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Watch: ’12 Years a Slave’ Directed by ‘Shaft’ Director Gordon Parks

Watch: '12 Years a Slave' Directed by 'Shaft' Director Gordon Parks

Before it became an acclaimed feature film from Steve McQueen, the autobiography “Twelve Years a Slave” was the basis for an “American Playhouse” television movie for PBS directed by famed director Gordon Parks (“Shaft”). Based on the same source material as the McQueen feature, the TV version, which aired in 1984, was known as “Solomon Northup’s Odyssey.” 

Avery Brooks plays the leading role of Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery. After first airing on PBS, the film was later released on video under the title “Half Slave, Half Free.”

You can see a clip of the movie below or watch the whole thing by subscribing to Fandor.

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Larry Wallace

I recalled watching the PBS presentation of Gordon Parks helm film starring acclaimed African American actor Avery Brooks in "Solomon Northup's Odyssey." airing in 1984. Despite the limited budget the Gordon Parks's film, later released on VHS video as "Half slave/Half free", the film was very moving without need of excessive violence, use of the hated filled psychologically branding title forced on victims of slavery -free or slave- N……R.

As a side note: Many will remember Mr Avery Brooks as the well dressed/well spoken strong arm enforced on the television show, "SPENCER FOR HIRE". Mr Brooks is also credited for giving live to one of several Captain of the star ship "ENTERPRISE".

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