12 Years A Slave is the film adaption of the memoir and slave narrative of Solomon Northup.
The film is set in the 1800s and is centered around the life of the free African American, Solomon Northup who was kidnapped into slavery and was forced to work in southern plantations for 12 years, hence the name. The film starts off with Northup already as a slave, working in a plantation with other enslaved African Americans. It then shifts to his life before the kidnapping when Solomon was a violinist with a wife and family in Saratoga, New York City in 1841.
The plot of the movie truly begins when Northup is introduced to two white men, Brown and Hamilton. They propose a job in Washington D.C.
where he can work as a violinist and they enjoy dinner where Brown and Hamilton drug Northup with wine. Suddenly, everything takes a turn for the worst when Northup awakes in chains and learns that the two men have kidnapped him into slavery. He tries to prove he is indeed a free man to a man named Burch, but he does not believe him as Northup does not have his papers and Burch eventually beats him violently. While him and other slaves are shipped to New Orleans, Northup is told that in order to survive, he must adjust to being a slave and to not show his abilities as a free man like reading and writing. Northup is given the name Platt and is sold to William Ford with Eliza.
Soon, Northup is sold to Edwin Epps after he beats John Tibeats, even after attempting to explain his situation to Ford. The next half of the film is when he is moved to Epps’ plantation and the film introduces Patsey. Patsey picks the most cotton of the other slaves, which causes Epps’ to favor her and sexually abuse her. Due to this, Mistress Epps takes her anger out on her. After Epps’ cotton is invested with cotton worms, the slaves are moved temporarily to Judge Turner’s plantation where Northup is given an opportunity to play violin and allowed to collect his earnings. Northup and Armsby, a white worker at the plantation, make a deal; Armsby sends a letter to Northup’s family and Northup gives him his earnings.
The deal is not fulfilled as Armsby tells Epps