AwardsLine editor Christy Grosz contributed to this report.
Joe Walker, the film editor for 12 Years A Slave, said the depiction of the lynching of Solomon Northup was crafted with much foresight. The scene is one of the most uncomfortable for audiences to watch – a long, grueling take as the main character chokes for breath, a rope tight around his neck, while he desperately tries to prop himself up by his toes that are sinking into a muddy ground. He is left to hang for the entire day as other slaves in the background continue about their chores. Walker said director Steve McQueen and his cinematographer Sean Bobbitt had a very strong idea of how they wanted to shoot that scene, down to the exact selection of the shots. “It’s partly from a very initial reaction to the book, in which it’s a very key scene,” said Walker. “That kind of casual nightmare, which is the best way I can think of putting it, of the man who’s sort of caught between two masters and nobody has the power to chop him down, leaving him hanging there.”