Watch the Exclusive First Clip From 12 Years a Slave

Steve McQueen’s searing slavery epic 12 Years a Slave won’t be released until October 18, but if it feels like it’s already dominating the pop cultural conversation in a way that’s unusual, that’s befitting of a film that demands to be discussed. Vulture has the exclusive first clip from the highly praised film, and it’s a rare idyll in the brutal story, an early scene that comes before Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) is tricked, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in the south. When we meet Solomon in this scene, he’s still a free man living in 1841 New York, an acclaimed violinist of means with a happy family (and a daughter oh-so-briefly portrayed by last year’s Best Actress nominee, Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis). Solomon thinks little of going into a fancy shop to buy his wife something nice for an upcoming trip, but as you’ll see in this scene, not everyone takes his freedom for granted — and soon enough, that freedom will be a distant memory that the enslaved Solomon clings desperately to, a reminder of who he once was, and who, deep down, he still remains.

Watch the First Clip From 12 Years a Slave