8.1/10
494,333
726 user 597 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
542 ( 7)
Top Rated Movies #201 | 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
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
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
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
Whiplash (2014)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential.

Director: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The story of Frank Abagnale Jr., before his 19th birthday, successfully forged millions of dollars' worth of checks while posing as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and legal prosecutor as a seasoned and dedicated FBI agent pursues him.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken
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
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
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In 1954, a U.S. marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in postapocalyptic Australia in search for her home-land with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshipper, and a drifter named Max.

Director: George Miller
Stars: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Fight Club (1999)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.

Director: David Fincher
Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf
Rush I (2013)
Action | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

Director: Ron Howard
Stars: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde
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) (18 October 2013)

Gross:

$56,667,870 (USA) (2 May 2014)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In order to better portray an alcoholic, Michael Fassbender had his makeup artist paint his mustache with alcohol so that the other actors would react naturally to the smell, as they would to a man who had been drinking heavily. 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.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Loose Canon: Oscar Bait: A History (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Trio in B-flat, D471
Written by Franz Schubert
Arranged by Nicholas Britell and Tim Fain
Performed by Tim Fain and Caitlin Sullivan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
McQueen's epic is beautiful and tragic anchored by sensational performances...
14 September 2013 | by (New Jersey) – See all my reviews

Read More @ The Awards Circuit (http://www.awardscircuit.com)

One of the things that have been thrown around for months now is the notion that awards season voting bodies won't respond to it because it's too "difficult" to sit through. Let's define difficult, shall we? Is it difficult to see the first openly gay politician gunned down by his closeted colleague? Is it difficult to see a reformed convict put to death by our country for his crimes? Is it difficult to see a mother choose which one of her children dies during the Holocaust? I'd argue that these answers add up to a resounding yes. Yet, no one threw those phrases of "too difficult" around.

I've watched hundreds of films throughout my short 29-year history and I've seen some difficult cinema. Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" can make anyone quiver in shame as it shows the despicable reality of the Holocaust. Paul Greengrass' "United 93", which is almost an emotional biopic of America's darkest hour, makes me want to crawl up into a ball and cry. And finally, Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ", one of the highest grossing films of all-time, shows the labor of our sins fleshed out into the beaten skin of an honest man. And still, no one threw these hyperbolic terms out saying, "it's too hard watch." Is it because this is an American tragedy, done by Americans? Is it the guilt of someone's ancestors manifesting it in your tear ducts? I can't answer that. Only the person who says it can. The structure of this country is built on the backs and blood of slaves. But slavery didn't just exist in America, it was everywhere. It was horrifying what occurred for over 200 years and believe it or not, still exists in some parts of the world TODAY.

Now when approaching the powerful film by McQueen and distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, there is a resounding honesty that McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley inhabit. There are no tricks or gimmicks, no cheap takes on a side story or character that is put there for time filling or a life-lesson for Solomon to learn. Everything is genuine. Is the film heartbreaking? Oh my God yes. Did I cry for several minutes after the screening? Embarrassingly so. I was enamored the entire time, head to toe, moment to moment.

I have long admired the talent that's been evident in the works of Chiwetel Ejiofor. I've known he was capable of what he has accomplished as Solomon Northup and he hits it out of the park. He has the urgency, worry, and drive to get home to his family and executes every emotion flawlessly even when all hope seems to be lost. Where he shines incredibly are the small nuances that he takes as the story slows down, you notice aspects of Solomon that make him even more believable.

As Edwin Epps, Solomon's last owner, Michael Fassbender digs down deep into some evil territory. Acts as the "Amon Goeth" of our tale, he is exactly what you'd expect a person who believes this should be a way of life to behave. He's vile and strikes fear into not only the people he interacts with but with the viewers who watch. As Mrs. Epps, Sarah Paulson is just as wretched. Abusive, conniving, entitled, and I loved every second of her.

Mark my words; Lupita Nyong'o is the emotional epicenter of the entire film. The heartache, tears, and anger that will grow inside during the feature will have our beautiful "Patsey" at the core. She is the great find of our film year and will surely go on to more dynamic and passionate projects in the future. You're watching the birth of a star.

Hans Zimmer puts forth a very pronounced score, enriched with all the subtle ticks that strike the chords of tone. One thing that cannot be denied is the exquisite camera work of Sean Bobbit. Weaving through the parts of boat and then through the grassroots of a cotton field, he puts himself in the leagues of Roger Deakins and Seamus McGarvey as one of the most innovative and exciting DP's in the business. Especially following his work in "The Place Beyond the Pines" earlier this year. Simply marvelous.

Oscar chances, since I know many of you are wondering. Put the Oscar's in my hands, you have a dozen nominations reap for the taking. Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor, Supporting Actor, dual Supporting Actresses, Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score. There's also a strong and rich sound scope that is present. The sounds of nature as the slaves walk or as Solomon approaches his master's house is noticed. The big question is, can it win? I haven't seen everything yet so I cannot yet if it deserves it or not. I can say, if critics and audiences can get off this "difficult" watch nonsense and accept the cinematic endeavor as a look into our own history as told from a great auteur, there's no reason it can't top the night. I'm very aware that seeing this film along with Steve McQueen crowned by Oscar is nearly erasing 85 years of history in the Academy. Are they willing and ready to begin looking into new realms and allowing someone not necessarily in their inner circles to make a bold statement as McQueen and Ridley take in "12 Years a Slave?" I remain hopeful.


256 of 418 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?