12 Years a Slave could not have picked a better release date for its Blu-Ray and DVD. It is out today on home video and digital download platforms, merely days after 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
The stunning film chronicles the true story of Solomon Northup. He was a free man living in New York state, who was kidnapped during a trip to Washington D.C., and forced into slavery in the deep South. He would spend the titular amount of time there, enduring hardship and witnessing the worst of the horrors that man can do to his fellow man.
Director Steve McQueen has crafted a masterpiece that is hard to watch, yes, but is one of those films that must be seen (as we stated in our theatrical 12 Years a Slave review).
Chiwetel Ejiofor stuns as Northup, a man who goes through hell, yet manages to keep one eye on inspiration and as such, is an inspiration to us all. Lupita Nyong’O plays a fellow slave he meets at a plantation run by the utterly evil Michael Fassbender. Nyong’O famously won a Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in the film that also saw its third Academy Award come for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Brad Pitt not only served as a producer on 12 Years a Slave, but plays a small -- but pivotal -- role in the movie itself. Even in small roles, all actors shine, especially Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson and Alfre Woodard.
McQueen manages to chronicle this 12-year journey that will leave you with tears of joy and hope by the time the film concludes. It is a tribute to the human spirit and one of the must-own DVD and Blu-Rays of the year.
The Blu-Ray special features are only three in number, but feel massive in scope and importance. A Historical Portrait puts the true story of Northup in context of its time and explores the actual words that he used in his memoir that still moves readers, over a century after it was published. Of particular power in this bonus feature are the comments by Ejiofor. It is clear that now that this actor has played this extraordinary human being, he will never be the same.
The final two bonus features, The Team and The Score, look at the creative team that crafted this instant classic. The Team shows how McQueen and his filmmaking collective came together to make a film that had to be difficult on so many levels. The Team is a chronicle of a triumph, and for aspiring filmmakers, let it be a lesson in perseverance.
Lastly, The Score adds some flavor to the DVD and Blu-Ray bonus features in that it shows how the music of the film added layers of emotion that enhanced those emitted by the cast. Between The Team and The Score, it truly comes across as a study in how all the elements of creativity can come together and craft something truly astonishing.
Watch 12 Years a Slave online now and see why it won the Academy Award for Best Picture.