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12 Years a Slave (2013)

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2:26 | Trailer
In the antebellum United States, metacritic.com
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617 ( 95)
Top Rated Movies #199 | Won 3 Oscars. Another 236 wins & 326 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Chiwetel Ejiofor ... Solomon Northup
Dwight Henry ... Uncle Abram
Dickie Gravois Dickie Gravois ... Overseer
Bryan Batt ... Judge Turner
Ashley Dyke ... Anna
Kelsey Scott ... Anne Northup
Quvenzhané Wallis ... Margaret Northup
Cameron Zeigler Cameron Zeigler ... Alonzo Northup
Tony Bentley ... Mr. Moon
Scoot McNairy ... Brown
Taran Killam ... Hamilton
Christopher Berry ... Burch
Bill Camp ... Radburn
Mister Mackey Jr. Mister Mackey Jr. ... Randall
Chris Chalk ... Clemens
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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


Certificate:

16 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 February 2014 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

12 años de esclavitud See more »

Filming Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA See more »

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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:

DTS (Digital DTS Sound)| Dolby Digital | SDDS | Dolby Surround 7.1

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Steve McQueen: [casting] Michael Fassbender. 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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Soundtracks

Run Nigger Run
Collected, Adapted, and Arranged by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax
Performed by Paul Dano (uncredited)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
2 Hours of Feeling Bad
24 November 2013 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

There is so much badness in our modern world and, because of the non-stop flood of digital information, it's coming at us ALL the time. Therefore, if I'm going to see a film about a horrible subject (which I'm not opposed to), I want to feel like I'm being subjected to it for a reason. I want to feel that the filmmaker has something to add to the conversation about it, draws some conclusions, makes a point that hasn't already been made. Otherwise, I feel like that much more badness has been added to my life for little purpose.

That is my problem with "12 Years a Slave," a formally accomplished film but one which left me cold. It's two hours of watching the absolute worst humanity can inflict on itself, and beyond the fairly obvious point that slavery was a horrible dark stain on American history, there isn't much point to be made and certainly no sense of enlightenment on the subject. It's a film executed to make its audience feel bad, and it succeeds tremendously on those terms. But it fails in most other ways that make great movies truly great. I felt terrible for the slaves depicted in the film in the abstract, but the individual characters are never fully developed enough to feel bad about them as actual people. It's a hectoring film, one scene after another of hateful, brutal violence (physical, sexual, emotional) inflicted on one set of human beings by another, and the problem is that the people who will actually go to see this movie don't need to be told how terrible this kind of human evil is, while those who might serve to be enlightened on that subject wouldn't see a movie like this in a million years.

Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a solid performance in the central role of a free black man who's kidnapped and sold into slavery for a dozen years. But his character never really came alive for me, and that limited the impact of Ejiofor's performance. Michael Fassbender is just asked to play crazy as a villainous plantation owner, while Brad Pitt shows up toward the film's conclusion and makes a speech about the evils of slavery right before our main character is rescued. This scene and Pitt's appearance as pretty much the only white person in the movie who's not either evil or indifferent seems a bit convenient given that he's a producer of the film.

Sarah Paulson is memorable as Fassbender's equally villainous wife, while Alfre Woodard has a tiny role that teases us with the more complex issues about black and white relations in the slavery-era South that this film could have addressed had it been more interested in something other than the literalness of human suffering.

Grade: C


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