12 Years of the Slave is the story of Solomon Northup in 1855.
The narrative describes the family of Northup who later gets kidnapped and works in cotton plantation, in the Red River County, in Louisiana. Northup father was also enslaved and freed after moving to New York. Northup married a woman of mixed ancestry on Christmas Day and had three children (Solomon 47). Northup was sold into slavery by two men who offered him a travelling musical show. Northup severed many masters that he praised some and condemned others. Northup lived a devastating life in the cotton plantation, where he faced brutal and cruel masters (Follett 14). After many years of slavery, Northup received help from a Canadian abolitionist who assisted him in tracing his family. An official State report was released for freeing of Northup. Northup filed charges for the kidnappers but died before the end of the trial (Follett 23).
The movie “12 Years a Slave” is a historical drama that relates to the novel “12 Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup. Steven McQueen is the director of a slavery film whose theme is a true tale (Fuller par 3). Northup had two children and a wife. He maintained his family with earnings from the violinist—the story-line talks on the pre-civil war in United Stated where Solomon Northup was abducted and sold into slavery. Northup faced cruelty from the slave owner, Edwin Epps. Northup served as a slave for twelve years, and then had a rare chance to meet with the Canadian abolitionist, Bass.
At the other side, the film starts with slaves obtaining instructions on how to cut sugar cane grass. Northup has flashbacks of his family during the happy moments and his career as a violinist. The flashback ends when the traitors leave Northup in the cell where he gets accused as a runaway from Georgia (Fuller par 7).
The initial aspects of the novel are slavery, the main characters Solomon Northup, Ford and Edwin Epps (Solomon 84). The film is a replica of a novel and has many similarities. The narration of the movie gives a summary of the Northup lifestyle before starting his slavery life in snippets incidences as back-flash. The novel describes Northup life in slavery as encounters of many masters; some cruel while others are requiring the praise. On the other hand, the movie describes two incidences of masters; Ford, who requires praise and Epps who is renowned for his ruthless beatings. The characters in the movie are reduced, but the central theme remains intact. Northup is sentimental on female slaves and is willing to help them. Similarly, the movie shows how Northup encourages Patsey in her slavery and ways to avoid sexual advances from Epps. In addition, Northup persuades Patsey to stay in Shaw ‘s plantation where she enjoys treatment (Fuller par 8).
The themes of the original book have been emphasized in the movie through vivid description of punishments that take place in slavery. The movie also insists on the cruelty of masters in cotton and sugarcane plantations. Female slaves experience series of rape incidences from the masters. The masters go a step ahead and give authority of slaves to punish the fellow slaves. The film director Steve McQueen demonstrates the value of a family reunion with the use of Solomon Northup. Northup is happy upon seeing his wife after twelve years of slavery. The wife and Northup are overwhelmed with joy. A family reunion is also a common theme in the original book since the narration ends with a reunion of Northup with his wife Anne, grandson and daughters (Solomon 93).
- Follett, Richard. “Slavery And Plantation Capitalism In Louisiana’s Sugar Country.” American Nineteenth-Century History 1.3 (2000): 1-27. Print.
- Fuller, Graham. “Steve McQueen’s ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ Set to Shine on Solomon Northup’s Ordeal” artinfo.com 30 Apr. 2012. Web. 04 May 2014.
- Solomon, Northup. Twelve Years A Slave. New York: Brighthouse, 2013. Print.