! }}}

    How often were slave stories told before in American cinema? I'm willing to bet there have been more Holocaust films than there have been slave film, Jim Crow era films and Civil Rights films combined. And the latter group of films meant more to the history and development of the USA.

  • Mec | November 3, 2011 11:19 AMReply

    I hope that this film depicts true events of Solomon Northrup's life. Hollywood has a habit of portraying unrealistic images of, Jim Crow era American slavery to white audiences.

  • CareyCarey | November 3, 2011 8:33 AMReply

    @Neziah, be careful, don't get me started. LOL

    I mean, I was never against Mr. McQueen...I loved his IRA movie. However, my strongest voice of discontent was directed at the subject matter of his last film.

    Again, don't get me started, but I thought it was kind of strange and weird that so many folks were minimizing the effects of shocking sexual images and hidden messages. Not to mention flipping the script and turning "PRIVATE" parts into your every day garden variety "PUBLIC" parts. Hell, everybody has them so maybe WE should drop all the indecent exposure laws. Heck, we don‘t need the words “private parts“ we should just let it all hang out. HIP HIP HOORAY FOR ANYBODIES PARTS! :-)

    Nope Neziah, Stevie and I are cool, we just don't see eye-to-eye on some issues.

  • Micah | November 3, 2011 8:25 AMReply

    Wow, I'm really eager to see this film. I'm a huge fan of Chiwetel. I really feel he should be a big star already if talent counts for anything.

    Steve McQueen really impressed me with Hunger. What a visually captivating film and gripping film. Although I don't think I could watch Fassbender starve to death again. I can't wait to see Shame. I've been reading about Nicole Beharie makes an impressive foil to Fassbenser's sex addict. It's will be nice to see a movie where the black female lead is level headed but interesting.

    McQueen has only two feature length films under his belt and he's making quite an impression. When this film comes out I'm sure I'll be front in center.

    Who wouldn't love a black male protagonist who confronts his horrendous circumstances with bravery, intelligence and as much dignity as humanly possible under the circumstances. Not to spoil it for anyone who hasn't checked out the true story but it's quite impressive. This story deserves to be told.

    I saw that McQueen may be doing a movie about Fela next. I have my fingers crossed that he maintains quality in his work. I'd like to see him go far.

  • Neziah | November 3, 2011 7:49 AMReply

    @ CareyCarey

    Good to know you've finally warmed up to McQueen, even if it's only because he's making a black film, but I don't blame you.

  • Colored | November 3, 2011 6:39 AMReply

    This black man makes all white movies and his first black female character is totally sex based (beharie) and first black male character is a slave. blasphemy to say he is anywhere NEAR haile gerima. gerima would oppose all these characterizations. If you know his work or have ever heard him speak, you'll know that you just insulted mr, gerima.

  • Nia | November 3, 2011 5:28 AMReply

    I would really want to read the book first before saying anything, but the synopsis so far sounds intense. Can't wait to hear more coverage. McQueen is constanly proving himself as a gutsy, thought provoking and versatile filmmaker. Hope it's not a flash in the pan.

  • Neziah | November 3, 2011 5:23 AMReply

    McQueen wins again. If he keeps this up then he'll be the new Haile Gerima.

  • CareyCarey | November 3, 2011 4:21 AMReply

    OH GOODIE, I get to follow Tamara’s babble with a little babble of my own. LOL

    First, I have to say...in my old school voice...right on right on to Colored’s comment. Yet, in that same breath, why are people so upset at slave stories?

    I’m riding with Micah on this one “This [these] stories deserves to be told” . Granted, as Susan said, “this film will be so devastatingly sad on so many levels” but I have to ask - AND?

    I believe going “through” the journey of pain and sadness, gives one a better appreciation of what they may find and/or receive on the other side.

    Case in point (true story) I am doing a play that begins with a slaves narrative. This story is close to my heart because the slave was my grandfather. He joined the 108th Negro/Colored Infantry. One of his deployments found him on a small island with confederate soldiers. Well, their was no way for him to see the future, but 120 years later I buried my father on that same island. 20 years after that - I buried my wife there.

    The story goes deeper. In going back in my families gemology/genealogy, I was faced with the one drop rule. This one drop is the white blood in my DNA. One of my grandfathers was a white man. Oh lord, but all goodbye is not gone.

    It was a relief to find that small fact hiding in my closet because I always wondered why I couldn’t dunk a basketball and why my ass was so small. That one drop of “white men can’t jump” is running through my veins. I gotta lotta chocolate drops in me (4 generations) , but that one drop of Mr. Charlie has been holding me down. DAMNIT! o__O

    So, in my opinion, slave stories are cool and need to be told. I believe it depends on what a person is looking for. And I look forward to seeing Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years A Slave.

  • Neziah | November 3, 2011 3:40 AMReply

    @ Colored

    McQueen isn't concerned with race as much as he is pushing the boundaries of storytelling and genuinely dealing with topics no one else is willing to deal with. That is why I compared him to Gerima. Are his films on the same level? Of course not, but he's the only black filmmaker at this time who seems like he really has some balls. Those characterizations you mentioned are completely besides the point of McQueen's work. He's new, he's still got a while to go and of course his first black male character is a slave, this is an important story about slavery he's bringing to the screen.

    A black male is completely necessary for the role this time, while in his previous films, a black male arguably would've looked out of place, especially in "Hunger". Keep in mind, I have not seen "Shame" yet, but knowing McQueen, him casting a black female actor in that kind of role has no racial undertone to it, he's just giving out work and she accepted. Get over it! By the way, I said if McQueen keeps doing what he does then he'll be the new Gerima, but I didn't specify HOW long he still has to go to be on Gerima's level, which is still a long time.

  • T'Challa | November 3, 2011 2:26 AMReply

    "..he will have to take incredible risks, and depend on the most unlikely people"

    Translation - Some Good White Folks will help this poor Black man gain his freedom, because he couldn't have done it on his own.

    I haven't read the book, but if I'm wrong please let me know cuz that will determine whether or not I pay money for this flick. I like Chiwetel though...

  • Tamara | November 3, 2011 1:27 AMReply

    Already feeling the sorrow, heartache, angst and hope?

    I can't help but be reminded of a number of 'readings' circa the 1970s and 80s by writers Kyle Onstott, Lance Horner and Ashley Carter that dealt with characters inside and out a fictitious plantation known as Falconhurst. A couple of these novels were made into film: "Mandingo" and "Drum" and probably some more. I find it interesting these tales written when they were and how also at least in film the characters were typical portrayals of slave/slavemaster, but then, again, not 'so' much. Once upon a time I meant to write a paper on these works, but never did.

    And I know you all really wanted to know all of that, right? LOL

    I'm interested in these slave-narrative revivals, even though I've remained somewhat mum on postings here on the site.

    The upside with this feature: McQueen. The man is making me scratch my chin and nod thoughtfully more and more. He's just plain fascinating. And of Pitt, on an unrelated but related (considering my above babble about those "exploitative" slave narratives), will he be the eeevil slavemaster?

  • Mark Your Bets | November 3, 2011 1:06 AMReply

    The real drama isn't this story; it's the behind-the-scenes race to the finish Pitt/McQueen face to get their film into production and wrapped before Tarantino. With current delays on Django, it's going to be a nose to nose race.

    I love seeing 2 rival studios duke it out. Smells like napalm in the morning.

  • Suzan | November 2, 2011 12:21 PMReply

    I am eager but cautious because I know this film will be so devistatingly sad on so many levels a tear jerker I haven't read the book but I sure hope it ends with some serious ass kicking retribution. This is a story that we need to see but wow the emotions will run deep I hope mr McQueen gets the support he needs to make this a classic.

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