In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.
Based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty personified by a malevolent slave owner, as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life.
12 Years a Slave is a 2013 period drama film and an adaptation of the 1853 slave narrative memoir Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, a New York State-born free African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery. Northup was put to work on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before being released. The first scholarly edition of Northup’s memoir, co-edited in 1968 by Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon, carefully retraced and validated the account and concluded it to be accurate. Other characters in the film were also real people, including Edwin and Mary Epps, and Patsey.
The film was directed by Steve McQueen. The screenplay was written by John Ridley. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup. Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, and Alfre Woodard are all featured in supporting roles. Principal photography took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, from June 27 to August 13, 2012. The locations used were four historic antebellum plantations: Felicity, Bocage, Destrehan, and Magnolia. Of the four, Magnolia is nearest to the actual plantation where Northup was held.
12 Years a Slave was praised for its acting (particularly Ejiofor, Fassbender, Nyong’o and Paulson), Steve McQueen’s direction, John Ridley’s screenplay, its production values, and its faithfulness to Solomon Northup’s account. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 95% of critics gave the film a positive rating, based on 327 reviews with an average score of 8.9/10, with the site’s consensus stating, “It’s far from comfortable viewing, but 12 Years a Slave‘s unflinchingly brutal look at American slavery is also brilliant — and quite possibly essential — cinema.” Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 96 out of 100 based on 56 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be “universal acclaim”. It is currently one of the site’s highest-rated films, as well as the best-reviewed film of 2013. CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film an “A” grade.