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12 Years a Slave [Blu-ray] (2013)

Chiwetel Ejiofor , Michael K. Williams , Steve McQueen  |  R |  Blu-ray
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,698 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams, Michael Fassbender
  • Directors: Steve McQueen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Blu-ray, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: March 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 134 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,698 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00G4Q3NDA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,137 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

From acclaimed director Steve McQueen comes this "deeply evocative and brilliantly acted" film (Claudia Puig, USA Today) based on the true story of Solomon Northup. It is 1841, and Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor in a gripping performance), an accomplished, free citizen of New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Stripped of his identity and deprived of all dignity, Northup is ultimately purchased by ruthless plantation owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) and must find the strength within to survive. Filled with powerful performances by an astonishing cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt and newcomer Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years A Slave is both an unflinching account of slavery in American history and a celebration of the indomitable power of hope.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
308 of 354 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A soul crushing, spellbinding masterpiece October 25, 2013
Format:DVD
The difficulties of surviving as a slave are proven to be frantic right from the start of "12 Years a Slave." Thrown from abusive master to abusive master, small meal portions, tight living quarters, and if you're able to read and write you're beaten for it. You have no friends, are packed like sardines in a can whenever you're transported, and the struggle to survive nearly outweighs the urge to live. Solomon's story is absorbing because his time as a free man is spliced into the film whenever he seems to drift off into his own world while he's a slave. His family and time as a free man are his comfort thoughts when he's not able to handle the harsh world around him.

The historical drama is immediately uncomfortable and difficult to watch as it takes little time before Solomon gets his first beating and it's just the tip of the iceberg as far as excruciating sequences go. The cast is extraordinary as you see extremely familiar faces pop up here and there; Benedict Cumberbatch as a Baptist preacher and slave owner, Paul Giamatti as a man in charge of selling slaves and getting the best price for them, and Brad Pitt as a Canadian carpenter with an Amish beard. Paul Dano continues his streak of impeccable performances. Dano's portrayal of sleaziness and smarmy characters reaches new heights in "12 Years a Slave." He is extremely unsettling in the film.

The two standouts of the supporting cast are Lupita Nyong'o as Patsey and Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps. Patsey picks the most cotton out on the field every day and Master Epps (Fassbender) takes a liking to her because of it. Nyong'o's suffering bleeds through in her performance in every gesture and facial expression. Patsey's journey is heartbreaking and you feel it deep within your soul.
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168 of 202 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gut-wrenching history lesson by a masterful filmmaker November 4, 2013
Format:DVD
Theatrical review. There may be spoilers.

It is unlikely anyone who goes to see this film won't have some idea about what it's about. There have been many fine films about slavery. And while 2012's "Django Unchained" certainly has violent elements associated with American slavery, that film and others often remind you that it's only a movie. This movie will draw you in and does so with the unique history of Solomon Northup, an actual freeman who lived a good life in Saratoga, New York. In 1841, he had a beautiful wife and 2 children (one played by Oscar nominee Quvenshane Wallis). He was a classical violinist and highly respected in the community.

Approached by a pair of "gentlemen" (including a couldn't-believe-my-eyes Taran Killam from "Saturday Night Live") Solomon (an amazing Chiwetel Ejiofor) is enticed by a financial offer to play a gig in Washington, D. C. Once there, he is kidnapped, shackled and sent by steamer to New Orleans. Upon his arrival he is sold as an escaped slave. During this first act, Solomon must quickly learn how to behave, how to act. Just to stay alive. Even talking is frowned upon, so Ejiofor must speak to the audience with his eyes and his expressions to project the torment he is experiencing. Director Steve McQueen often focuses the camera on faces to bring out the pain of the oppressed as well as the viciousness of the oppressors. McQueen doesn't shy away from anything so be prepared.

Slaves, both men and women, are herded together like cattle. They are stripped, hosed down and sold naked. It is hard to watch. Even harder, mothers and children are separated. This is gut-wrenching story telling. Solomon, now called Platt, must hold it together, keeping his wits so that he can eventually reunite with his family.
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126 of 160 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A best film of all times **a spoiler-free review** November 17, 2013
Format:DVD
Solomon Northup was a real person with a wife and children doing well as a talented musician living in New York in 1841. He is tricked into being kidnapped, and then is chained, beaten, broken down, re-named (now called "Platt"), transported and sold into slavery in Louisiana. Northrup is one of the very few people to have escaped this terrible plight and, eventually, return to his home and family.

This story is primarily about those 12 years a slave from the book Northup later wrote detailing the transition from free man to slave, the shocking living conditions and treatment of slaves in the south, and his own ordeal in the hands of three slave owners within a system of institutionalized captivity and abuse. His account provides a rare and incredible historic insight. The film is gritty, raw, real and details exactly how slavery "worked" in this country, including the many lines of defense to prevent escape, the extreme measures to deny freedoms, the ways slaves survived and did not, and the ill effects on the people committing or allowing such atrocities.

Torture and violence are set against an often beautiful scenic background, a physical example of the many contrasts presented in this film. The characters are complex and many insights into that time in history are revealed as well as eternal truths about human nature, cruelty and kindness, survival and courage. In this beautifully shot, masterfully crafted film, the main actor Chiwetel Ejiofor makes you desperately feel each and every emotion Solomon experiences from a carefree stroll with his wife and children in New York all the way through his horrific ordeal until his reunion with his family 12 years later. Won't be surprised to see this one sweep the Academy awards and gain recognition as a best film of all times.
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