Ridley emphasizes the sadistic pitilessness of the whole proceedings, putting these inhuman words into the mouth of the slave owner's wife: “Your children will soon be forgotten.”The man who bought Northup and Eliza was William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch), a Baptist preacher with an estate on the right bank of the Red River in Louisiana.
Northup wrote that Ford was actually a most kind and fair master.
then for 12 years a thing,” Frederick Douglass wrote.
“It chills the blood.”The chill creeps in thanks in part to the matter-of-fact, often understated prose that Northup and his amaneunsis, a lawyer and newspaper editor named David Wilson, presented.
There are, however, two big omissions by my count, which we’ll get to.)At this point, and onward, the viewer might be mistaken that he or she has ended up in the wrong theater, watching a horror film.
Even habitués of suspense movies might become startled by the sound of Northup waking up in a dark dungeon, in heavy chains that crash and gash on the hard floor.A slave trader tells Northup that he is a runaway from Georgia, and when Northup replies that he’s a free man, Northup’s back is ripped into a ruddy mess, a beating that would make even hardened fans of the slasher genre turn away. The pounding soundtrack, the eerie shock, the bloody gore—director Steve Mc Queen has plundered the dark arts to unsettle the viewer.This happens to be the perfect course of action, better to frighten you with the hellish episode of slavery.“When consciousness returned, I found myself alone, in utter darkness, and in chains,” he wrote.His money and free papers were gone, and “commending myself to the God of the oppressed, bowed my head upon my fettered hands, and wept most bitterly.”(In the film, the men’s offer was for Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, to go straight to Washington.You are not mistaken—this is indeed a horror story.It just so happens that it is also a true story, though one with more than a hint of the surreal, so deranged was the treatment of human beings as property.Having proceeded to New York, the two congenial men implored Northup to continue with them to Washington, though he would thus enter a slave state.He was cautious, but he consented again, on account that the two men had such friendly and protective dispositions. But once there, the men drugged Northup—he was not intoxicated, he said—and after a night of agony he fainted.They had three children—Elizabeth, Margaret, and Alonzo—and settled comfortably, but not prosperously, in Saratoga Springs.As a free man, Northup frequently met with slaves, and without fail he counseled them to strike for freedom.