• 12 Years a Slave has an all-star cast
  • In 2014 it won an Oscar for "Best Picture"
  • There is a true story behind it

12 Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o and Benedict Cumberbatch, won the 2014 Oscar for Best Picture. Steve McQueen's historical drama gets under your skin, partly because it's based on a true story.

12 Years a Slave is based on an autobiography

The film is based on the autobiographical work of Solomon Northup, which he published in 1853. Solomon Northup writes in his memoirs about the 12 years he was forced to spend as a slave in Louisiana in the 1840s.

Before his life became hell on earth, he lived as a free man with his wife and three children in the state of New York. He was a trained carpenter and violinist until one day he was offered a well-paying job as a musician for a traveling circus by two men.

Solomon accompanied the men to Washington D.C., where they drugged, kidnapped, and enslaved him. He raised awareness of his rights as a free man and was silenced with beatings and threats. He was held by slave owners for 12 years. He never talked to anyone about his true origins until he told the white carpenter Samuel Bass about it.

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The latter wrote a letter to Northup's family, who in return contacted a lawyer who did everything possible to free Solomon. After his release, he sued the men who kidnapped him. However, he lost the case because, as a black man, he was not allowed to testify against white people.

12 Years a Slave is still an important film today, and unfortunately, the theme will probably be relevant for years to come.