Twelve Years a Slave (2013) 

 

 

 

Director:     Steve McQueen.

Starring:     Chiwetel Ejiofor (Solomon Northup), Dwight Henry (Uncle Abram), Dickie Gravois (Overseer), Bryan Batt (Judge Turner), Ashley Dyke (Anna), Kelsey Scott (Anne Northup), Quvenzhané Wallis (Margaret Northup), Cameron Zeigler (Alonzo Northup), Tony Bentley (Mr. Moon), Scoot McNairy (Brown), Taran Killam (Hamilton), Christopher Berry (Burch), Bill Camp (Radburn), Mister Mackey Jr. (Randall), Chris Chalk (Clemens), Craig Tate (John), Adepero Oduye (Eliza), Storm Reid (Emily), Tom Proctor (Biddee), Marc Macaulay (Captain), Vivian Fleming-Alvarez (Mulatto Woman), Michael K. Williams (Robert), Douglas M. Griffin (Sailor), John McConnell (Jonus Ray), Marcus Lyle Brown (Jasper), Richard Holden (Fitzgerald), Rob Steinberg (Parker), Paul Giamatti (Freeman), Anwan Glover (Cape), Benedict Cumberbatch (Ford), James C. Victor (Buyer), Liza J. Bennett (Mistress Ford), Nicole Collins (Rachel), J.D. Evermore (Chapin), Paul Dano (Tibeats), Michael Fassbender (Edwin Epps), Sarah Paulson (Mistress Epps), Lupita Nyong'o (Patsey), Andy Dylan (Treach), Deneen Tyler (Phebe), Mustafa Harris (Sam), Gregory Bright (Edward), Austin Purnell (Bob), Thomas Francis Murphy (Patroller), Andre De'Sean Shanks (Victim 1), Kelvin Harrison (Victim 2), Scott Michael Jefferson (Master Shaw), Alfre Woodard (Mistress Shaw), Isaiah Jackson (Zachary), Garret Dillahunt (Armsby), Topsy Chapman (Slave Spiritual Singer 1), Devin Maurice Evans (Slave Spiritual Singer 2), Brad Pitt (Bass), Jay Huguley (Sheriff), Devyn A. Tyler (Margaret Northup, adult), Willo Jean-Baptiste (Margaret's Husband).

Awards:  Academy Award for Best Picture of 2013; Academy award for Best Actress of 2013, .

a free black man living in Saratoga Springs, New York is kidnapped and taken to Louisiana to work as a slave

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

 

"This film is based on a true story."

 A bunch of black males are gathered out by the cane fields.  The overseer says:  "Y'all fresh niggers.  Y'all gonna be in a cutting gang."  The men start working cutting the cane.  At night many of the slaves sleep on the floor under very crowded conditions. 

A slave named Solomon Northup whittles a pen for writing.  He also tries to make an ink from the juice of blackberries.  The problem is that the ink is too watery and the pen is too crude.  Solomon deliberately knocks over his cup of "ink". 

Solomon sleeps next to a black woman and she wants to have sex with him.  Solomon is not sure about this, but the woman is persistent, so he touches her in the right places. She climaxes and then turns over and sobs. 

Flashback.  1841.  Solomon Northup is a freeman and his family is free.  He has a wife and two children, one a boy and one a girl.  He lives in the state of New York in the town of Saratoga.  He plays the fiddle for white folks to make his living.  He tucks his children into their beds. 

Solomon's family is going for three weeks and two days on a trip.  He says goodbye to his family as they prepare to leave.   

While walking in the park, a white man named Moon introduces Solomon to two white gentlemen, Brown and Hamilton.  Moon says he was just telling the gentleman that Solomon Northup is an expert player on the violin.  The two men say that they work for the circus company that is currently based in the city of Washington.  They say they are on their way to rejoin the company having left to make some money showing their own exhibitions.  The men would like Solomon to come with them to Washington.  He can play the violin for them during a two week period of time and then they will give him money to carry him back to Saratoga, New York. 

The men arrive in Washington.  A week's time goes by and the men pay Solomon $42 dollars in wages.  They even make a toast to Solomon and his great musical abilities. 

Solomon awakens.  When he moves, he hears the sound of chains clanking.  He finds that he is bound in chains.  He thinks about what happened to him last night.  He drank a lot of wine at the dinner.  He remembers throwing up in the street.  Solomon tries to get the chains off him, but they are impossible to remove.  He remembers the men taking him to his hotel room and putting him in bed. 

The door opens and two white slavers come in to taunt him.  The first man says:  "Well, boy, how do you feel now?"  Solomon starts explaining that he and his family are freemen.  The first man sets Solomon straight:  "You're not any free man."  The fellow says that Solomon is from Georgia.  In fact:  "You're nothing but a Georgia runaway.  You're just a runaway nigger from Georgia."  Now the second man, adjusts the chains bringing Solomon down on all fours.  The first man then commences to striking Solomon on the back with a wooden paddle, telling him that he's nothing but a Georgia slave.  Then he beats Solomon on the back with a rolled-up whip.  Then the two men leave the cell. 

Solomon goes to a window and yells for somebody to help him, but where he is held, the area is too isolated.  Later, the second man comes into the room and gives Solomon a sturdier shirt to wear.  The other shirt is all cut up and bloodied.  Solomon puts on the new pull-over shirt.    

In the prison complex three adult males and one boy have to wash themselves with soap and water.  The black men are naked.  The second white man tells Solomon to make sure the boy gets cleaned too.  The boy starts calling for his mama.  Solomon tries to get him to shut up, but he keeps on calling for mama.  Finally, Solomon swears to the boy that his mother will come for him, but he must be quiet for now.  The boy now stays silent. 

In the courtyard, the three black men talk together about their situation.  Solomon still doesn't realize what deep trouble he's really in.  He tells the other captives that he's certain the white men that he came down with are out looking for him right at this moment.  One of the other men says:  "I'd be just as certain they're counting the money paid for delivering you to this place."  He adds that reality will hit Solomon when they are transported south from here.  The man figures they will be taken to New Orleans.  The other captive says that he, John, is only being held as debt and that's all.  His master will pay his debt and John will be redeemed. 

The boy Randall is reunited with his mother and sister in the courtyard.  But the women are just as much slaves as the men. 

At night the jailers come for the group of slaves.  They hide them under a tarp of a wagon and transport them south.  They are put on a steam boat during the night.  The two white jailers, Burch and Radburn, make sure their slaves are seated properly in their places.  The steam boat wheel churns away making choppy waves on the river.  One of the slaves, Clemens, tells Solomon:  "If you want to survive, do and say as little as possible.  Tell no one who you really are and tell no one you can read and write.  Unless you want to be a dead nigger."

A white crew member comes to get Randall's mother, Eliza.  She will be used for sexual purposes.  A black man stands up to stop the crew member, who then shoves his knife into the black man's mid-section.  Solomon has to help throw over the dead body, wrapped in a tarp, into the river water. 

When the steamboat docks, a Mr. Jonus Ray asks for the captain.  The captain comes and Mr. Ray demands that Clemens Ray be released to him, his master.  Clemens is his property.  The captain comes down to look at the documents and then says to his crew to release Clemens immediately.  Now Solomon feels as if he's losing his best friend as Clemens helped Solomon adjust to his new situation.  He keeps shouting out for Clemens. 

Solomon remembers going shopping in town with his family.  He is spotted by a black man, who tells a white man about the free black man.  The owner of the general store is very polite to them.  Solomon says that his wife is going on a trip.  The shop owner says so another year has passed by again and the wife is off to work once more at Sandy Hill.  Anne Northup says that's right.  She buys a satchel to make the trip.  The black man spy goes into the general store and the white man follows and pulls him out, but not before he gets a good look at one Solomon Northup. 

Back at the docks, a white man named Freeman now handles the slaves.  The man calls the roll and each slave has to stand up.  Solomon is the last name to be called, but the name shouted out is Platt.  Solomon remains seated.  Freeman walks over to him and says that his appearance matches his description, so why didn't Platt stand up?  Solomon says his name is Solomon and he immediately gets slapped for that across the face.  Freeman says:  "Your name is Platt."  Then he says:  "Captain, gets these niggers to my cart."  The slaves get in the cart. 

They are taken to a house where they first have to get naked and wash themselves.  The men and the women are both naked together.  (brief nudity) 

After that the slaves are placed in different rooms, still naked.  Freeman brings in various clients to examine the merchandise.  Freeman sees a familiar face, that of a repeat customer, Mr. Ford.  Ford asks for Platt and Eliza.  Eliza speaks up and asks that Mr. Ford please not separate her from her children.  Randall is sold to another customer.  Ford asks to take Eliza's daughter with him and her mother and Platt.  Freeman says no, because she is light skinned and that will bring him a lot of money.  And, he says, no, he has no sentimentality about breaking up families.  So Ford has to settle for Platt and Eliza at a cost of $1,000 dollars for Platt and $700 dollars for Eliza. 

Mr. Ford arrives back home.  His wife comes out and wants to know why is this one (Eliza) crying?  She got separated from her children.  The wife says oh, that poor, poor woman, but she adds that some food and some rest and the children will soon be forgotten.  She can't even imagine that "these people" are really just people like the whites.  They see them more like beasts. 

Back to the present.   The slaves are lined up in a bunch.  A tall, young white man who doesn't look too sharp tells all the new slaves that his name is John Tibeats and he's William Ford's chief carpenter.  But the slave will refer to him as "Master".   Now, Mr. Chapin is the overseer on the plantation.  The slaves will also refer to him as "Master".  And now Tibeats sings a song about niggers having to run, run to get away from the pattyroller who is bound to catch them.

Ford serves as the preacher for his slaves. 

Walking down a trail in the swampy area, the slaves stop in their tracks.  In front of them, they see Seminole Indians ahead of them.  Both groups just stand and look at each other.  The Seminoles fix a fire and dance around it to the music from a Seminole home-made fiddle.  The slaves watch the Seminoles dance. 

Ford comes out to check on the work.  Solomon tells Ford that the creek is plenty deep enough to sail even with a full boat.  Solomon uses a couple of  "big words" by the white carpenter's standards and he asks Solomon:  "Are you an engineer, or a nigger?"  Tibeats says the nigger is scheming.  The passes are too tight.  Solomon (known as Platt) says he labored on repairing the Champlain canal. 

So Platt kind of supervises the slaves in widening the creek by cutting down and removing various obstacles.  He fixes a raft of tree trunks and demonstrates how he can row the raft with another raft in tow down the creek canal.  Platt is the hero of the day.  And Master John Tibeats doesn't like it one bit. 

Ford gives Platt a violin.  Platt is amazed at the generosity of the Master. 

Eliza is staying with Platt, but she is a big bother to Platt, because the woman can't stop crying for her children.  He yells at her to stop her wailing!  But Eliza just gets indignant saying she won't stop crying for her children.  She seems to have no empathy for how her wailing might negatively effect other people.  She accuses Platt of luxuriating in the favor of the Master.  Platt gets angry and shouts at her:  "I survive!  I will not fall into despair!"  Eiza tells him:  "You are no better than prized livestock."  She goes back to her sobbing. 

Master Ford tries to preach to the slaves, but Eliza spoils it by her constant crying.  Mistress Ford says to a woman slave:  "I cannot have that kind of depression about."

And here comes the carpenter to harass Platt who is fixing up a new building.  One of Platt's problems is the way he speaks to the carpenter, who is not an educated man.  The white man thinks Platt is deliberately trying to make him look bad with his knowledge and his was of talking.  All Platt accomplishes is to make an angrier enemy of John Tibeats.  Tibeats leaves after he yells at Solomon and kicks him with his boot.   

Platt sees Eliza being dragged away by a white and a black man.  She keeps yelling out for Solomon but Platt can't intervene.  He watches as she is dragged off somewhere. 

The next day Tibeats creates another confrontation with Platt about his work.  Tibeats gets so mad that he tells Platt to strip off his clothes.  He is going to give Platt a beating.  Platt tells him:  "I will not."  They struggle with each other and Platt is the quicker and stronger.  He takes Tibeats' belt from him and starts beating the white man.  Tibeats says that the nigger will not live to see another day!  Platt gets a little carried away and even continues after Tibeats has said he was sorry multiple times.   Chapin the overseer arrives and asks what is the matter?  Tibeats gets up and says he will have his revenge.  He walks away from the area.  Chapin tells Platt not to run, because if he runs off the plantation, he cannot protect Platt.  "Stay here!"

Platt sees three white men on horseback coming towards him.  They put a rope around Platt's neck, throw the other end of the rope over a tree limb and commence to hoisting Platt up off the ground.  Chapin with both hands holding a pistol comes over to the whites and says:  "Gentlemen, whoever moves that nigger is a dead man."  The three white men let go of their side of the rope. The rope drops down some, but not all the way, so Platt has to stand on his tippy-toes to prevent himself from hanging.   Chapin tells the two men with Tibeats to be gone and they take off.  Tibeats starts screaming that Platt is his now to do with as he pleases.  He quickly stops yelling when Chapin cocks one of his pistols and points it at Tibeats.  Tibeats turns around and runs off.  Chapin leaves Platt hanging there.  After a considerable time, Master Ford comes over and cuts the rope. 

Ford takes Platt into the house  and drops him in the main hall.  He gets a shotgun.  He tells Platt that he believes Tibeats is skulking around here somewhere and he wants Platt dead, ". . . and he will have it so.  It's no longer safe for you here."  He has transferred his debt to Edwin Epps.  He will take charge of Platt.  He says that Epps is a hard man, who prides himself on being a nigger breaker.  He tried to get others to take Platt, but no one would.  "You've made a reputation of yourself.  Whatever the circumstances, you are an exceptional nigger, Platt.  But I fear no good will come of it." 

At Epp's place, he quotes from the Bible a justification for beating a person with 40, 100 or 150 lashes if they do not obey their master.  He wants it to be crystal clear that he will have his slaves whipped at the slightest offense. 

Platt is out now picking cotton.  A slave keeps snapping his whip over the heads of the workers to get them to work faster. 

At the end of the work day, the cotton each slave picks is weighed.  An average weight is 200 pounds or so.  Platt only gets 182 pounds.  Epps complains that Platt isn't even an average picker.  Now Patsey is the champion picker.  She picked 512 pounds of cotton.  Epps calls her the "Queen of the Fields".  He also calls her "a nigger among niggers" and "born to the field".   He adds:  "And God gave her to me."  The two underachievers are pulled out of line, tied to a pole outside and whipped.   

At night Epps comes running over to the slave quarters and tells everybody to get up because tonight they dance!  He tells Platt to go get his fiddle. The slaves are dead tired and not in the mood for dancing.  Mistress sees her husband staring at Patsey dancing.  She walks over and picks up a liquor decanter and throws it at Patsey, hitting her in the right side of the face.  The Mistress now demands that her husband sell the negress.  She continues to demand that he sell Patsey until Epps tells her that he will not sell her.  She says he will sell that black bitch or she will take herself back to Cheneyville.  Now Epps tells her right out that he would sooner rid himself of his wife than of Patsey.  His wife walks off.  He tells the dancers to start dancing again. 

The Mistress calls Platt over to her.  She wants him to go to the general store and get some items for her.  Then he is to return home immediately.  She also warns him against learning to read.  She says it will cost him 100 lashes.

Platt starts running away, but he quickly runs into a group of slave catchers.  They are in the process of preparing to hang two slaves.  This scares Platt badly.  The leader questions Platt about what he is doing here?  Platt says he is going to the general store for Mrs. Epps.  The leader tells Platt then he better get going quickly.  He is suspicious of Platt being off the path and as Platt passes by him, the leader gives him a hard shove with his boot to Platt's back.  As Platt walks away the two slaves are raised off the ground to hang.  Platt gets to the store and brings back the groceries and other items for the Mistress.

Platt runs over to give Mr. Shaw a note from Master Epps.  The message is that Platt will bring Patsey back to the Epps plantation.  He asks Mr. Shaw if he can proceed?  Shaw says yes and Platt runs up the stairs to the fancy porch on the house.  Now Mistress Platt is a black woman and Platt excuses himself for the interruption.  Mistress Shaw and Patsey are having some tea and cookies and are busy talking.  Mistress greets Platt with:  "Nigger Platt."  Platt tells Patsey that Master wants her to return to the plantation.  Patsey objects that on Sundays she is free to roam.  Platt says this is what the Master told him.  Mistress Shaw tells Platt to sit down and have some tea, because Master's usual state is one of anger and he will be no happier if he returns with Patsey quickly. 

Platt comes home with Patsey.  Epps calls for Patsey, but Platt tells her do not look in Epps' direction, but continue on.  This infuriates the Master and he wants to know what Platt said to the girl just before she split off from him.  Platt says it was nothing of consequence.  Epps calls him a liar and starts going after Platt with a knife. Platt starts backing up, but Epps just pursues him.  Platt is able to stay out of the Master's reach.  Master tries to take a short-cut through the pig sty to get at Platt, but he slips and falls in the mud.  He gets up and tries to jump over the fence of the pig sty.  He doesn't make it and falls flat on his face.  For some reason, the Master just starts laughing.  Master is trying to trick Platt into thinking the Master has given up.  But Platt is pretty smart and he was expecting a trick.  What really brings the matter to a close is that the Mistress comes outside asking what is all this fuss about? 

Platt only has to mention Patsey to the Mistress and she gives her husband a tongue lashing:  "What is it?  You can't remain the Sabbath without her under your eye?  You are a no-account bastard.  A filthy, godless heathen.  My bed is too holy for you to share."

At night Epps comes and takes Patsey.  He has sex with her outside.  She more or less just lays there while the Master has sex with her body.  He starts to strangle her, but then stops.  He leaves. 

Platt goes to the general store again.  This time he stops on the way back and takes a piece of paper from the bunch of rolled up papers going to the Mistress.  He is thinking of writing a letter again. 

Epps gets the slaves up again in the middle of the night so they can dance for him.  Mistress Epps tries her best to start a fight with her husband, but he won't take the bait.  So, the Mistress cuts Patsey's right ear, making her cry out in pain. Epps takes Patsey with him and goes outside.  During the night, she comes to Epps ands asks him to slit her throat.  Epps says that is totally not right to ask him to risk total damnation in hell for murdering a woman. 

Epps has cotton worms in his fields.  He blames the slaves and their heathen ways for bringing God's wrath down on him in the form of the cotton worm.  So Epps rents out his workers at a low price to Judge Turner.  Epps tells his slave not to bring any disrespect upon him or he will take it out of their hides. 

Platt tries his blackberry ink which is a total failure.  He has a form of sex with a sexy woman. 

Judge Turner speaks to Platt.  There is a plantation owner that will be celebrating his birthday in three weeks.  The Judge will mention Platt to the plantation owner and, if everything works out, Platt can play his fiddle for the man and keep all the money he earns.  Platt indicates that he's interested. 

Platt plays for the plantation owner. 

Six slaves arrive home at Epps' place.  He tells the slaves that it is indeed a joyous day, because his niggers have done come back to him.  And the cotton is healthy now. 

In the fields the slaves pick the cotton again.  Platt only picked 160 pounds of cotton so he is going to be whipped.  A white slave named Armsby did much worse, but he is new to picking cotton.  He doesn't get whipped.  At night Armsby puts salve on the slash marks left by the whip on Platt's back.  Armsby says once upon a time he was a plantation overseer.  The problem is that he became too dependent on the whiskey and too undependable on the job.  He says what brought him down is the brutality of the job of an overseer.  "I say, no man of conscious can take the lash to another human day in and day out without shredding at his own self."

Platt goes and gets his fiddling money.  He brings the money to Armsby and says he will give him the money, if he will promise to mail a letter to his family in New York.  He begs Armsby not to expose him if he cannot grant the request.  Armsby says he will do it.  He tells Platt to draw up his letter.  They will meet again in two days. 

Platt makes another pen and makes another batch of "ink". 

One night Epps comes to see Platt.  He reveals that Armsby turned him in.  He asks what does Platt have to say to that?  Platt gives a brilliant performance.  He says:  "There's no truth to it. How could I write a letter without ink or paper?  Who am I gonna write to?  I got no friends living as I know of.  . . . That Armsby is a lying, drunken fellow.  Didn't he want you to hire him as an overseer?  Well, that's it.  He wants to make you believe we're all gonna run away so you'll hire him as an overseer.  He believes you're soft soap.  And he's given to such talk. . . .  It's all a lie, Master.  It's all a lie."  The master believes what Platt told him.  He hints that if Armsby were not free and white he would kill him with his knife, but the man is free and white. 

A male slave, an older man, dies right while picking cotton in the fields.  Platt has to help bury the man.  They say some nice words over Uncle Abram's grave.  The slaves have a funeral.  They sing a song about roll, Jordan River, roll.  Platt finally joins in the singing. 

Platt works with a white non-southerner named Bass on building a structure for Epps.  Epps tells Bass that something about the work here is bothering Bass and he wants him to spit it out.   So Bass tells him plainly that the work conditions for the laborers is horrid here.    He adds that ". . . there is no justice nor righteousness in their slavery."  He continues by saying: "It is a fact, a plain and simple fact that what is true and right is true and right for all.  White and black alike."  Epps doesn't care about Bass' beautiful sentiments.  He says those words might be okay if Bass was living in New England, but this here is the South. 

Epps goes crazy and demands to know from the slaves, where is Patsey.  He scares the women slaves a great deal. 

Patsey comes home and is attacked immediately by Epps who screams at her that she ran away.  Platt is concerned that Epps might hurt Patsey and he tries to run interference, bug gets slapped by Epps for interfering.  Patsey now puts her body between Epps and Platt saying that she went to Master Shaw's plantation. She says she went there to get this little bar of soap from Mistress Shaw.  She starts crying and says:  "I stink so much, I make myself gag!"  Epps says that she's a liar.  Patsey says Epps is blind with his own covetousness!  Epps says he's going to teach Patsey not to go to Shaw's plantation.  He calls for Treach to prepare Patsey for a whipping. 

The back part of Patsey's dress is stripped off her.  She is tied to a post.  Epps is going to do the whipping. His wife urges Epps to do it, do it.  "Strike the life from her!"   Epps can't do it so he turns the job over to Platt.  He keeps yelling at Platt until he comes over and starts to whip Patsey, who tells him she would prefer Platt do the whipping.  The Mistress says that Platt is not whipping Patsey hard enough  "There's barely a welt on her."  Platt is using a side arm technique that is a less powerful strike.  The mistress says to her husband that the niggers are making a fool of him.  So Epps takes Treach's pistol and puts it up to Platt's head.  He says if he doesn't draw both blood and meat off Patsey that he will kill every nigger in his sight.  "Strike her!  Strike her!"

Now Platt switches to an overhand strike and Patsey really starts screaming.  Platt can't take it after awhile and he stops whipping Patsey.  So Epps now takes over after pushing Platt on the ground and hitting him with the whip.  Now he starts in on Patsey. 

Platt says that somewhere, sometime Epps will have to answer for this sin.  Southerner Epps says there is no sin.  Man does how he pleases with his property.  But, at least, the brute stops whipping Patsey.  The women put salve on her back.  Patsey sobs with the pain. 

Platt tightens the strings on his violin so tight that he breaks all the strings.  Then he destroys the violin itself. 

Working with Bass again, Platt asks him from what part of the country is he?  Bass says:  "No part of this land."  He says he originated from Canada.  Platt says he knows Canada well.  This intrigues Bass and he asks how did Platt ever wind up in the deep South?  Platt says he's afraid to tell Bass his story.  Bass swears that every word Platt utters will be a profound secret to him.  So Platt tells Bass his story.

Platt then begs Bass to write his friends in the north acquainting them with his situation and beseeching them to forward free papers to him.  He so badly wants to see his wife and children again.  Bass admits that what Platt is asking him to do, scares him.  Yes, he is afraid.  He sees Treach headed over their way.  He stands up and tells Platt:  "I will write your letter, sir."   Now he starts in to working again. 

Solomon is working in the fields.  A sheriff drives up to the plantation and yells for Platt.  Platt comes over to him.  The sheriff asks if he knows that man over by the carriage.  Platt strains his eyes to get a good look at the man.  He says that's Mr. Parker, the owner of the general store in Saratoga.  The sheriff says that Mr. Parker got a letter with many disturbing accusations.  Epps comes over to put a stop to whatever is going on here.  The sheriff tells Epps that his business will have to wait.  Now Solomon Northup walks quickly over to embrace Mr. Parker.  Epps is really upset but now he has to tussle with two white men who have the law on their side. 

Solomon hurries to get on the carriage to get out of the South and its slavery.  Patsey runs over and yells for Platt.  Solomon goes over to her and they hug each other.  Solomon returns to the carriage and off they go. 

Solomon comes home to Saragtoga.  He goes into his house and his family is waiting there for him.  He sees his wife, son and daughter.  In addition, there is a huge black man in the room with a baby in his arms.  This is his daughter's husband and the baby is Solomon's grandchild.  Solomon, with tears in his eyes, says he apologizes to his family for his appearance.  "But I have had a difficult time these past several years."  His daughter comes to him first.  She cries and hugs her father.  Father cries some more.  Now father meets his son-in-law and his grandson.  The child's name is Solomon Northup Staunton.  Now elder Solomon really starts crying and asks his wife Anne to forgive him.  She kisses him and says there's nothing to forgive.  

Solomon Northup was one of the few victims of kidnapping to regain freedom from slavery.  Solomon brought the man responsible for his abduction to trial.  Unable to testify against whites in the nation's capital, he lost the case against the slave pen owner, James Burch.  After lengthy legal proceedings in New York, his kidnappers Hamilton and Brown also avoided prosecution.  In 1853 Solomon published the book Twelve Years a Slave.  He became active in the abolitionist movement, lectured on slavery throughout the Northeastern United States and aided fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad.  The date, location and circumstances of Solomon's death are unknown. 

 

Great movie.  And a much needed movie as racism has grown so strong again in the United States following the Massive Resistance against the civil rights laws of the 1960s.  I personally have heard so many different racist lies about slavery by people from all over the place.  And these people have no idea how much they disgrace and dishonor themselves for apologizing for slavery.  I still ask:  What kind of people are these?  Do they even believe in any type of God or human decency?  So it's good to see once again the true evils of slavery in the United States.  Now the racists will have to work to undermine the truthfulness of the story in Twelve Years a Slave.  And some advise to my fellow humans:  don't go around saying that slavery was not so bad.  You just make yourself look like a fool, a jerk and an idiot.  But one thing racists never care about:  the truth.  And they will keep on making their devil-driven statements "apologizing" for slavery.  

You do know that there was an earlier version of Twelve Years a Slave, entitled:  Solomon Northup's Odyssey: "Twelve Years a Slave" (1984)  --  a free black man living in Saratoga Springs, New York is kidnapped and taken to Louisiana to work as a slave.  It is a very good movie too, but certainly never got even nominated as best picture.  But in 1984 there wasn't as clear a reason for the need to fight publicly and hard for a true depiction of slavery in the South  --  to put the lie of the racists on trial so to speak. 

I though as Solomon Northup was very good.  And so, of course, was .  I also liked Michael Fassbender as Master Epps and Paul Dano as carpenter and master Tibeats.

Glad the movie won best picture of 2013. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

Return To Main Page

Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)