AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Detailed View of Movie
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Title: 12 Years a Slave

Production Company: Plan B Entertainment  
  River Road Entertainment  
  Film4  
  Regency  
Production Text:
Regency Enterprises and River Road Entertainment present
a River Road, Plan B and New Regency production
In association with Film 4
a film by Steve McQueen
Distribution Company: Fox Searchlight Pictures  

Release Date: 2013
Premiere Information: Los Angeles and New York openings: 18 Oct 2013
Production Date: began Jun 2012 in Louisiana
Duration (in mins): 134
PCA NO: 48296
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby® Digital in selected theatres; Digital DTS Sound in selected theaters
  col:
  Lenses/Prints: Film, prints and laboratory Deluxe

Producer: Brad Pitt (Prod)
  Dede Gardner (Prod)
  Jeremy Kleiner (Prod)
  Bill Pohlad (Prod)
  Steve McQueen {British director} (Prod)
  Arnon Milchan (Prod)
  Anthony Katagas (Prod)
  Tessa Ross (Exec prod)
  John Ridley (Exec prod)
  Bianca Stigter (Assoc prod)
Director: Steve McQueen {British director} (Dir)
  Anthony Katagas (Unit prod mgr)
  Doug Torres (1st asst dir)
  James Roque, Jr. (2d asst dir)
  Sherman Shelton, Jr. (2d 2d asst dir)
  Nathan Parker (Addl 2d 2d asst dir)
Writer: John Ridley (Wrt)
Photography: Sean Bobbitt (Dir of photog)
  Sean Bobbitt (Cam op)
  Brett Walters (1st asst cam)
  Matt Gaumer (2d asst cam)
  Melanie Gates (Film loader)
  Jaap Buitendijk (Still photog)
  Francois Duhamel (Still photog)
  Darren Wallace (Cam intern)
  Victor Brunette (Video playback)
  Larry McConkey (Steadicam op)
  Andy Shuttleworth (Steadicam op)
  T. Nick Leon (Key grip)
  Lee McLemore (Best boy grip)
  Joe Cassano (Dolly grip)
  Chip Bryson (Grip)
  R. Scott Lebell (Grip)
  Rachel S. Perlis (Grip)
  Richard Ramee (Grip)
  Marvin Thomas White (Grip)
  Frankie Jones (Key rigging grip)
  Scott Calcagno (Best boy rigging grip)
  Eric DePoorter (Rigging grip)
  Michael B. McLaughlin (Gaffer)
  Erskin Mitchell (Best boy elec)
  Mike "Chewie" Pappas (Genny op)
  Mark Davis (Elec)
  Byron Marigny (Elec)
  Scott Morrison (Elec)
  Victor Keatley (Rigging gaffer)
  Brad "Meaux" Gremillion (Best boy rigging gaffer)
  Cineworks (Telecine and film laboratory)
  Vince Hogan (Telecine and film laboratory)
  Boyd Ford (Telecine and film laboratory)
  Camera Service Center (Cameras)
  Cinelease (Lighting and grip equip)
  Orange Whip Grip (Lighting and grip equip)
  Hellfire Rigging, LLC (Lighting and grip equip)
  Chapman Leonard Studio Equipment, Inc. (Cam cranes and dollies)
Art Direction: Adam Stockhausen (Prod des)
  David Stein (Art dir)
  Carl Counts (Art dept coord)
  Leia Verner (Art dept prod asst)
Film Editor: Joe Walker (Ed)
  Javier Marcheselli (1st asst ed)
  Lee Tucker (Preview projection eng)
  Pivotal Post (AVID ed systems)
Set Decoration: Alice Baker (Set dec)
  Matthew Gatlin (Set des)
  Walter Schneider (Set des)
  Carl Sprague (Set des)
  Jim Wallis (Set des)
  Grahme Perez (Set dressing buyer)
  Jill Broadfoot (Addl buyer)
  Michael A. Johnson (Leadman)
  Alixandra Petrovich (On set dresser)
  Kenneth Chauvin (Set dresser)
  Walt Dickerson (Set dresser)
  Shelly Moore Sanchez (Set dresser)
  Zachary Dickerson (Set dresser)
  Gregg Harney (Set dresser)
  Joie Todd Kerns (Set dresser)
  J. Michelle Lacayo (Set dresser)
  Kevin C. Lang (Set dresser)
  Erik Malkovich (Set dresser)
  Siobhan O'Brien (Set dresser)
  Gordon Thomas (Set dresser)
  Rob Joy (Greensperson)
  Nick Rippon (Greensperson)
  Russell Doyle (Greensperson)
  Jason Ament (Greensperson)
  Rick Andreotta (Greensperson)
  Natalie Natell (Greensperson)
  Michael S. Martin (Prop master)
  Jorin Ostroska (Asst prop master)
  Heather Korman (Prop asst)
  David Rotondo (Const coord)
  Thomas C. Sola (General foreman)
  David Henry Buck (Const foremen)
  Dudley Merritt (Const foremen)
  Erik Van Haaren (Loc foreman)
  Jason Allard (Gangboss)
  Mark A. Digiantommaso (Gangboss)
  Sam Rotondo (Const prod asst)
  Douglas Cluff (Charge scenic)
  Dan Joy (Scenic foreman)
  Ed Rezendes (Paint foreman)
  Victoria Erny-St. Pierre (On set painter)
  Taylor Weeks (Scenic artist)
  Jude Erny (Scenic artist)
  Paul Fraser (Const medic)
Costumes: Patricia Norris (Cost des)
  Patrick Wiley (Asst cost des)
  Andree Fortier (Cost supv)
  Aaron P. Mastin (Key costumer)
  Dena Matranga (Key set costumer)
  Julie Ann Ebel (Costumer)
  Megan C. Richardson (Costumer)
  Shonta T. McCray (Costumer)
  Joni M. Huth (Cost shop supv)
  Scott T. Coppock (Ager/dyer)
  Jade Brandt (Tailor)
  Brandon P. Watson (Tailor)
  Constadina Homayuni (Cost prod asst)
  Laura Sumich (Cost prod asst)
Music: Hans Zimmer (Mus)
  Nicholas Britell (Addl mus)
  Tim Fain (Violin performances)
  Anne C. Hibbs Diel (Violin instructor)
  Benjamin Wallfisch (Addl mus)
  Ann Marie Calhoun (Featured musician)
  Nico Abondolo (Featured musician)
  Tristan Schulze (Featured musician)
  Bob Badami (Score wrangler)
  Steven Kofsky (Mus prod services)
  Czarina Russell (Score coord)
  Catherine Wilson (Mus ed)
  Katrina Schiller (Mus ed)
  Brian Wherry (Tech consultants)
  Chuck Choi (Tech consultants)
  Victoria de la Vega (Tech consultants)
  Mark Wherry (Digital instrument des)
  Daniel Kresco (Score mixer)
  Remote Control Productions (Rec and mixing studio)
  Christine Bergren (Mus legal)
Sound: Kirk Francis (Prod sd mixer)
  Robert Jackson (Boom op)
  Chris Welcker (2d unit sd mixer)
  Wildfire Studios (Post-prod sd provided by)
  Leslie Shatz (Sd des)
  Ryan Collins (Supv sd ed)
  Robert C. Jackson (Supv sd ed)
  Leslie Shatz (Re-rec mixer)
  Ryan Collins (Re-rec mixer)
  Jon Vogl (Sd eff ed)
  Callie Thurman (Asst sd ed)
  Sang Kim (Asst sd ed)
  Henry Auerbach (Dial ed)
  Chris Navarro (ADR mixer)
  Brian Dunlop (Foley ed)
  Ellen Heuer (Foley artist)
  Joshua Reinhardt (Foley mixer)
  Timothy Limer (Mix rec)
  Jordan O`Neill (Datasat sd consultant)
  Bryan Arenas (Dolby sd consultant)
Special Effects: Tinsley Studios (Spec eff prosthetics)
  David Nash (Spec eff coord)
  James Gorman (Spec eff foreman)
  Matt Hahn (Spec eff tech)
  Vertigo (Main/end title des)
  Antony Buonomo (Main/end title des)
  Wildfire Post NOLA (Visual eff)
  Dottie Starling (Visual eff supv, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Lauren Ritchie (Visual eff prod, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Katie McCall (Visual eff coord, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Elbert Irving, IV (Visual eff coord, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Andrey Drogobetski (Lead visual eff compositor, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Rocco Gioffre (Lead matte painter, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Anthony Castro (Compositor, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Victor Fernandez (Compositor, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Andrew Stillinger (Compositor, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Ligia Weibelt (Roto/2d, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Steven Young (Asst prod coord, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Greg-Paul Malone (Flame artist, Wildfire Post NOLA)
  Crafty Apes (Addl visual eff)
  Tim LeDoux (Visual eff supv, Crafty Apes)
  Chris LeDoux (Digital eff supv, Crafty Apes)
Make Up: Ma Kalaadevi Ananda (Dept head make-up)
  Nick London (Key make-up artist)
  Denise Pugh-Ruiz (Make-up artist)
  Nikki Brown (Make-up artist)
  Jean A. Black (Make-up artist and hair stylist to Brad Pitt)
  Nana Fishcher (Make-up artist and hair stylist to Michael Fassbender)
  Adruitha Lee (Dept head hairstylist)
  Amy Wood (Key hairstylist)
  Betty W. Hammac (Hairstylist)
  Yolanda Mercadel (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Francine Maisler (Casting)
  Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Historical consultant)
  Alissa M. Kantrow (Prod supv)
  James Masi (Post prod supv)
  Jeremy Edwards (Post prod asst)
  Mieneke Kramer (Post prod asst, Amsterdam)
  Eva Z. Cabrera (Scr supv)
  Ruth Kesler (Prod coord)
  Sara Denson (Asst prod coord)
  Natalie Borlaug (Travel coord)
  Emilie Staat (Prod secy)
  Dennis Ray Mitchell (Office prod asst)
  Max Segal (Office prod asst)
  Michael Buster (Dialect coach)
  Sid Yost (Animal coord)
  Craig Carter (Animal wrangler)
  Daphne A. Guichard (Medic)
  M. Gerard Sellers (Loc mgr)
  Patricia Nelkin (Asst loc mgr)
  John F. Collins (Loc asst)
  Dave Fields (Loc asst)
  Taylor Newman (Loc asst)
  Ron Uribe (Loc asst)
  Albert Moten, Jr. (Loc asst)
  B'Coolers (Mobile air conditioning units)
  Del Holt (Mobile air conditioning tech)
  Poland Perkins (Transportation coord)
  Earl R. Hurst, Jr. (Transportation capt)
  Gwendalane Ramos (Dispatcher)
  Desiree Stevenson (Set prod asst)
  Lindsey Fredieu (Set prod asst)
  Jonathan Warren (Set prod asst)
  Jesse Chicco (Set prod asst)
  Derrick Bentley Wells (Set prod asst)
  Anamarie Gonzaga (Prod accountant)
  Joan Zulfer Deplewski (1st asst accountant)
  Cathy Zulfer (2d asst accountant)
  Boysie Jereza (2d asst accountant)
  Ariane Chatman (Payroll accountant)
  Jonathan Jefferies (Accounting clerk)
  Trevanna Post, Inc. (Post prod accounting)
  Dee Schuka (Post prod accounting)
  Jolynn Martin (Asst to Mr. Pohlad)
  Shelley Tassin (Asst to Ms. Gardner and Mr. Kleiner)
  Christina Oh (Asst to Ms. Gardner and Mr. Kleiner)
  Geoffrey Booth (Asst to Mr. Katagas)
  Nazia Khan (Asst to Mr. Pitt)
  April Lamb (Asst to Mr. McQueen)
  Eva Thomassen (Asst to Mr. McQueen)
  Jessica Pregnolato (Asst to Mr. McQueen)
  Kathy Driscoll-Mohler (Casting assoc)
  Melissa Kostenbauder (Casting assoc)
  Elizabeth Chodar (Casting asst)
  Elizabeth Day (Casting asst)
  RPM Casting (New Orleans casting)
  Meagan Lewis (New Orleans casting)
  Caballero Casting (Extras casting)
  Brent Caballero (Extras casting)
  Charlotte Gale (Extras casting asst)
  Barbara Harris (Voice casting)
  Location Gourmet, Inc. (Caterer)
  John Landers (Craft service)
  Charlotte Lancaster (Craft service asst)
  Dottie Buck (Craft service asst)
  Crescent Film Services, LLC (Set security)
  Clearview Protection Services (Security for Mr. Pitt)
  Rich Malchar (Security for Mr. Pitt)
  Hollywood Script Research (Scr clearances)
  Spooky Stevens (Unit pub)
  Mitch Horwits (President, For River Road Entertainment)
  Mike Reinarts (Chief financial officer, For River Road Entertainment)
  Andrew Golov (Prod exec, For River Road Entertainment)
  Christa Zofcin (EVP, Business and legal affairs, For River Road Entertainment)
  Sarah Hammer (Head of development, For River Road Entertainment)
  Angie Miller (Mgr, Business and legal affairs, For River Road Entertainment)
  Jessica Smith (Prod coord, For River Road Entertainment)
  Tom Skapars (Development exec, For River Road Entertainment)
  Felicity Donarski (Controller, For River Road Entertainment)
  Camille Campbell (Asst to Mr. Horwits, For River Road Entertainment)
  Harry Dixon (Head of business affairs, For Film4)
  Geraldine Atlee (Head of legal, For Film4)
  Sam Lavender (Head of development, For Film4)
  Sue Bruce-Smith (Head of commercial development, For Film4)
  Ease Entertainment Services (Prod accounting)
  Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machringer LLP (Prod legal)
  Ken Basin (Prod legal)
  Alexander J. Plitt (Prod legal)
  Gallagher Entertainment (Insurance)
  OneBeacon (Insurance)
  Film Finances, Inc. (Completion guaranty)
  Summit Entertainment (International sales and distribution)
Stand In: Andy Dylan (Stunt coord)
  Steven Ritzi (Stunt coord)
  Lex Geddings (Stunt coord)
  Kortney T. Manns (Stunt performer)
  Dother Sykes, IV (Stunt performer)
  Michael Ortiz (Stunt performer)
  Jason Ament (Stunt performer)
  Nicoye Banks (Stunt performer)
  Tiffany Jackson Billiot (Stunt performer)
  Christian J. Fletcher (Stunt performer)
  Kerry Rossall (Stunt performer)
  Sean Paul Braud (Stunt performer)
  John Zimmerman (Stunt performer)
  Chris Bryant (Stunt performer)
  Chris Fanguy (Stunt performer)
  Thirl R. Haston (Stunt performer)
  Alan D'Antoni (Stunt performer)
  Jeff Galpin (Stunt performer)
  Tim Bell (Stunt performer)
  Aaron Williamson (Stunt performer)
Color Personnel: Company 3 (Digital intermediate services)
  Tom Poole (DI col)
  Giovanni DiGiorgio (DI asst)
  John Diesso (DI conform)
  Joe Guzman (DI project mgr, Los Angeles)
  Anne Johnson (DI project mgr, New York)
  David Feldman (Account exec)

Music Text: "Trio In B-Flat, D471," written by Franz Schubert, arranged by Nicholas Britell and Tim Fain, performed by Tim Fain and Caitlin Sullivan.
Song Text: "My Lord, Sunshine," written by Nicholas Britell, performed by Roosevelt Credit and David Hughey; "The Devil's Dream," arranged by Nicholas Britell and Tim Fain, performed by Tim Fain; "The Old Promenade," written by Nicholas Britell, performed by Tim Fain; "Money Musk," arranged by Nicholas Britell and Tim Fain, performed by Tim Fain; "Run Nigger Run," collected, adapted and arranged by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax; "Awake On Foreign Shores," written and performed by Colin Stetson, courtesy of Constellation, by arrangement with Third Side Music Inc.; "Apache Blessing Song," written and performed by Chesley Wilson; "Cotton Song," written by Nicholas Britell; "Miller's Reel," arranged by Nicholas Britell and Tim Fain, performed by Tim Fain; "Yarney's Waltz," written by Nicholas Britell, performed by Tim Fain and Caitlin Sullivan; "O Teach Me Lord," written by Nicholas Britell, performed by Tami Tyree, Roosevelt Credit, David Hughey, and Dan'yelle Williamson; "John," written by John Davis; "Roll Jordan Roll," written by Nicholas Britell.
Source Text: Based on the book Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup (1853).
Source Authors: Solomon Northup
Music Composer: Nicholas Britell
  John Davis
  Franz Schubert
  Colin Stetson
  Chesley Wilson

Cast:   Chiwetel Ejiofor (Solomon Northup)  
    Michael Fassbender (Edwin Epps)  
    Benedict Cumberbatch (Ford)  
    Paul Dano (Tibeats)  
    Garret Dillahunt (Armsby)  
    Paul Giamatti (Freeman)  
    Scoot McNairy (Brown)  
    Lupita Nyong'o (Patsey)  
    Adepero Oduye (Eliza)  
    Sarah Paulson (Mistress Epps)  
    Brad Pitt (Bass)  
    Michael Kenneth Williams (Robert)  
    Alfre Woodard (Mistress Shaw)  
    Chris Chalk (Clemens)  
    Taran Killiam (Hamilton)  
    Bill Camp (Radburn)  
    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)  
    Christopher Berry (Burch)  
    Mister Mackey, Jr. (Randall)  
    Craig Tate (John)  
    Storm Reid (Emily)  
    Tom Proctor (Biddee)  
    Marc Macaulay (Captain)  
    Vivian Fleming-Alvarez (Mulatto woman)  
    Douglas M. Griffin (Sailor)  
    John McConnell (Jonus Ray)  
    Marcus Lyle Brown (Jasper)  
    Richard Holden (Fitzgerald)  
    Rob Steinberg (Parker)  
    Anwan Glover (Cape)  
    J. C. Victor (Buyer)  
    Liza J. Bennett (Mistress Ford)  
    Nicole Collins (Rachel)  
    JD Evermore (Chapin)  
    Andy Dylan (Treach)  
    Deneen D. Tyler (Phebe)  
    Mustafa Harris (Sam)  
    Gregory Bright (Edward)  
    Austin Purnell (Bob)  
    Thomas Francis Murphy (Patroller)  
    Andre Shanks (Victim 1)  
    Kelvin Harrison (Victim 2)  
    Scott M. Jefferson (Master Shaw)  
    Isaiah Jackson (Zachary)  
    Topsy Chapman (Slave spiritual singer 1)  
    Devin Maurice Evans (Slave spiritual singer 2)  
    Jay Huguley (Sheriff)  
    Devyn A. Tyler (Margaret Northup (adult))  
    Willo Jean-Baptiste (Margaret's husband)  

Summary: African American Solomon Northup stands amidst a group of slaves in a field. They are instructed to cut sugar cane, and Solomon goes to work. At night, he tries to write a letter using blackberry juice and a stick. Sleeping in a crowded slave barracks, Solomon responds to the sexual advances of a female slave by helping her come to orgasm. She cries afterward, and Solomon thinks about his wife. Sometime earlier, in 1841 Saratoga, New York, Solomon, a free man, plays violin at a party. At home, he says goodnight to his two children, Margaret and Alonzo, and lies in bed with his wife, Anne, who tells him she must go out of town for three weeks to work as a cook. After Anne and the children leave town, Solomon is approached by Mr. Moon, an acquaintance, who introduces him to two white travelers, Mr. Brown and Mr. Hamilton, looking for "distinguished individuals" for their circus. Promising to pay his way to Washington, D.C., and back, they convince Solomon to perform with them for two weeks. Upon reaching Washington, D.C., the men celebrate their earnings at a lavish dinner. Brown and Hamilton encourage Solomon to drink a lot of wine, and he becomes sick. The next morning, Solomon wakes up in a barracks, bound in chains. Burch and Radburn, two white slavers, inform him that he is a "runaway from Georgia," and refuse to listen when he claims to be a free man with a family. Burch beats him, forcing Solomon to acknowledge he is a slave. During the night, Solomon and several other hostages are put aboard a boat. Clemens, a former slave kidnapped from his owner, advises Solomon to do and say as little as possible, and tell no one he can read or write. Robert, another hostage, tries to recruit Clemens and Solomon in a mutiny, but later that night, Robert is stabbed to death when he tries to stop a sailor from raping Eliza, who was kidnapped with her two children. As the boat docks in a Southern state, Jonas Ray arrives for Clemens, providing paperwork that says he is his property. Clemens runs to Ray, hugging him gratefully. Later, Solomon is given the name "Platt" by Freeman, a white slaver who sells him and Eliza to a plantation owner named Ford. Although Eliza begs Ford not to break up her family, her son is sold to someone else and Freeman keeps her daughter because she is beautiful and will earn him a lot of money. At Ford's plantation, chief carpenter, John Tibeats, introduces Solomon and several others to Chapin, the overseer. Tibeats instructs them to call Chapin "Master" and forces them to clap their hands as he sings a racist song. One day, Solomon recommends that Ford transport his timber using a creek on the property, but Tibeats claims the waterway is too narrow. Impressed with Solomon, Ford takes his advice and, later, gives him a violin. Missing her children, Eliza sobs and wails outside the slaves' quarters, and Solomon yells at her to stop. She accuses him of kowtowing, and reminds him that Ford is doing nothing to help him get back to his own family. After Eliza cries through a Sunday religious service, Mistress Ford has her removed from the property. Tibeats criticizes Solomon's work as he nails clapboards to the outside of a new building. Later, finding more fault with Solomon's work, Tibeats orders him to strip for a whipping. Solomon struggles with Tibeats, steals his whip, and lashes him, instead. That afternoon, Tibeats hangs Solomon from a tree, but Chapin stops Tibeats from killing him, saying he is technically Ford's property. Chapin leaves Solomon hanging from the rope as he goes to fetch Ford, but his toes barely touch the ground, and he must struggle to stay alive. As the sun goes down, Ford finally arrives to cut Solomon down. He admits that Solomon is exceptional, but fears no good will come of it. Insisting he is no longer safe, Ford transfers Solomon to Edwin Epps, a notoriously brutal slave owner. At Epps's plantation, Solomon picks cotton. When his haul comes in under the average two hundred pounds, he is whipped, along with other slaves whose productivity has declined. Hearing that a young woman, Patsy, has picked over five hundred pounds, Epps grasps her shoulders and calls her a "queen." That night, a drunken Epps barges into the slaves' quarters and orders everyone to get up for a dance party. Solomon plays violin while the other slaves dance in Epps's home. Seeing Patsy dance, Mistress Epps throws a crystal liquor decanter at her head and tells Epps he must sell her. He refuses, saying he will rid himself of Mistress Epps first. When Solomon is sent to town for groceries, he contemplates running away, but changes his mind when he sees two slaves being hanged in the forest. On a Sunday, Solomon is sent to the Shaw plantation to retrieve Patsy. There, he finds her having tea with Mistress Shaw, who is African American. Mistress Shaw asks why Epps is cutting Patsy's visit short, and Solomon replies that Epps does not trust Master Shaw and believes he is a Lothario. Although Solomon apologizes for offending her, Mistress Shaw says she has no problem turning a blind eye to her husband's infidelity if it keeps her out of slavery. Upon returning, Epps overhears Solomon telling Patsy to ignore him and drunkenly chases after Solomon. However, Mistress Epps intervenes, disgusted by her husband's obsession with Patsy. That night, Epps sneaks into the slaves' quarters, wakes Patsy, and takes her outside to rape her. Sometime later, Solomon is sent to buy groceries and a ream of paper. He steals one sheet and hides it. Before going to bed, Mistress Epps feeds the slaves baked goods, but tells Patsy she cannot have any, then scratches the girl's face as further punishment. Later, Patsy rouses Solomon and offers him a piece of jewelry she stole from Mistress Epps; in exchange, she asks him to drown her, but he refuses. Cotton worms attack Epps's plants, forcing him to loan Solomon and several other slaves to Judge Turner, the owner of a neighboring plantation. One day, Turner asks Solomon to play violin at an anniversary party for his neighbor, saying he can keep the money he earns. Epps takes Solomon and the others back after the cotton worms are gone, and Solomon is again whipped for his low productivity. Epps hires Armsby, a white man, to pick cotton. When he joins the others in the slaves' quarters, Armsby explains that he was an overseer but became an alcoholic because he could not handle the guilt he feels whipping slaves. Armsby claims he just needs to earn enough money to get home, and Solomon offers him his earnings from playing violin in exchange for one favor: that Armsby mail a letter for him. That night, Solomon writes a letter; however, Armsby betrays Solomon by telling Epps, who wakes him in the middle of the night. Solomon denies he wrote a letter, and convinces Epps that Armsby is vying for a promotion. When Epps leaves, Solomon burns his letter. A white man named Bass begins working on Epps's plantation. Although Epps tries to befriend him by offering him a drink, Bass declines and asserts his disapproval of slavery, saying there will be a day of reckoning for slavers. One day, Epps searches the plantation for Patsy in a rage. When she finally returns, confessing that she went to Master Shaw's to retrieve a bar of soap, Epps orders her to be stripped and tied to a post. When he cannot bring himself to do it, Epps forces Solomon to lash her. Pressing a gun to Solomon's face, Epps commands him to strike harder, then finishes the brutal beating himself, leaving Patsy's back covered in gaping wounds. When Bass asks how Solomon ended up at Epps's plantation, Solomon is afraid to respond, but Bass promises to keep his story secret. Solomon reveals his true identity and begs Bass to write his friends in the North, asking to forward his free papers. Although Bass fears for their lives, he agrees to write the letter. Sometime later, a sheriff arrives in search of "Platt." When Solomon answers, the sheriff asks him to identify a white man in his carriage. Solomon recognizes the man as Mr. Barker, a shop owner from Saratoga. Epps tries to intervene, but the sheriff wards him off as Solomon runs to hug Mr. Barker. Before boarding the carriage, Solomon embraces Patsy. Returning home, Solomon wearily greets his wife and grown children, and a young man holding a baby. He apologizes for his appearance and his daughter, Margaret, approaches him for a hug. She introduces him to her husband and baby, also named Solomon. Crying, Solomon asks forgiveness, but Anne assures him there is nothing to forgive. 

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Historical
 
Subject Major: Abduction
  African Americans
  Racism
  Slavery
  United States--History--1815-1861
  United States--South
 
Subject Minor: Abolitionists
  Boats
  Circus performers
  Cotton
  Family relationships
  Hanging
  Infidelity
  Interracial relationships
  Jealousy
  Lynching
  Missing persons
  Plantations
  Rape
  Saratoga (NY)
  Slave auctions
  Slave traders
  Smuggling
  Violinists
  Voyages and travel
  Washington (D.C.)
  Whips and whippings

Note: The film opens with the text, "This film is based on a true story."
       After the final scene, the following statements appear before the end credits: "Solomon Northup was one of the few victims of kidnapping to regain freedom from slavery;" "Solomon brought the men 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 1833 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;" and "The date, location and circumstances of Solomon's death are unknown."
       End credits include a "Special Thanks" to: the State of Louisiana; Cast & Crew Entertainment Services; Nims Center Studios New Orleans; Oudezijds314; Pivotal Post; PPI Products; KohGenDo Cosmetics; M.A.C.; Murad; Makeup Forever; and Angels The Costumiers. End credits also include the following statements: "American Humane Association monitored the animal action. No animals were harmed"; "Neither Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Regency Entertainment (USA), Inc., Bass Films, LLC, nor Monarchy Enterprises S.a.r.l. received any payment or other consideration, nor entered into any agreement, for the depiction of tobacco products in this film"; and, "Filmed on location in the state of Louisiana. Filmed on location in Jefferson Parish." The following dedication appears after the acknowledgements: "For Philbert John McQueen."
       The full title of Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir, as listed in the Library of Congress, is Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a citizen of New-York, kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and rescued in 1853, from a cotton plantation near Red River, in Louisiana. According to a 7 Nov 2013 LAT article, Northup's story was previously depicted in director Gordon Parks's made-for-television film, Solomon Northup's Odyssey, which aired on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) in 1984. An 11 Oct 2013 HR article noted that director Steve McQueen's wife, an art historian and writer, found Northup's memoir when McQueen was in the early stages of developing an original screenplay about slavery for Plan B Entertainment. A 17 Aug 2011 HR news brief announced that Plan B would produce an adaptation of Twelve Years a Slave, with Chiwetel Ejiofor starring, and McQueen directing and co-writing with John Ridley; however, Ridley receives sole writing credit onscreen. Actor Michael Fassbender's involvement was announced in a 12 Oct 2011 DV item.
       The film was originally envisioned as a $30 million production, according to the 11 Oct 2013 HR, which stated that the production eventually cost $20 million, but received $4 million in Louisiana tax rebates, making the final cost closer to $16 million. Financing was provided by River Road Entertainment, Fox Searchlight, and Arnon Milchan's New Regency.
       Principal photography took place entirely in Louisiana over seven weeks, beginning Jun 2012. Filming was plagued by temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and a hurricane that partially destroyed the set. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that the Felicity Plantation in Vacherie, LA, stood in for the home of "Edwin Epps." Built in 1846, the plantation was reportedly "right next door" to the site where Solomon Northup was kept as a slave. The plantation owned by "Ford" was filmed at Magnolia Plantation in Schriever, LA, which dates to 1858, and Bocage Plantation in Darrow, LA, stood in for "Shaw Farm." A Destrahan, LA, plantation that dates to 1787 served as the setting for Epps's cotton gin house. Other locations included the Sarpy Swamp, the Columns Hotel in the garden district of New Orleans, LA, and Madam John's Legacy House in New Orleans' French Quarter. McQueen stated in HR that the hardest part of filming was the violence that the cast and crew were forced to depict. Months after principal photography wrapped, filmmakers returned to Louisiana to reshoot a scene involving a hanging that "needed something more"; in the reshoots, McQueen used a tree where slaves had reportedly been hanged and buried in the 19th century.
       According to a 25 Oct 2013 LAT article, instead of paying for domestic distribution rights, Fox Searchlight agreed to share box-office earnings with the film's financiers. Because studio executives were concerned that the film might be too harsh for moviegoers, advertisements were tailored to feature "redemptive scenes" and actor Brad Pitt, who plays a small role as a "benevolent abolitionist."
       The 11 Oct 2013 HR stated that the film premiered in late Aug 2013 at the Telluride Film Festival. 12 Years a Slave also screened at the New Orleans Film Festival, as stated in the 20 Oct 2013 LAT, the New York Film Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the top audience prize, according to a 15 Sep 2013 DV item.
       The film grossed $9 million in its first two weeks of limited release, as reported in the 7 Nov 2013 LAT. The 25 Oct 2013 LAT article stated that the film opened in six cities on the first weekend, and expanded to twelve more markets, including Detroit, MI, and Houston, TX, in the second weekend. According to a 12 Dec 2013 LAT article, the film had grossed $35 million worldwide to that time.
       Critical reception was largely positive. The 4 Sep 2013 Village Voice called it McQueen's "most accessible film yet," and the 18 Oct 2013 NYT review stated that the story "seizes you almost immediately with a visceral force." Several reviewers noted that the film marked a departure for McQueen, a former video artist, from the art film world into more classical narrative storytelling. In a mixed review, the Oct 2013 Screen International stated that the "somewhat meandering tone and familiar arc hamper the narrative a bit." Ejiofor and his co-stars received consistent praise, along with director of photography Sean Bobbitt.
       12 Years a Slave was named one of AFI's Movies of the Year. The New York Film Critics Circle awarded Steve McQueen with its Best Director prize, as reported in a 4 Dec 2013 LAT news item. It was also nominated for the following Golden Globe Awards: Best Motion Picture – Drama; Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama (Chiwetel Ejiofor); Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender); Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o); Best Director; Best Screenplay; and Best Original Score. 

Note Credits: Geographic location: Vacherie Louisiana United States
  Geographic location: New Orleans Louisiana United States
  Geographic location: Darrow Louisiana United States
  Geographic location: Schriever Louisiana United States
  Geographic location: Destrahan Louisiana United States

Source   Date   Page
Daily Variety   12 Oct 2011   p. 1, 12.
Daily Variety   15 Sep 2013.   
Hollywood Reporter   17 Aug 2011.   
Hollywood Reporter   11 Oct 2013   pp. 66-71.
Los Angeles Times   7 Oct 2013   Section D, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   18 Oct 2013   p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   20 Oct 2013   Section D, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   25 Oct 2013   Section A, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   28 Oct 2013   Section D, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times   7 Nov 2013   Section S, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times   4 Dec 2013   Section D, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times   12 Dec 2013   Section B, p. 1.
New York Times   18 Oct 2013   p. 1.
Screen International   Oct 2013.   
Village Voice   4 Sep 2013   p. 6, 8.

 
Advanced Search
AFI Membership
AFI honoring the year best in television and film

© 2014 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.