Arriving to remind us that slavery was not always a fun, hyperviolent romp, here’s the trailer for 12 Years Of Slave—a slavery film that, like Django Unchained, features a packed cast and Oscar potential, but unlike Django, aims for serious contemplation over seriously blowing shit up. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in the story of Solomon Northup, a freeborn carpenter and classical violinist who makes the common mistake of dining with dudes in frilly vests, only to find himself kidnapped and sold into slavery. From there, Eijofor endures torment at the hands the various evil white people played by Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, and archetypal jerk Paul Dano, seeks solace in his bonds with Alfre Woodard and Michael K. Williams, and eventually finds possible guardian angels in the nice white guys played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt, the latter of whom arrives straight from heaven (Canada).
British filmmaker Steve McQueen, who previously directed Fassbender in Shame and Hunger, has demonstrated a real knack for stories about men stripped of their humanity, and 12 Years looks to be every bit as powerful. It’s also worth noting that McQueen is black, meaning 12 Years is one of the rare slavery films to be told by someone besides a white man. (Or an American man. Though we’re pretty sure the British also understand now that slavery is bad.)