12 Years a Slave Quotes: Horrifying, Heartbreaking, Gripping(Total Quotes: 72)
Directed by: Steve McQueen
John Ridley (screenplay)
Solomon Northup (based on “Twelve Years a Slave”)
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor – Solomon Northup
Michael Fassbender – Edwin Epps
Lupita Nyong’o – Patsey
Sarah Paulson – Mary Epps
Benedict Cumberbatch – William Ford
Brad Pitt – Samuel Bass
Paul Dano – John Tibeats
Adepero Oduye – Eliza
Paul Giamatti – Theophilus Freeman
Garret Dillahunt – Armsby
Scoot McNairy – Brown
Taran Killam – Hamilton
Chris Chalk – Clemens Ray
Michael K. Williams – Robert
Kelsey Scott – Anne Northup
Alfre Woodard – Mistress Harriet Shaw
Jay Huguley – Sheriff Villiere
Christopher Berry – James Burch
Bryan Batt – Judge Turner
Bill Camp – Radburn
Dwight Henry as Uncle Abram
Ruth Negga – Celeste
OUR REVIEW & RATING ★★★★★
Based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free, educated black family man and professional violinist from New York, 12 Years a Slave quotes are compelling, devastating and powerfully challenging. Set in the 1840s, this often difficult to watch, but gripping film follows Solomon as he is abducted and sold into slavery and is forced to work on plantations in the state of Louisiana for 12 years before his release. For years Solomon dreams of returning to his home and family, refusing to abandon hope and it’s only through a chance meeting with Canadian abolitionist, Samuel Bass, that his life is altered forever.
This film is not for the faint hearted as it is dark and raw exposing all the gory horror of slavery, so much so that it can become overwhelming and haunt you for days after watching it. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an outstanding performance as Solomon effectively using his body language and eyes to express the effects of the terrible things this man was forced to endure but yet throughout it all was able to maintain his dignity and hope. It may be an incredibly hard film to watch but also completely necessary, as it stimulates the audience on an emotional as well as on an intellectual level and on top of that it’s shot beautifully, has a powerful narrative with very strong performances.
Verdict: This is not a film meant for entertainment but rather to present us with the most harrowing and unflinching portrayal of slavery.
“This film is based on a true story”
[first lines; a group of slaves, which includes Solomon, receive instructions on how to cut sugar cane]
Overseer: Alright now! Y’all fresh niggers, y’all gonna be in the cuttin’ gang. Very simple! I want you to take your knife, get them cane.
[he turns grabs some cane and cuts into it with his knife]
Overseer: Make it sing. Take the cane off.
[he holds up his handful of cut cane]
Overseer: Cut my tops. Clean the shucks off.
[he cuts the top and starts cleaning it using his knife]
Overseer: Throw it on the pile for replanting gang.
[he throws the cane onto a pile]
Overseer: Now, them cane ain’t gonna jump up and bite you, don’t shy back. Rush in, boys! Rush in!
[we then see the men singing as they cut the sugar cane, as Solomon is cutting away we see a man, Judge Turner, sitting on top of a wagon watching the men work]
[after a hard days work, we see the slaves getting ready to sleep in their small shack, the next day we see the slaves eating outside their shack, Solomon notices the dark juice of the blackberries on his plate, later that day he makes himself a quill out of wood, that night he tries to use the blackberry juice to write but it doesn’t work as the juice is too thin, then later in the overcrowded slave quarters as Solomon tries to sleep he turns to see another slave, Anna, watching him, she takes takes his hand an presses it on her breast, she kisses him and then uses his hand to give herself sexual release, Solomon just watches her, after climaxing she turns from Solomon and begins to weep, Solomon then has a flashback to being in his bed with his wife, they smile at each other, then Solomon turns and blows out the bedside candle]
[we see Solomon when he was living as a free man, he receives new violin strings which he then strings to his violin, we see him playing his violin at a dinner party where a group of white couples dance and as the music finishes they applaud him and Solomon smiles with joy, later we see Solomon entering his children’s room as they get ready to sleep, his son is jumping on his bed and his daughter is playing music on her flute]
Solomon Northup: Alright, alright, alright. Alright. Get into bed. Get into bed.
Solomon Northup: Thank you for the music.
Solomon Northup: Come on. Get in there, boy. Come on.
[he tucks Alonzo into his bed]
Solomon Northup: Give me a kiss.
[he kisses Alonzo then goes over to Margaret]
Solomon Northup: I love you, Margaret.
[she hugs Solomon]
Margaret Northup: I love you too.
Solomon Northup: Sleep well.
[he tucks her in and blows out the bedside candle]
Solomon Northup: I’ll take this.
[he picks up Margaret’s flute from the bedside table and turns to walk towards the door]
Solomon Northup: I don’t wanna hear anymore noise.
[before closing the door he looks at his children]
Solomon Northup: Good night.
[as he closes the door and walks off we hear Alonzo and Margaret laughing]
[Solomon and Anne are in their bed, staring at each other with happiness]
Solomon Northup: Three weeks and two days.
Anne Northup: It is the custom. I wonder what you’ll do without me?
Solomon Northup: I won’t stay idle.
Anne Northup: Darling, it’s good money.
Solomon Northup: If only I didn’t have to share your cooking with other people.
Anne Northup: You don’t.
[she kisses him; the next day Solomon he picks up Alonzo and kisses him before placing him in the carriage waiting outside their house]
Solomon Northup: Come on. Be good for your mother. Okay, Alonzo?
[he helps Margaret into the carriage]
Solomon Northup: Can I get a kiss, please?
[Margaret kisses his cheek]
Solomon Northup: Thank you.
[turning to Anne]
Solomon Northup: Travel safely.
[he gives her quick kiss on the mouth]
Anne Northup: Stay safely.
[Anne boards the carriage and looks at Margaret and Alonzo]
Anne Northup: Ready?
[the carriage starts to ride off and Solomon waves goodbye to his family]
[Saratoga, New York 1841; Solomon is walking through the park]
Man in Park: Good day, Mr. Northup.
Solomon Northup: Good day.
Mr. Moon: Devil called his name, there he is now.
[calling out to Solomon]
Mr. Moon: Mr. Northup! I have two gentlemen whose acquaintance you should make.
[pointing to the two men behind him]
Mr. Moon: Misters Brown and Hamilton.
[Solomon walks over to them]
Mr. Moon: Mr. Northrup, these two gentlemen were inquiring about distinguished individuals, and I was just this very moment saying Solomon Northrup is an expert player on the violin.
Hamilton: He was indeed.
Solomon Northup: Mr. Moon is being overly gracious.
Brown: Well, taking into consideration his graciousness and your modesty, may we trouble you for a moment of your time to converse, sir?
Solomon Northup: Of course.
[as he goes to join Brown and Hamilton, Moon tips his hat in goodbye]
Mr. Moon: Good day.
[Solomon is sitting on a park bench with Brown and Hamilton]
Solomon Northup: A circus?
Hamilton: That is our usual employee. The company currently in the city of Washington.
Brown: Circus is too constricting a word to describe the talented and merry band with which we travel. It is a spectacle unlike most have ever witnessed. Creatures from the darkest Africa as yet unseen by civilized man. Acrobats from the Orient who contort themselves in the most confounding manners.
[Brown and Hamilton laugh]
Hamilton: And I myself in aid of Mr. Brown; an internationally renowned practitioner in the art of prestidigitation.
Brown: We are on our way thither to rejoin the company having left for a short time to make a small profit from our own exhibitions.
Hamilton: The reason for our inquiry with Mr. Moon…
Brown: Yes. We had just the devil of a time in procuring music for our entertainments. Men of true talents are seemingly in short supply.
Solomon Northup: Thank you, sir.
Brown: If we could persuade you to accompany us as far as Washington, we could give you one dollar for each day’s services and three dollars for every night played at our performances. In addition, we will provide sufficient pay for your return here to Saratoga two weeks from today.
[Solomon smiles as he considers the offer]
[Solomon steps off the carriage with Brown and Hamilton]
Hamilton: Welcome to Washington, Solomon.
[Solomon smiles and turns; to the men passing them by]
Solomon Northup: Good Day.
[later that night all three are laughing as they are having dinner in a restaurant]
Brown: Hamilton, you’re too much.
Hamilton: Some would say not enough.
Brown: Solomon, forty-three dollars all to you.
[Brown places the bag of coins on the table]
Solomon Northup: That is far more than my wages amount to.
Brown: It’s been the most profitable week.
[holding up their glass of wine]
Solomon Northup: Cheers.
[Hamilton and Brown watch Solomon as he drinks his glass of wine]
[Hamilton pours Solomon more wine and Solomon picks up the glass]
Solomon Northup: Gentlemen, your generosity is extraordinary.
Brown: And your talents are undeniable.
Hamilton: Hm. To Solomon!
[they hold up their glasses again]
Solomon Northup: Cheers.
[Solomon smiles as he drinks more of his wine]
[the next day Solomon wakes to find himself chained in a cell, we see in flashbacks what happened to him the previous night as Brown and Hamilton help him while he vomits in an alley]
Hamilton: That’s alright, Solomon. There’s no shame in it, no shame at all.
[back in the cell Solomon tries to stand but finds his feet also chained to the floor, in another flashback we see Hamilton helping Solomon up the stairs to his hotel room with Brown following behind them]
Brown: Hamilton, we must hurry.
[to the woman passing by them on the staircase]
Hamilton: Bought too many libations.
Hamilton: Half way there.
[back in the cell, Solomon tries to free himself of the chains but fails and fall to the floor defeated, in another flashback Hamilton has placed Solomon in his bed in the hotel room]
Solomon Northup: So sorry.
[Hamilton wipes Solomon’s face with a cloth]
Hamilton: Shh-shh-shh. We won’t hear it. We won’t.
Brown: Let him sleep, Hamilton.
Hamilton: Hm. A good night’s rest. And tomorrow…tomorrow you will feel as well and refreshed as if the earth were new again.
Brown: Hamilton, there’s nothing more we can do for him.
Hamilton: Such is the pity.
[Hamilton rises from Solomon’s side and Brown blows out the bedside candle]
[Solomon hears the cell door open and sees Burch and Radburn enter]
Burch: Well, boy, how you feelin’ now?
[Solomon rises up from the floor]
Solomon Northup: My name…my name is Solomon Northup. I am a free man. A resident of Saratoga, New York. The residence of my wife and children, who are equally free. And you have no right whatsoever to detain me…
Burch: You’re not any free man.
Solomon Northup: And I promise you, I promise you upon my liberation, I will have satisfaction for this wrong.
Burch: Resolve this. Produce your papers.
[knowing that he can’t as he’s been stripped of his belongings, Solomon tries to hold out his arms, but the chains hold him back, Burch just stares at him and takes a step towards him]
Burch: You’re no free man. And you ain’t from Saratoga. You’re from Georgia.
[Burch takes another step closer to Solomon]
Burch: You ain’t a free man. You’re nothin’ but a Georgia runaway. You’re a just a runaway nigger from Georgia.
[Burch turns and steps away from Solomon, Radburn then pulls at Solomon’s chains from the wall making him fall to his hands and knees, Burch then takes a paddle and starts beating Solomon with it mercilessly on his back making him yell in pain]
Burch: You’re a slave! You’re a Georgia slave!
[Burch stops beating Solomon and leans closer to him]
Burch: Are you a slave?
Solomon Northup: No.
[Burch resumes beating Solomon again, eventually he stops and both him and Radburn leave the cell, Solomon falls back weeping, he gets up and walks over to the cell window and starts calling out]
Solomon Northup: Help! Help me! Help me! Somebody, help me! Aaaaahh!
[Radburn enters the cell and places some food in front of Solomon]
Radburn: That old thing of yours is just rags and tatters. You need something proper to wear.
[he holds up a shirt in front of Solomon]
Radburn: Go on, put it on.
[Solomon stands and takes off his shirt which the back of is covered in blood from being beaten earlier, Radburn gives him the new shirt and Solomon puts it on]
Radburn: There. That’s fine. That’s fine. Got no gratitude?
[Solomon doesn’t reply, Radburn takes a step towards him making Solomon flinch back, Radburn picks up Solomon’s old shirt from the floor]
Solomon Northup: No, that’s from my wife.
Radburn: Rags and tatters. Rags and tatters.
[Radburn tauntingly shakes Solomon’s shirt before leaving the cell and locking it, in anger Solomon kicks his place of food aside]
[Solomon stands naked with two other men and a boy, Clemens, John and Randall in a yard when Radburn enters]
Radburn: Go on, wash up.
[Solomon kneels in front of a bucket of water]
Radburn: The boy too, get him clean.
[Solomon starts using some water to help clean Randall]
Radburn: Scrub now.
Randall: Do you know when my Mama will come?
Radburn: And hush him up.
Randall: Mama! Mama!
Solomon Northup: Quiet. Quiet.
Solomon Northup: Quiet!
Radburn: Hush him up!
Solomon Northup: Your mother will come, I swear she will, but you must be silent. Be silent.
[Solomon continues to wash Randall]
[Solomon is sat with Clemens, John and Randal in the corner of the yard]
Solomon Northup: We need a sympathetic ear. An opportunity to explain our situation.
Clemens: Who in your estimation is that sympathetic ear?
Solomon Northup: The two men I journeyed with. I’m certain they’re making inquires at this very moment.
Clemens: I’d be just as certain they’re counting the money paid for delivering you to this place.
Solomon Northup: They were not kidnappers, they were artists. Fellow performers.
Clemens: You know that? You know for certain who they were?
[Solomon cannot reply]
Clemens: The reality to come is us being transported southward. New Orleans if I was to venture. After we arrive, we’ll be put to market. And beyond that…well, I suppose once in a slave state there’s only one outcome.
Clemens: I don’t say that to give you empty agitation, John.
John: For y’all. For y’all they ain’t nothin’ but that. But John wasn’t kidnapped. John just bein’ held as debt, that’s all. Master pay his debt and John be redeemed.
Clemens: Boy, our masters will not come for us.
John: John…John is sorry for y’all, but that’s how it be. Where you’re going, you’re going without John.
[just then the yard door is opened and Burns lets a woman and young girl enter]
[Eliza rushes towards Randall]
[Randall jumps into his mother’s arms and she picks him up]
Eliza: Are you alright? Are you alright?
[she puts him down and holds him close to her]
Eliza: Thank God.
[late at night, Burch and Radburn enter the cell where Solomon, Eliza and her children are being held]
Burch: Come on, get up! I said get up!
Eliza: No! No, don’t…
Burch: Now, I don’t want to hear you talk! Get in the yard!
[Eliza stands in front of her children protectively]
Eliza: Not my children!
Radburn: There ain’t no need for all that. Just takin’ a little trip, that’s all.
[Radburn goes over to her]
Radburn: Don’t want to frighten the children over a little boat ride, do you?
[in the yard Burch has gathered John and Clemens]
John: John’s master gonna pay his debt.
Burch: Hurry up! Line up!
John: His master gonna pay his debt!
[Burch starts hitting John as Solomon, Eliza and her children join them in the yard]
Burch: I do not wanna hear a word out of none you! Not a one.
[hidden inside a carriage they are transported to the dock]
Burch: Okay, let’s go! Alright, come on. Move. Come on.
[Eliza is first to get off the carriage; to Eliza’s daughter]
Burch: Come on, child. Come on. Follow your mom.
[then to Randall]
Burch: Come on, boy.
Radburn: Come on, up these stairs.
[to Solomon, Clemens and John]
Burch: Get out of that wagon, come on. Come on, move it!
[Solomon, Clemens and John get off the carriage]
Burch: Let’s go, come on.
Radburn: Up, up the stairs. Come on, let’s go.
[Solomon, Clemens and John walks up the stairs towards the steam boat ahead of them]
Burch: Come on, move it.
Radburn: Alright, come on.
[inside the boat, to one of the sleeping men]
Radburn: Hey, you! Go on, get up!
[the man rolls away from his spot; to Eliza and her children]
Radburn: Sit down, right there. Go on.
[Eliza and her children sit; to Solomon, Clemens and John]
Radburn: Right there, you sit down.
[as Solomon, Clemens and John sit, Radburn and Burch leave]
[in the hold of the ship a woman moves around giving food and drink to the slaves, she hands Eliza a drink]
Mulatto Woman: Cheer up and don’t be so cast down.
[Solomon and Clemens watch the woman leave and shut the trap door loudly behind her]
Clemens: If you want to survive, do and say as little as possible. Tell no one who you really are and tell no one that you can read and write.
[he pauses and looks at Solomon]
Clemens: Unless you want to be a dead nigger.
[they hear the trap door open, a sailor walks down the stairs and goes over to another slave, Robert, who has a muzzle covering his face]
Sailor: Now keep your mouth shut.
[the sailor takes the muzzle off of Robert’s face and leaves; later Roberts is sat with Solomon and Clemens]
Robert: I say we fight.
Solomon Northup: The crew is fairly small. If it were well planned, I believe they could be strong armed.
Clemens: Three can’t go against a whole crew. The rest here are niggers, born and bred slaves. Niggers ain’t got no stomach for a fight, not a damn one.
Robert: All’s I know, we get where we’re traveling we’ll wish we’d died trying.
Clemens: Survival is not about certain death, it’s about keeping your head down.
Solomon Northup: Days ago I was with my family, in my home. Now you tell me all is lost. Tell no one who I really am, that’s the way to survive. Well, I don’t want to survive, I want to live.
[late at night as everyone is asleep, one of the sailors enters the hold and approaches Eliza, he awakens her to take her away to rape her when Roberts stands and goes to stop him but the sailor stabs and kills him, in the morning Solomon and Clemens dump the wrapped body of Robert over the side of the ship]
Clemens: Better off. Better than us.
[Clemens turns and walks off as Solomon watches Robert’s body float away; at the port a white man stands and watches the slaves walks out of the ship’s hold]
Jonus Ray: I don’t see him. Clemens! Clemens Ray! Clemens…!
[he spots Clemens and points to him]
Clemens: Master Ray, sir! Master…!
[as Clemens goes to rush over to Ray, a sailor stops him and pushes him making Solomon fall in the process as he’s chained to Clemens]
Jonus Ray: Who’s in charge here?
Captain: I am the captain!
Jonus Ray: I am Mr. Jonas Ray. My solicitor has documentation verifying the Negro known as Clemens Ray is my property.
[his solicitor hands Ray the piece of paper who holds it out for the Captain to take]
Captain: I know nothing of this arrangement.
[the Captain walks down towards Ray and grabs the paper]
Jonus Ray: You are ordered to return that property immediately or be charged with thievery.
[to his sailor]
Captain: Free him!
[Clemens chains are removed and he rushes over to Ray]
Clemens: Master. Master!
[Clemens hugs Ray, Solomon watches Clemens in shock as he walks off with his master]
[as Solomon steps forward the sailor pushes him back]
Sailor: Get in back!
Solomon Northup: Clemens! Clemens! Clemens!
[as Solomon sits awaiting his fate, he watches the other slaves around him all showing physical evidence of the beatings they have endured, then Solomon has flashback to a day he was with his wife and children walking in the street and entering a store, a slave, Jasper, watches them with envy]
Solomon Northup: Mr. Parker?
Parker: Oh, Mr. Northup. Mrs. Northup.
[he goes over to Solomon and shakes his hand]
Parker: Solomon, can I interest you in a new cravat? Pure silk by way of the French.
Solomon Northup: We’re in need of a fresh carry all for my Mrs’s travels, nothing more.
Parker: A year has passed already?
Parker: Off to work at Sandy Hill again?
Anne Northup: I am.
Parker: I have just the thing.
[he fetches a carry all to show them]
Parker: Something to suit your style and yet sturdy enough for the forty mile round trip.
Anne Northup: It’s beautiful.
Solomon Northup: At what price?
Anne Northup: We will take it. Children, come see what your father has just purchased for me.
[just then Jasper enters the store]
Parker: One moment, sir, you’ll be assisted.
Solomon Northup: Mr. Parker?
Solomon Northup: If we could discuss the price.
Parker: Oh, forgive me, Solomon. Excuse me, Mrs. Northup. A customer waits.
[Parker walks over to Jasper]
Parker: Welcome, sir.
[playfully to Jasper]
Solomon Northup: Shop well, sir, but mind your wallet.
Parker: Pay no attention to this gentleman’s nonsense.
[just then Jasper’s master, Fitzgerald, enters the store]
[everyone turns to look at Fitzgerald]
Fitzgerald: My regrets for the intrusion, sir.
Solomon Northup: No intrusion.
[Fitzgerald looks coldly at Solomon, then ignores him and addresses Parker]
Fitzgerald: Good day, sir.
Parker: Good day.
[Fitzgerald pushes Jasper out of the store]
Fitzgerald: Jasper, out!
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