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12 Years a Slave (2013)

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

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(screenplay by), (based on "Twelve Years a Slave" by)
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Top Rated Movies #203 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 235 wins & 326 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Uncle Abram
Dickie Gravois ...
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Judge Turner
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Anna
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Cameron Zeigler ...
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Mr. Moon
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Christopher Berry ...
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Mister Mackey Jr. ...
Randall
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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:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

8 November 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Twelve Years a Slave  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$923,715, 20 October 2013, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$56,671,993

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$187,733,202
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Digital DTS Sound)| | |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano and Bill Camp also appear together in Love & Mercy (2014). See more »

Goofs

When Solomon Northup was playing the violin in the early scenes, the violin strings were made from synthetic material. The material at the time would have been catgut. See more »

Quotes

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

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Louis C.K./Sam Smith (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Awake on Foreign Shores
Written and Performed by Colin Stetson
Courtesy of Constellation
By Arrangement with Third Side Music Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Abducted to a Southern hell
22 September 2013 | by See all my reviews

Considering the social and economic importance of slavery in America's history, the scarcity of serious films depicting the daily life of slaves in the Confederate States is significant - especially since the after-effects from this shameful episode still echo through the culture. '12 Years a Slave' is based upon the memoirs of Solomon Northup, who endured a hellish period of enslavement in Louisiana, which is backed up by legal records.

The story begins with him living with wife and children in upstate New York as a free man and respected member of his community. After being lured to Washington by a couple of con-artists who promised him work, he was subsequently drugged, locked in chains, viciously beaten, stripped of his identity and shipped to New Orleans to be sold into slavery. Over the next twelve years, he was owned by two men who treated him in contrasting ways. The first was a relatively civilized fellow, but the plantation's half-witted manager was threatened by Northup's superior intelligence. Their mutual dislike produced a dangerously volatile situation, and unwilling to lose his investment, Northup's owner re-sold him to a neighbor. This unbalanced individual regarded his slaves as property to be used for pleasure and profit, which caused them to live in perpetual fear that his capricious moods would flare into sadistic lust or rage at any moment.

It's noteworthy that a British director has become one of the few filmmakers to delve deeply into this subject, and the combination of John Ridley's powerful script and McQueen's directorial skills has inspired exceptional performances from the entire cast. Their dramatization of Northup's experiences is both riveting and uncomfortable to watch, as the film depicts the perverse nature of a society that permitted such a barbaric system. Hopefully it will reach a large US audience, who will learn how a privileged Southern elite cruelly exploited their fellow humans in order to acquire greater wealth for themselves.


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