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The movie 12 years a slave released in 2013

We've sorted out what's fact and what's fiction in the new Steve McQueen movie. What happens in between, as Northup is kidnapped into 12 years of slavery in the South, frequently beggars the imagination. Should you believe even the most incredible details of its story? With a few rare exceptions, yes.

While much of the story is condensed, and a few small scenes are invented, nearly all of the most unbelievable details come straight from the book, and many lines are taken verbatim. Solomon was born a free man and received an unusually good education for a black man of his time, eventually coming to work as a violinist and a carpenter.

12 Years a Slave (2013)

As in the movie, he was married to Anne Hampton, who was of mixed race, and they had three children—Elizabeth, Margaret, and Alonzo. His wife and children were away when he was offered an unusually profitable gig from his eventual kidnappers, who called themselves Hamilton and Brown.

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Solomon, while enslaved, turns to find an unidentified woman in bed with him. She grabs his hand and uses it to bring herself to orgasm. McQueen has said of the scene: She takes control of her own body. Photo still courtesy Fox Searchlight In his book, Northup refused to say whether Hamilton and Brown were guilty of his kidnapping.

He notes that he got extraordinary headaches after having a drink with them one night, and became sick and delirious soon afterward, but cannot conclude with assurety that he was poisoned. A judge, Thaddeus St.

12 Years a Slave

John of New York, read the book soon after its release, and realized that he himself had run into the two kidnappers when they were with Northup. John, who knew them, not use their real names around Northup. The next time St. John saw them, they had come into some newfound wealth: They carried ivory canes and sported gold watches. John eventually met up, recognized each other immediately, and brought their case against Merrill and Russell.

Merrill and Russell apparently got off unpunished, after their case was dropped on technicalities.

'12 Years A Slave' Is This Year's Best Film About Music

Northup says he was beaten with a paddle until the paddle broke, only to be whipped after that, all just for asserting his true identity.

We see this in the movie. But an attempted mutiny by Northup and others ends much differently in the film than it does in his own account. Northup did hatch an elaborate plan to take over a ship with a freeman named Arthur and a slave named Robert played in the movie by Michael K.

  • Was Brad Pitt's character, Samuel Bass, based on a real person?
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  • They led him out to a tree where they were going to hang him, but were stopped and chased off by Mr.

But that plan did not end with Robert coming to the defense of Eliza Adepero Oduye against an apparent rape attempt by a sailor, and then being stabbed by that sailor. What foiled their plans was simpler: Robert got smallpox and died. The first scuffle, over a set of nails, is shown in the movie: Afterward, Northup was left bound and on the point of hanging for several hours, before Ford rescued him. In the book, there is a second brawl over another of Tibeats' unreasonable demands.

According to Northup, he again prevailed, but was afraid of the repercussions, and so this time attempted to run away. Unable to survive on his own in the surrounding swamps, he eventually returned in tatters to Ford, who had mercy on him.

There's another small change. The scene that introduces Epps—his reading of Luke As we see in the film, Mistress Epps encourages Master Epps to whip her, out of her own jealousy. One devastating detail is left out: After 12 years apart, Margaret did not recognize her father. The original article was accurate: The original language has been restored.