Arts & Entertainment

‘12 Years a Slave’

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12 YEARS A SLAVE

12 Years a Slave” isn’t the story of an American tragedy. It’s the story of the American tragedy — this country’s original sin. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the lead in the true story of Solomon Northup, a free-born black man kidnapped from New York in 1841 and sold into slavery in Louisiana.

Other movies and books have gone here, but few so far and with such overwhelming clarity of purpose. “12 Years a Slave” is to the “peculiar institution” what “Schindler’s List” was to the Holocaust: a work that, finally, asks a mainstream audience to confront the worst of what humanity can do to itself. If there’s no Oskar Schindler here, that’s partly the point. Directed by Steve McQueen (“Shame”); co-starring Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch.

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