8.1/10
502,226
729 user 596 critic

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Trailer
2:26 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (based on "Twelve Years a Slave" by)
Reviews
Popularity
587 ( 127)
Top Rated Movies #198 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 235 wins & 326 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The story of King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.

Director: Tom Hooper
Stars: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter
Biography | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A Mumbai teen reflects on his upbringing in the slums when he is accused of cheating on the Indian Version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

Directors: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan
Stars: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Saurabh Shukla
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.

Director: Ron Howard
Stars: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly
Argo (2012)
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980.

Director: Ben Affleck
Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman
Spotlight I (2015)
Crime | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

Director: Tom McCarthy
Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams
Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A determined woman works with a hardened boxing trainer to become a professional.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric
Gladiator (2000)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

When a Roman General is betrayed, and his family murdered by an emperor's corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A washed-up actor, who once played a famous superhero, attempts to revive his career by writing and starring in a Broadway play.

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Stars: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton
Adventure | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner's vengeful plans for the same.

Directors: Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth
Stars: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Dickie Gravois ...
Overseer
...
...
Anna
...
...
Cameron Zeigler ...
...
...
...
...
...
Mister Mackey Jr. ...
Randall
...
Edit

Storyline

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. Written by Fox Searchlight

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The extraordinary true story of Solomon Northup


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence/cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

| |  »

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

8 November 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Twelve Years a Slave  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$923,715 (USA) (20 October 2013)

Gross:

$56,671,993 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Digital DTS Sound)| | |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

2nd Best Picture Oscar winner with Arabic numerals in the title, rather than Roman numerals or a spelled-out number. The first was : Around the World in 80 Days (1956). See more »

Goofs

When Soloman is drinking wine with the Hamilton and Brown, Hamilton drinks all of his glass and then tops off Soloman's. In the next shot Hamilton's glass is half-filled and they have a toast. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Overseer: Alright now, y'all fresh niggers. Y'all gonna be in the cuttin' gang.
See more »

Connections

Featured in 13th (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Awake on Foreign Shores
Written and Performed by Colin Stetson
Courtesy of Constellation
By Arrangement with Third Side Music Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A disturbing but powerful portrayal of slavery in America
3 November 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Directed by Steve McQueen and staring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict CUmberbatch, newcomer Lupita Nyong'o, and a ton of other stars, '12 Years a Slave' is based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a freeman who was living in Saratoga, NY before being tricked, drugged, and sold into slavery in the south.

McQueen is an auteur known for his honest and brutal direction, and he keeps filming when others would shut the camera off or look away. While making the picture that much more difficult to sit through, his steadfastness greatly elevates the emotional impact of the film. It's a must-see, if only for educational purposes—just as 'Schindler's List' is used to teach about the Holocaust and 'Milk' about the struggle for gay rights.

I'm not trying to compare the events depicted in this film with the events depicted in those I just mentioned, all I'm saying is that they are all equally important in portraying the reality of their respective situations. There is a moment in '12 Years a Slave' when, as a form of punishment, Northup is hanged by his neck, the tips of his toes just able to reach the ground below him. The camera stays on him for a few minutes. It is silent, and all you can do is listen to him struggling for breath.

This is one of the more disturbing moments in the film, but not the worst. Eventually, Northup is sold to Edwin Epps, a short-tempered and impulsive plantation owner portrayed by Michael Fassbender. He is by far the most villainous and terrifying character in the film, and Fassbender brilliantly captures his mood swings and tempestuous personality.

It is Chiwetel Ejiofor, however, who steals the show. He brings so much life to Northup, and completely disappears into his characters. He is able to depict so many deep levels of emotion, while also bringing dignity to a man who was unwilling to let anyone take away his will to "live" rather than just "survive." Additionally, Lupita Nyong'o, in her first big film role, is mesmerizing as Patsey, and hardworking and desperate woman, and the object of her master Epps's attention. She is hated by Epps's wife—masterfully played by Sarah Paulson— and most of the more dramatic moments in the film revolve around her character's tragic story.

If I have one complaint, it's that 12 years do not seem to pass by at all, mainly because none of the characters substantially age. Also, Brad Pitt is thrown in for ten minutes to depict a kind-hearted abolitionist, and while he does a good job, it just feels like Brad Pitt on a slave plantation, which is totally out of place.

Regardless, while the film may be harrowing and difficult to sit through, it is simply brilliant all the way through, and by far the most honest depiction of slavery that I've ever seen.


16 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?