Late Thursday afternoon I spoke to 12 Years A Slave screenwriter John Ridley about…well, everything I could think of. The critical acclaim, Ridley’s expert recreation of formal mid 19th Century dialogue (which I haven’t heard done this well since Ed Zwick‘s Glory), the milqetoast pushback factor (i.e., older industry voices expressing reluctance to sit through Slave’s “tough medicine” scenes), Ridley’s Jimi Hendrix film All Is By My Side. For some inexplicable reason I didn’t ask Ridley about one of Slave‘s most riveting scenes — a wordless, almost agonizing moment between Chiwetel Ejiofor‘s Solomon Northup character and a woman with whom he briefly has sex, both of them desperate to escape their tormented reality as slaves. No love, no familiarity, no intimate connection — their coupling is strictly about “we’ve gotta get ourselves out of this situation for at least a couple of minutes.” In the annals of sex scenes it’s classic stuff, and is one of the reasons Ridley is sure to land a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Again, the mp3.

12 Years A Slave screenwriter John Ridley.