12 Years a Slave (2013) Movie Script

All right now.
Y'all fresh niggers.
Y'all gonna be in a cutting gang.
Very simple.
I want you to take your knife.
Get in them cane.
Make it sing.
Take the cane out.
Cut my tops.
Clean the shucks off.
Throw it on a pile
for the planting gang.
Now, them cane ain't gonna
jump up and bite you.
Don't shy back.
Rush here, boys! Rush here!
My Lord
My Lord
Lord, Lord
My ma
She dead
My pa
He dead
My Lord
My Lord
Is late
In high
In high
In high
My Lord
My Lord
Lord, Lord
My ma
She dead
My pa
He dead
My Lord
My Lord
Yes, sir
All right, all right,
all right, all right.
Into bed.
Into bed.
Thank you for the music.
- Come on.
- Ouch.
Get in there. Come on.
Give me a kiss.
I love you, Margaret.
I love you, too.
Sleep well.
I'll take this.
I don't want to hear
any more noise.
Three weeks and two days.
It is the custom.
I wonder what you
will do without me.
I won't stay idle.
Darling, it's good money.
If only I didn't have to share
your cooking with other people.
You don't.
Be good for your mother.
Okay, Alonzo?
Can I get a kiss, please?
Thank you.
Travel safely.
Stay safely.
Devil call his name,
there he is now.
Mr. Northup!
I have two gentlemen whose
acquaintance you should make.
Misters Brown and Hamilton.
Mr. Northup, these two gentlemen...
were inquiring about
distinguished individuals...
and I was just this very moment...
saying Solomon Northup
is an expert player on the violin.
He was indeed.
Mr. Moon is being overly gracious.
Well, taking into consideration his
graciousness and your modesty...
may we trouble you for a moment
of your time to converse, sir?
Of course.
Good day.
A circus?
That is our usual employee.
The company currently
in the city of Washington.
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.
And I myself
in aide of Mr. Brown...
an internationally renowned practitioner
in the art of prestidigitation.
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.
The reason for our inquiry
with Mr. Moon...
We had just a devil of a time
in procuring music for
our entertainments.
Men of true talents are
seemingly in short supply.
Thank you, sir.
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 would
provide sufficient pay...
for your return here to Saratoga,
two weeks from today.
Welcome to Washington, Solomon.
Hamilton, you know too much.
Some say not enough.
Solomon, 43 dollars.
All to you.
That is far more than
my wages amount to.
It's been a most
profitable week, sir.
- Cheers.
- Cheers.
Gentlemen, your generosity
is extraordinary.
And your talents are undeniable.
Mmm. To Solomon.
It's all right, Solomon.
There's no shame in it.
No shame at all.
Hamilton, we must hurry.
One too many libation.
We're halfway there.
So sorry...
We won't hear it. We won't.
Let him sleep, Hamilton.
Mmm. A good night's rest.
And tomorrow...
tomorrow you will feel
as well and refreshed
as if the earth were new again.
Hamilton, there's
nothing more we can do for him.
Such is the pity.
Well, boy, how do you feel now?
My name... My name is Solomon Northup.
I'm 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.
You're not any free man.
And I promise you...
I promise you upon my liberation
I will have satisfaction
for this wrong.
Resolve this.
Produce your papers.
You're no free man.
And you ain't from Saratoga.
You're from Georgia.
You ain't a free man.
You're nothing but
a Georgia runaway.
You're just a runaway nigger...
from Georgia.
You're a slave!
You're a Georgia slave!
Are you a slave?
Help me.
Help me!
Somebody help me!
That old thing of yours
is just rags and tatters.
You need something proper to wear.
Go on, put it on.
That's fine.
That's fine.
Got no gratitude?
No. That's from my wife.
Rags and tatters.
Rags and tatters.
Go on, wash up.
The boy, too.
Get him clean.
Scrub now.
Do you know when my mama will come?
Hush him up!
Mama! Mama!
- Quiet, please.
- Mama!
Hush him up!
Your mother will come, I swear
she will. But you must be silent.
Be silent.
We need a sympathetic ear.
An opportunity to
explain our situation.
Who, in your estimation,
is that sympathetic ear?
The two men I journeyed with.
I'm certain they're making
enquiries at this very moment.
I'd be just as
certain they're counting
the money paid for
delivering you to this place.
They were not kidnappers, they
were artists. Fellow performers.
You know that?
You know for certain who they were?
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.
I don't say that to give
you empty agitation, John.
For y'all,
there ain't nothing but that.
But John wasn't kidnapped.
John's just being held
as debt, that's all.
Master pay his debt
and John be redeemed.
Boy, our masters
will not come for us.
John is sorry for y'all,
but that's how it be.
Where you're going,
you're going without John.
- Mama!
- Randall!
Are you all right?
Are you all right?
Thank you, God.
Come on. Get up.
- I said, get up!
- No, don't...
I don't want to hear you talk!
Get in the yard.
Not my children!
Ain't no need for all that.
Just taking a little trip, that's all.
Don't want to frighten the children
over a little boat ride, do you?
John's master gonna pay his debt.
Line up!
His master gonna pay his debt!
I don't want to hear a word
out of none of you!
Not a one.
All right, come on.
- Move.
- Come on.
Come on, child.
Come on.
Follow your mama.
Come on, boy.
Up these stairs.
Get down out of that wagon.
Come on.
Come on. Move it!
Let's go!
Up, up, up the stairs.
Come on, let's go.
Come on, move it!
All right, come on.
Hey, you. Get up.
Sit down, right there.
Come on.
Right there.
Just sit down.
Cheer up and don't be so cast down.
If you want to survive,
do and say as little as possible.
Tell no one who you really are and
tell no one you can read and write.
Unless you want
to be a dead nigger.
Now keep your mouth shut.
I say we fight.
The crew is fairly small.
Were it well planned, I believe
they could be strong-armed.
Three can't go against
the whole crew.
The rest here are niggers.
Born and bred slaves.
Niggers ain't got no
stomach for a fight.
Not a damn one.
All's I know, if we get
where we're traveling...
we'll wish we'd died trying.
Survival's not about certain death,
it's about keeping your head down.
Days ago, I was with my family...
in my home.
Now you tell me all is lost.
"Tell no one who I am."
That's the way to survive?
Well, I don't want to survive.
I want to live.
Better off.
Better than us.
I don't see him.
- Clemens Ray!
- Master.
- Clemens!
- Master Ray, sir!
Master Ray!
Who's in charge here?
I'm the captain!
I'm Mr. Jonus Ray.
My solicitor has documentation...
verifying the negro known
as Clemens Ray is my property.
I know nothing of this arrangement.
You are ordered to
return that property
immediately or be
charged with thievery.
Free him!
Master Ray, sir.
- Clemens!
- Get him back!
Mr. Parker.
Ah, Mr. Northup. Mrs. Northup.
Solomon, could I interest you
in a new cravat?
Pure silk, by way of the French.
We're in need of a fresh
carryall for my Mrs.'s travels.
Nothing more.
The year has passed already.
Off to work at Sandy Hill again?
I am.
I have just the thing.
Something to suit your style...
and yet sturdy enough
for the 40-mile round trip.
It's beautiful.
At what price?
We will take it.
Children, come see what you
father has just purchased for me.
One moment, sir,
and you'll be assisted.
- Mr. Parker.
- Sir?
If we could discuss the price.
Oh, forgive me, Solomon.
Forgive me, Mrs. Northup.
A customer waits.
Welcome, sir.
Shop well, sir,
but mind your wallet.
Pay no attention
to this gentleman's nonsense.
My regrets for the intrusion, sir.
No intrusion.
Good day, sir.
Good day.
Jasper, out.
Very good. Very good.
Let's see, here. Eliza!
Stand up when you
hear your name. Eliza.
Stand up.
You fit the description given.
Why didn't you answer when called?
My name is not Platt.
My name...
Your name is Platt.
get these niggers to my cart.
I believe I have
something very much
to your liking in the back room.
Follow me, please.
Now, inspect them at your leisure...
but I ask you to pay particular
regard to young Ezra here.
Incredibly sound limbs.
I have never seen anything
quite like him.
And this marvelous creature.
Can you believe it? Mmm?
She'll make a fine lady's maid.
So, inspect at your leisure.
Take your time.
Help yourself to refreshments.
Gentlemen, what catches
your fancy here? Hmm?
This boy? Yes?
Open your mouth. Open wider.
Look in there.
Never been sick a day in his life.
And I call particular
attention to Martha.
She is an excellent pastry cook.
Ah, Mr. Ford.
Splendid seeing you, sir.
What catches your fancy?
This lad? He's very brawny.
How much for the ones
Platt and Eliza?
Ah, yes.
A thousand for Platt.
Uh... Oh.
This is a nigger of considerable
talent, I assure you.
700 for Eliza.
My fairest price.
You will accept a note?
Please, sir.
Do not divide my family.
Do not take me unless
you take my children.
Eliza! Quiet!
You will have the most
faithful slave in me.
The most faithful slave
that has ever lived.
But I beg that you
do not separate us.
Your price for the boy?
Eliza! Stop it!
I will give you
something to cry about.
Randall, come forward.
Come, come, come.
Now, do you see how
fit this boy is?
Like ripe fruit.
May I take your stick a moment?
Observe this.
Randall, jump, jump, jump.
Run, run, run.
Very good! Higher.
Now, you see this.
It's very likely
he will grow into a fine beast.
600 for the boy.
Fair and final.
Superb. A moment, please.
Mr. Ford.
- Please.
- Eliza!
How much for the little girl?
You have no use for her.
One so young will
bring you no profit.
No, no, no.
I cannot sell the girl.
No, there's heaps and piles
of money to be made from her.
She's a beauty.
One of the regular bloods.
None of your thick-lipped, bullet-heated,
cotton-picking niggers, here.
Her child, man.
For God's sake, are you not
sentimental in the least?
My sentimentality extends
the length of a coin.
God, please.
Now do you take this lot, Mr. Ford,
or do you pass on them?
Please, please. Please.
I will take the ones
Platt and Eliza.
Sold, Eliza and Platt.
I will not go without my children!
Goddamn sniveling wench!
You will not take them from me!
God damn you!
Get her out of here, Cape!
Please! No! No!
Get her out of here, god damn it!
Platt, get your fiddle.
Play, play, play something.
I will give you something to cry
about, you goddamned witch!
Get her out of here, Cape!
Out, now!
Mama! Mama! Mama!
Mr. Ford, a pleasure.
Did you bring all those niggers?
Two of them? You got two?
Mr. Chapin.
This one's crying.
Why is this one crying?
Separated from her children.
- Oh, dear.
- It couldn't be helped.
Poor, poor woman.
- Mr. Chapin.
- Yes, sir.
you have to take these two
up to the mill and
start them working.
For now, make them adequate.
Fix them a meal
and have them rest themselves.
Yes, sir.
Come on, now.
Come on!
Don't dawdle!
Something to eat, and some rest.
Your children will
soon be forgotten.
For all of you raw niggers
that don't know...
my name is John Tibeats,
William Ford's chief carpenter.
You will refer to me as "Master."
Mr. Chapin is the overseer
on this plantation.
You, too,
will refer to him as "Master."
So, clap your hands.
Like this. Come on.
Come on, now. Clap your hands.
Nigger run Nigger flew
Nigger tore his shirt in two
Run, run
The pattyroller will get you
Run, nigger, run
Well, you better get away
That's right.
Like you mean it.
Nigger run
Run so fast
Stove his head in a hornet's nest
Run, run
The pattyroller will get you
Run, nigger, run
Well, you better get away
Run, nigger, run
The pattyroller will get you
Run, nigger, run
Well, you better get away
Some folk say a nigger don't steal
I caught three in my corn field
One has a bushel
And one has a peck
One has a rope
It was hung around his neck
Run, nigger, run
The pattyroller will get you
Run, nigger, run
Well, you better get away
Run, nigger, run
The pattyroller will get you
Run, nigger, run
Well, you better get away
Hey, Mr. Pattyroller
Don't catch me
Catch that nigger behind that tree
Run, nigger, run
The pattyroller will get you
Run, nigger, run
Well, you better get away
Run, nigger, run
The pattyroller will get you
Run, nigger, run
Well, you better get away
Run, nigger, run
The pattyroller will get you
Run, nigger, run
Well, you better get away
"'I am the God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac...
"'and the God of Jacob.'
"And when the multitude heard this,
"they were astonished
at his doctrine.
"And then one of them,
which was a lawyer...
"asked him a question,
tempting him."
The creek is
plenty deep enough to sail.
Even with a boat full of load.
The distance from the work area to
the point on the latter bayou...
is several miles by water
fewer than land.
It occurs to me that
the expense of transportation
would be materially diminished...
"Materially diminished"?
if we use the waterway.
Are you an engineer, or a nigger?
Are you an engineer, or a nigger?
Let the man say his piece.
It's a scheme. Plenty of
engineers have schemed similarly.
The passes are too tight.
I reckon them at more than 12
feet at their most narrow.
Wide enough for a tub to traverse
if a team of niggers
cleared it out.
And you know what
of transport and terraforming?
I labored repairing the
Champlain canal...
on the section over which William
van Nortwick was superintendent.
With my earnings, I hired several
efficient hands to assist me...
and entered into contracts for
the transportation of large
rafts of timber...
from Lake Champlain to Troy.
Well, I'll admit to being
impressed even if you won't.
Collect a team.
See what good you can do.
You good? Clear it out!
Two, three...
Too late for me
I live or die
Lay down and cry
Hey, boy
I'm tired
My lord
I'm strong
Yes, sir
I'm tall
Yes, sir
Platt, you are a marvel.
What took you so long?
Thank you, Master Ford.
My great thanks, Master Ford.
No, my thanks to you.
And it is the least of it.
I hope it brings us both
much joy over the years.
Stop your wailing!
If you let yourself be overcome
by sorrow, you will drown in it.
Have you stopped crying
for your children?
You make no sounds, but will you
ever let them go in your heart?
They are as my flesh.
Then who is distressed?
Do I upset the master
and the mistress?
Do you care less about my loss
than their well-being?
Master Ford is a decent man.
He is a slaver!
Under the circumstances.
Under the circumstances,
he is a slaver.
But you truckle at his boot.
You luxuriate in his favor.
I survive!
I will not fall into despair!
I will offer up my
talents to Master Ford!
I will keep myself hearty
until freedom is opportune!
Ford is your opportunity?
You think he does not know that
you are more than you suggest?
But he does nothing for you.
You are no better than
prized livestock.
Call for him. Call!
Tell him of your
previous circumstances,
and see what it earns you, Solomon.
So, you've settled into
your role as Platt, then?
My back is thick with scars...
for protesting my freedom.
Do not accuse me.
I accuse you of nothing.
I cannot accuse.
I have done dishonorable
things to survive...
and for all of them,
I have ended up here.
No better than if
I stood up for myself.
God, forgive me.
let me weep for my children!
"Whosoever, therefore,
shall humble
"himself as this little child...
"the same is the greatest
in the kingdom of heaven.
"And who so shall receive one
such little child in my name...
I cannot have that
kind of depression about.
"But who so shall offend
one of these little ones...
"it were better for him that a
millstone were hanged about his neck...
"and he were drowned
in the depth of the sea."
Make them boards flush.
They are, sir.
No, they is no such thing.
They are as smooth to the
touch as a yearling's coat.
Are you calling me a liar, boy?
It's all a matter
of perspective, sir.
From where you stand,
you may see differently,
but the hands are not mistaken.
I simply ask that you use all your
senses before rendering judgment.
Oh, my, you are a brute.
You are a dog.
And no better for
following instruction!
I do as ordered.
Then you'll be up at daybreak.
You will procure
a keg of nails from Chapin...
and commence to putting
on clapboards.
Yes, sir.
Make them boards flush.
No, please! Please, Sam!
Where am I going?
Where am I going, Sam?
Solomon! Solomon!
When I say I had my
Master's favor, you understand.
And for nine years...
he blessed me with every
comfort and luxury in life.
Silks and jewels...
and even servants to wait upon us.
Such was our life.
And the life of this beautiful
girl I bore for him.
But Master Berry's daughter...
she always looked at me
with an unkind nature.
And she hated Emily, no matter
she and Emily were flesh of flesh.
As Master Berry's health failed,
she gained power of the household...
and eventually, I was brought to
the city under the false pretense...
of our free papers being executed.
My poor children.
I thought I told you to commence
to putting on clapboards.
Yes, Master, I'm about it.
These have all been replaced.
And didn't I tell you
to get a keg of nails?
And so, I did.
So, you did.
God damn you.
I thought you knowed something!
I did as instructed.
If there's something wrong,
it's wrong with the instruction.
You black bastard.
You goddamn black bastard.
Strip your clothes.
I will not.
You will not live
to see another day, nigger!
I'm sorry!
I'm sorry! I'm sorry!
I'm sorry!
What is the matter?
What is the matter?
Master Tibeats wants to whip me
for using the nails you gave me.
This ain't done by half.
I will have flesh.
And I will have all of it!
Do not stir.
Do not leave the plantation.
For, if you run, I cannot protect you.
Stay here.
Gentlemen, whoever moves
that nigger is a dead man.
I am the overseer on
this plantation.
William Ford holds
the mortgage on Platt.
If you hang him,
he will lose his debt.
You have no claim to his life.
As for you two... if you have any
regard for your own safety...
I say, be gone!
You got no cause!
Platt is mine, and mine
to do with as I please!
If you touch...
Fetch the mule.
Get Master Ford.
Platt. Poor Platt.
I believe Tibeats is skulking
about the premises somewhere.
He wants you dead,
and he will have it so.
It's no longer safe for you here.
And I don't believe you will
remain passive if Tibeats attacks.
I have transferred my
debt to Edwin Epps.
He will take charge...
Master Ford.
You must know that I'm not a slave.
I cannot hear that.
Before I came to you,
I was a freeman.
I'm trying to save your life!
And I have a debt to be mindful of.
And that is to Edwin Epps now.
And he is a hard man. Prides
himself on being a nigger breaker.
But truthfully, I could find
no others who would take you.
You've made a reputation
of yourself.
Whatever the circumstances, you
are an exceptional nigger, Platt.
But I fear no good will come of it.
"And that servant...
"which knew his lord's will..."
Which knew his lord's will.
"...and prepared not himself..."
Prepared not himself.
"...neither did according
to his will...
"shall be beaten with
many stripes."
Do you hear that?
That nigger that don't
obey his lord...
That's his master, do you see?
That there nigger shall be
beaten with many stripes.
Now, "many" signifies a great many.
40, 100, 150 lashes.
That's scripture.
Pick that cotton.
Move along, now.
Come on, Edward!
Drive them niggers!
Pick that cotton!
Move along, now.
What are you doing, boy?
Come on!
240 for Bob.
What you got for James?
295 pounds.
That's real good, boy.
That's real good.
182 for Platt.
How much can even
an average nigger pick a day?
200 pounds.
This nigger ain't even average.
512 pounds for Patsey.
You menfolk got no shame
letting Patsey out-pick you.
The day ain't yet come
she swung lower than 500 pounds.
Queen of the fields, she is.
138 pounds...
I ain't done, Treach.
Ain't I owed a minute to
luxuriate on the work Patsey done?
Yes, sir.
Damn queen.
Born and bred to the field.
A nigger among niggers.
And God gave her to me.
A lesson in the rewards
of righteous living.
All be observant to that.
Now, Treach. Now speak.
138 pounds for Phebe.
Hit 145 yesterday.
Pull her out.
206 pounds for George.
How much he pick yesterday?
Get him out.
Come on, get.
Come on.
Come on, boy, move!
Get up!
We dance tonight!
Get up!
Get your fiddle, Platt.
Get up!
Come on! Get, get, get!
Come on, Platt. Come on!
Come on, where's your merriment?
Move your feet!
Sell her.
What's all this?
You will sell the negress.
Sell little Pats?
She pick with more vigor
than any other nigger.
Choose another to go.
No other.
Sell her.
I will not.
You will remove that black
bitch from this property...
or I'll take myself
back to Cheneyville.
Back to that hog's trough
where I found you?
Do not set yourself up
against Patsey, my dear.
Because I will rid myself of you
well before I do away with her.
What you looking at?
Damn woman.
I won't have my mood spoiled.
I will not.
Dance, I says!
Come on!
Pick it up, Platt.
Play that fiddle, boy.
Yes, Mistress?
Can you find your
way to Bartholomew's?
I can, ma'am.
This is a list of
goods and sundries.
You will take it to be
filled and return immediately.
Take your tag.
Tell Bartholomew to
add it to our debt.
Yes, Mistress.
Where you from, Platt?
I told you.
Tell me again.
Who were your master?
Master name a Freeman.
Was he a learned man?
I suppose so.
He learn you to read?
A word, here or there.
But I have no understanding
of the written...
Don't trouble yourself with it.
Same as the rest. Master brought
you here to work, that's all.
Any more will earn you 100 lashes.
Come here, boy.
Come on.
Where you going, boy?
On my way to Bartholomew's.
Sent by Mistress Epps.
You best get there, then.
Get there quick.
Any trouble?
No, ma'am. No trouble.
Platt Epps, good Sunday morning.
Good morning, Master Shaw.
Master sent me to retrieve Patsey.
May I approach?
You may.
Excuse me, Mistress Shaw.
Nigger Platt.
Master wishes you to return.
The Sabbath day, I is free to roam.
Master sent me running to fetch you,
said no time should be wasted.
Drink of tea?
Thank you, Mistress,
but I don't dare.
Would you know of
Master Epps's consternation...
to be any lessened with
your timely return?
Anger's his constant condition.
Sit and drink the tea
that I offered.
What'n be Epps's concern?
I'd rather not say.
Oh, little gossip on the Sabbath be fine.
All things in moderation.
As you are aware...
Master Epps is a man
of hard countenance.
You know he has ill feeling
towards your husband.
He do.
Master Epps has somehow
come to believe...
that Master Shaw is
something of a lothario.
A misguided belief, no doubt.
No doubt... if not born
out of truth itself.
I meant no disrespect.
He ain't heard you.
I meant
no disrespect to you, Mistress.
Got no cause to worry
for my sensibilities.
I ain't felt the end of a lash
in more years I can recall.
I ain't worked a field, neither.
Where once I served...
now, I have others serving me.
The cost to my current existence...
be Master Shaw
broadcasting his affections...
and me enjoying
the pantomime of his fidelity.
If that what keep me from cotton
picking niggers, that what it be.
A small and reasonable price
to be paid, for sure.
I know what it like
to be the object
of Master's predilections
and peculiarities.
A lusty visit in the night...
or a visitation with the whip.
Take comfort, Patsey.
The good Lord will manage Epps.
In His own time, the good
Lord will manage them all.
The curse of the pharaohs
were a poor example...
of what wait for the
plantation class.
This is nice.
Pats. Patsey!
Do not look in his direction.
Continue on.
- Patsey!
- Found her, Master.
And brought her back,
just as instructed.
What did you just now tell her?
What did you say to Pats?
No words were spoken,
none of consequence.
You're a liar.
You damn liar.
I saw you talking with her.
Tell me.
I cannot speak of
what did not occur.
I'll cut your black throat!
You come here.
- Master Epps.
- I said come here!
I brought her back,
just like you...
- Come here!
- Master!
I got her, just as instructed.
Master Epps!
You stay away from Pats, boy.
Master Epps.
It's the Lord's day.
Ain't nothing Christian
in us carrying on like this.
I concede to you.
In the name of valor...
help your master to his feet.
I'm gonna kill you!
What's the fuss?
Master Epps believed Patsey and me
to be in conversation
when we were not.
I tried to explain,
but it's led to all this.
What is it?
You can't remain the Sabbath
without her under your eye?
You are a no-account bastard.
A filthy, godless heathen.
My bed is too holy
for you to share.
What's he been telling you?
Of your misbegotten ways.
And he would know what of anything?
I ain't even spoken with him today.
You lying nigger, Platt.
Have I?
Have I?
There's all the truth he got.
Damn nigger.
A moment from the dancing.
Come sample what I baked for y'all.
Thank you, Mistress.
Thank you, Mistress.
There will be none for you, Patsey.
You see that?
You see that look
of insolence she give me?
I seen nothing but her turn away.
Are you blind or ignorant?
It was hot, hateful scorn.
It filled that black face.
You tell me you didn't see it...
it's because you choose not to look,
or are you saying I lie?
Whatever it was, it passed.
Is that how you are
with the niggers?
Letting every ill thought
fester inside them?
Look at them.
They foul with it.
They foul with their hate.
You let it be, it's gonna come
back to us in the dark of night.
You want that?
You want them black
animals leave us
gut like pigs in our own sleep?
You are manless.
A damn eunuch if there ever was.
If you won't stand for me,
I pray you'd
at least be a credit to
your own kind...
and beat every foul
thought from them.
Beat it from them!
Fill yourselves.
And then we dance.
I said, eat.
Platt, you awake?
I am.
I have a request.
An act of kindness.
I secreted it from the mistress.
Return it.
It yours, Platt.
For what cause?
All I ask, end my life.
Take my body to the margin
of the swamp.
Take me by the throat,
hold me low in the water...
until I is still and without life.
Bury me in a lonely place of dying.
I will do no such thing.
The gory detail with
which you speak...
I thought on it long and hard.
It is melancholia.
Nothing more.
How can you fall into such despair?
How can you not know?
I ain't got no comfort
in this life.
If I can't buy mercy from you...
I'll beg it.
There are others.
- Beg them.
- I'm begging you.
Why would you consign me to damnation
with such an ungodly request?
There is God here!
God is merciful...
and he forgive merciful acts.
Won't be no hell for you.
Do it.
Do what I ain't got the
strength to do myself.
It's a plague.
It's cotton worm.
It's a plague.
It's damn biblical.
Two seasons God done
sent a plague to smite me.
What I done that
God hates me so?
It's that godless lot.
They brought this on me.
I bring them God's
word and heathens
they are,
they brung me God's scorn.
Damn you!
Damn all y'all!
Mister Epps.
I am deeply saddened
to hear about your misfortune.
Your price don't
reflect your concern.
Listen up.
You're Judge Turner's
for the season.
More, if need be,
until my crops return.
Y'all bring no disrespect to me.
Don't bring no biblical
plagues to him, you hear?
Or I'll take it out on your skin.
Get out.
Get off the porch. You ain't
supposed to be on the porch.
Get off the porch.
Platt, is it?
Yes, sir.
You cultivate cane previously?
No, sir, I have not.
It comes to you quite naturally.
Are you educated?
No, sir. Niggers are hired
to work, not read or write.
You play the fiddle.
Yes, sir. Yes, I do.
Willard Yarner,
a planter up the bayou...
celebrates his anniversary
in three weeks' time.
I'll hold out your name to him.
What you earn is yours to keep.
Yes, sir.
Mind yourself, Platt.
Joyous day.
Joyous day.
Dark times is behind us.
Clean living and prayer
done lifted the plague!
As thick and white as
New England snow.
Now, my niggers is returned to me.
Heard Judge Turner gave you favor.
Did you beguile him, Platt,
with your slick nigger ways?
You won't stand idle, boy.
Not on my land.
Much work to do!
Days of old long since, huh?
Joyous, indeed! Whoo!
Let's go find something
sweet for you. Hmm?
Oh, pick this cotton
Pick this cotton
Oh, pick this cotton
Oh, pick that cotton
Man ain't mean, boys SLAVES:
Man ain't mean, boys
Man ain't mean, boys
Man ain't mean
Oh, work this cotton
Work this cotton
Oh, work this cotton
Work this cotton
Oh, work ain't hard, boys
180 pounds.
520 pounds for Patsey.
That's my girl.
Don't ever let me down.
160 pounds.
64 pounds.
A good day's labor
would average 200 pounds.
Yes, sir.
I'm sure in time,
you'll develop as a picker.
But it takes effort, boy.
Put some damn effort into it.
Yes, sir.
Take them out, get to whipping.
It's a tragedy.
How does such come to pass?
Working a field and picking
cotton like a lowly hand.
I'm of a damn sight better station.
I worked as an overseer, you know.
I did not know, sir.
Not "sir."
Just "Armsby."
I'm not owed more than
any other in the field.
How did you arrive at such
a place, if I may ask?
Ask, it's just conversation.
I became a little too
dependent on the whiskey...
a little too undependable
on the job.
Now, before you say
I'm just a sorry drunkard...
let me state my case.
As reliable employment as overseeing
is, it is no easy chore on the spirit.
I say, no man of conscious...
can take the lash to another
human day in and day out...
without shredding at his own self.
Takes him to a place...
where he either makes excuses
within his mind to be unaffected...
or he finds some way to
trample his guilty sensations.
So, I trampled.
With frequency.
I gave in to tales of
wealth and prosperity.
But such profitable outcomes are
reserved for plantation masters.
It's the lot of the
rest of us to serve.
Now, all I want is to earn a
decent wage and get myself home.
The proceeds of
my fiddling performances.
Just a few picayunes,
but all I have in the world.
I promise them to you if you
will do me the favor I require.
But I beg you not to expose me
if you cannot grant the request.
What is it you ask?
First, your word, sir.
On my honor.
It's a simple enough request.
I only ask that you deposit a letter
at the post office in Marksville...
and that you keep the action
an inviolable secret forever.
A patron is what I require, sir.
I'll do it.
And I'll accept
whatever payment's offered.
To assist you,
I put my own self at risk.
I will do so...
but fair compensation is all I ask.
Draw up your letter.
We'll meet again in two days?
In two days.
Thank you.
Well, boy...
I understand I got a learned
nigger that writes letters.
Tries to get white
fellas to mail them.
Armsby told me today...
the devil was among my niggers.
That I had one that
needed watching...
or he would run away.
When I asked him why...
he said you come over to him...
waked him up in the
middle of the night...
and wanted him to carry a letter...
to Marksville.
What do you got to say to that?
There's no truth to it.
You say.
How could I write a letter
without ink or paper?
Who am I gonna write to?
I got no friends living as I know of.
That Armsby...
That Armsby is a lying,
drunken fellow.
Didn't he want you to
hire him as an overseer?
Well, that's it.
He wants to make you believe
we're all gonna run away...
so you'll hire him as an overseer.
He believes you're a soft soap.
And he's given to such talk.
Made this story
out of whole cloth...
because he wants a situation.
It's all a lie, Master.
It's all a lie.
I'll be damned.
Were he not free and white, Platt.
Were he not free and white.
Sun gonna set here
Under the mountain
Sun gonna set here
Under the mountain
Sun gonna set here
Under the mountain
Get him water.
Get up!
Get up!
Nigger, get up!
What you looking at, boy?
Keep picking, boy!
I just wanna say
something about Uncle Abram.
He was a good man...
and he always looked out for
us ever since we were little.
God love him.
God bless him.
God keep him.
Went down to the River Jordan
Where John baptized three
When I woke the devil in hell
Said Johnny baptized me
I said roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year when Jordan roll
Well, some say
John was a Baptist
Some say John was a Jew
But I say John was a preacher
'Cause my Bible says so too
I said roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year when Jordan roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year
when Jordan roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year
when Jordan roll
Everybody say
Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year
when Jordan roll
Oh, children
Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year
when Jordan roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year
when Jordan roll
Right to the end.
Hey, Bass.
Oh, no, no, no.
No shame in taking
respite from the heat.
Drink, shade.
It's ungodly for travelers,
hearty or otherwise.
What's funny?
Epps, I merely mean to finish
the work at hand, as requested.
And as paid for.
If something rubs you wrongly...
I offer you the opportunity
to speak on it.
You ask plainly,
so I will tell you plainly.
What amused me just then was your
concern for my well-being in this heat...
when, quite frankly,
the condition of your laborers...
"The condition of my laborers"?
It is horrid.
It's all wrong.
All wrong, Mr. Epps.
They ain't hired help.
They're my property.
You say that with pride.
I say it as fact.
If this conversation
concerns what is factual
and what is not,
then it must be said...
that there is no justice nor
righteousness in their slavery.
But you do open up an
interesting question.
What right have you to your niggers,
when you come down to the point?
- What right?
- Mmm.
I bought them.
I paid for them.
Of course you did, and the law says
you have the right
to hold a nigger.
But begging the law's
pardon, it lies.
Suppose they pass a law taking away
your liberty, making you a slave.
That ain't a supposable case.
Laws change, Epps.
Universal truths are constant.
It is a fact,
a plain and simple fact...
that what is true and right
is true and right for all.
White and black alike.
You comparing me to a nigger, Bass?
I'm only asking, in the eyes of God,
what is the difference?
You might as well ask
what the difference is
between a white man and a baboon.
I seen one of them
critters in Orleans.
Know just as much as
any nigger I got.
Listen, Epps.
These niggers are human beings.
If they are allowed to climb
no higher than brute animals...
you and men like you will
have to answer for it.
There is an ill, Mr. Epps...
a fearful ill resting
upon this nation.
And there will be
a day of reckoning yet.
You like to hear
yourself talk, Bass...
better than any man I know of.
You'd argue that black was
white, or white, black...
if anybody would contradict you.
A fine supposition if you lived
among Yankees in New England.
But you don't.
You most assuredly do not.
I knew it, I knew it,
I knew it!
Where is she?
Where's Pats?
Where is she, damn it?
Where is she?
Phebs, where is she?
Where is Patsey? Where is she?
What you standing there for?
We know nothing of her, Master.
- Know nothing of what?
- We know nothing of...
Of what? Where has she gone?
She run off, ain't she?
I don't know, Master.
- Where is she?
- I don't know, Master.
You know, you know, you know!
You know!
No, I don't!
You miserable black dogs.
You stand like the deaf and dumb.
She gone.
My Pats is gone.
Run off? Run off, did you?
- Master Epps...
- You miserable wench. Where you been?
I been nowhere!
Lies to your misdeeds!
The Sabbath day, Master.
I took me
a walk to commune with the Lord.
Bring the Lord
into your deceptions?
You're coming from
Shaw's plantation.
- No!
- Master Epps.
Now, you speak?
Now that you want to add to
her lies, you find your tongue!
I went to Master Shaw's plantation.
Ah! You admit it.
Yes, freely.
And you know why?
I got this from Mistress Shaw.
Mistress Epps won't even grant
me no soap to clean with.
I stink so much, I make myself gag!
500 pounds of cotton.
Day in, day out!
More than any man here.
And for that, I will be clean.
That's all I ask.
This, here,
what I went to Shaw's for.
The Lord knows that's all!
You're a liar.
And you, blind with
your own covetousness!
I don't lie, Master.
If you kill me, I'll stick to that.
I'll fetch you down.
I'll learn you to go to Shaw's.
Run and fetch some line.
Strip her. Strike her bare
and lash her to the post.
You done this to yourself, Pats.
Do it.
Strike the life from her.
Beat her.
Give her the whip!
Give it all to her!
Platt, you come here
and you beat her now.
Come here!
I'd rather it you, Platt!
You strike her.
Strike her.
He pantomimes.
There's barely a welt on her.
That's what your niggers
make of you...
a fool for the taking.
Strike her, Platt.
Strike her!
You will strike her.
You will strike her until her flesh
is rent and meat and
blood flow equal...
or I will kill every
nigger in my sight.
You understand me?
Strike her! Strike her!
Until I say no more.
I ain't said nothing!
Give me the whip!
Get up!
Thou devil!
Sooner or later...
somewhere in the course of eternal
thou shalt answer for this sin!
Sin? There is no sin.
Man does how he pleases
with his property.
At the moment, Platt,
I'm of great pleasure.
You be goddamn
careful I don't want to
come and lighten
my mood no further.
Master Bass.
I want to ask you what part
of the country you come from.
No part of this land.
I originate from Canada.
Now, guess where that is.
I know where Canada is.
I've been there myself.
and Kingston and Queenston
and a great many places.
Well-traveled for a slave.
How came you here?
Master Bass...
if justice had been done,
I never would have been here.
How's this?
Tell me all.
I'm afraid to tell you.
Every word you speak
is a profound secret.
Your story...
it is amazing.
And in no good way.
Do you believe, sir,
in justice, as you said?
I do.
That slavery is an evil
that should befall none?
I believe so.
If you truly do...
then I ask, I beg...
that you write my friends
in the north...
acquainting them of my situation...
and beseeching them
to forward free papers.
It would be...
an unspeakable happiness...
to see my wife...
and my family again.
I traveled this country
for the best part of 20 years...
and my freedom is everything.
The fact that I can walk out of here
tomorrow brings me great pleasure.
My life doesn't mean much to anyone.
It seems yours might mean
a lot to a whole lot of people.
But what you ask of me,
sir, scares me.
And I must say, I am afraid.
Not just for you, but for me.
I will write your letter, sir.
And if it brings you your freedom,
it will be more than a pleasure.
It will have been my duty.
Now, would you kindly
hand me those shingles?
Where's the boy called Platt?
Come here, boy.
Your name is Platt, is it?
Yes, sir.
You know that man?
Mr. Parker.
Say again?
Mr. Parker.
That man received a letter
compiling many accusations.
You look me in the eye...
and on your life,
you answer me truthfully.
Have you any other name than Platt?
Solomon Northup is my name.
Sheriff, what's all this?
It's official business.
My nigger, my business.
Your business waits.
Tell me of your family.
I have a wife, two children.
What the hell?
- What are your children's names?
- Margaret and Alonzo.
What was your wife's name
before her marriage?
Anne Hampton.
I am who I say.
Where you going, Platt?
Who authorized you to
interfere with my property?
My authority.
Platt, you come back here. Platt!
You come back here, boy.
You unhand him.
Platt is my nigger!
He is
Mr. Solomon Northup.
You say.
You come here, unfamiliar
to me, and make claims.
I got no doubts.
The man is Solomon Northup.
The hell he is! He's my nigger,
and I'll fight you for him!
As is your right.
As it will be my pleasure
to bankrupt you in the courts.
Your decision. Unhand him.
I know you had some
hand in this, Platt.
I'm gonna get to the bottom of it.
Pay him no mind.
I paid good money for this nigger.
Courthouse got papers to prove it!
And we got papers
proving he's free!
I own you. You belong to me.
You hear me, Platt?
Unhand him!
You'll have 200 stripes
across your back by sundown!
Get my horse, Treach.
Get away from him, Pats.
I'm gonna be seeing you real soon.
Solomon, we need to make haste.
I'll apologize...
for my appearance.
But I have had...
a difficult time...
these past several years.
Who is this?
He's my husband.
It is very good to meet you, sir.
We have much acquainting to do.
Yes, sir.
And this is your grandson.
Solomon Northup Staunton.
forgive me.
There is nothing to forgive.
Went down to the River Jordan
Where John baptized three
When I woke the devil in hell
Said Johnny baptized me
I said roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year
when Jordan roll
Well, some say
John was a Baptist
Some say John was a Jew
But I say
John was a preacher
'Cause my Bible says so too
I said roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year
when Jordan roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year
when Jordan roll
Oh, roll now
Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year
when Jordan roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year
when Jordan roll
Everybody say
Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year
when Jordan roll
Oh, children
Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
My soul will
rise in heaven, Lord
For the year when Jordan roll
Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll My soul
will rise in heaven, Lord