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12 Years a Slave

HD   R Closed Captioning SDH AD

Steve McQueen

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About the Movie

From director Steve McQueen and based on Solomon Northup’s astonishing true story comes this powerful winner of three 2013 Academy Awards®, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o). In 1841, Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free citizen, is kidnapped, stripped of his identity and sold into slavery. Now, he must find the strength to survive in this unflinching story of hope.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 304
  • Fresh: 291
  • Rotten: 13
  • Average Rating: 9.0/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: It speaks to the courage and resilience of one man, the savagery of many, and the potential, for both good and for ill, in us all. – Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan 13, 2015

Fresh: It is so fluent and so certain -- both in its humanism and its depiction of institutionalised savagery. – Craig Mathieson, The Sunday Age, May 23, 2016

Fresh: Easily the most powerful, compelling, devastating, and just plain blunt film about slavery ever made, Steve McQueen's adaptation of Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir, 12 Years a Slave is a raw and searing indictment. – Gary Dowell, Dark Horizons, Jan 13, 2015

Fresh: McQueen depicts the horrific experiences of Solomon Northup, the free man kidnapped and sold into slavery, in utterly unflinching fashion. The film's strength lies in its frankness and avoidance of either sentimentality or Quentin Tarantino-style irony. – Geoffrey Macnab, Independent (UK), Jan 13, 2015

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Beautifully Horrifying

This is art. I don't care what anyone says. It's art. Steve McQueen is a genius and everything he touches turns into gold. 12YAS is gross, hard to watch and disturbing, a Schindler's List for our time. It portrays a dark time in humanity without much of a filter. It's Best Picture worthy, best film of the 2010s worthy, and any other list in between. Art should make you a better person, and dammit if 12YAS didn't do just that.

Thrilling, tragic, devastating

It's still hard to imagine that 1840 was less than 200 years ago. What slavery did was destroy not only black families, but the spirit and dignity of an individual's soul. Black people were commodities to be used, traded, and killed at the whim of an owner. For a new country founded on the enlightened democratic theories and principles of enlightened thinkers, it's important to always remember that for slaves there was never a chance for life, liberty, or the pursuit of anything close to happiness. Such a harsh reality, it was difficult to watch some scenes, and even harder to imagine that it lasted for hundreds of years.

The Emperors New Clothes

One hour into this movie my husband and I stopped the movie and looked at each other in dismay. This was the best movie of the year?! What were we missing? If this was supposed to be an answer to slavery as depicted in "Gone with the Wind": fine! They were polar opposites but both equally unrealistic and one dimensional in their depiction of slavery but at least the later was a great movie that demonstrated wonderful story telling, acting and filmography of the time. I cannot help but think that it was the subject of this movie that won it it's reward. I take my hat off to Armond White for being the only professional critic I read that honestly critiqued this film and pointed out the truth about the Emperors new clothes. This movie does not hold a candle to the long ago mini series, "Roots" that did a much better job of depicting the injustice and cruelty of slavery.

My husband and I reluctantly decided to finish the movie to see if it got better and to see the performance of Lupita Nyong'o who won the Oscar for best supporting actress. The movie did not get better but it was a fine performance by Ms. Nyong'o as well as Paul Dano and Chiwetel Ejiofor, thus the two stars.

12 Years a Slave
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  • $14.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 2013

Customer Ratings