In 1841, Solomon Northup (Chiwitel Ejiofor) is a free black man living with his wife and two children in Saratoga Springs, New York. He makes his living as a skilled carpenter and fiddle During a supposed business trip, Solomon is sold into slavery by two men. Solomon has to learn how to be a slave in the harsh conditions that he is exposed to. First sold to William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) who is a kind slave owner, Solomon becomes a trust servant under the new name of Platt. But he allows his usefulness to get the better of his ego and challenges carpenter John Tibeats (Paul Dano). When Tibeats threatens Ford’s family, Ford is forced to sell Platt to the only slave owner who will take him, the brutal Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender).

The life of a slave on Epps plantation is drastically different from life on Ford’s. Epps believe that the Bible gives him supremacy of the slaves and that he can do with them as he sees fit. Platt meets Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) who is the best cotton picker Epps’ mistress. This unwanted attention from Epps makes Patsey the target of Mary Epps, who abuses and attacks her every moment she gets. After being betrayed before, Platt is reluctant to try to convince others that he is a free man. When a laborer named Bass (Brad Pitt) arrives on the plantation, Platt makes another attempt to convince him to reach someone in Saratoga Springs about Soloman’s whereabouts.

There are several high-caliber performances from the various actors in the film. It is hard to choose who gives the strongest performance with Lupita Nyong’o, Chiwitel Ejiofor, and Michael Fassbender delivering exceptional performances.  Seeing how Solomon adapts to   his new life and yet he does not give up on his attempts to escapes after several betrayals.  Pasty’s predicament is severely worst as she must endure the rapes of her master and the vengeance of his wife.  Patsy is regarding as a prized possession that Epps uses as he desires.

The brutality and violence against the slaves in 12 Years a Slave is graphic and unrelenting. For most people, seeing families torn apart, slaves being inspected like livestock, and the shock of the whipping scenes, was a lot for some people to take in. There were several audible gasps and a lot of crying during the screening. I think it is easy for people in modern society to forget about the brutal treatment of slaves.