“Twelve Years a Slave” Literature Review Essay Example
“Twelve Years a Slave” Literature Review Essay Example

“Twelve Years a Slave” Literature Review Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1202 words)
  • Published: November 10, 2021
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Twelve years a slave is regarded as one of the best movies in the contemporary world. It is a masterpiece that is founded on an incredible story of a man who is struggling to survival and acquire freedom from slavery. In the story, Solomon Northup is an independent black man who is captured and traded into captivity where he faces in the hands of his master. This paper seeks to analyze the movie and the book that are based on this movie and then examine the differences that exist between the book and the film.

The Most Striking Scene in The Book

The most striking chapter that I witnessed when I was reading the book is chapter 18. This is founded on the point that the chapter brings into perspective the issue of slavery by presenting the heartbreaking moments that N


orthup and other slaves underwent. The scene presents critical instances of the dreadful moral issues that the slavery exacted to the slaves. Every story that is presented in this chapter is an illustration of the things that were lost to the demeaning power of the slave business: the liberty of thought and expression, the basic human poise, the significance of life, reality, moral uprightness, and the father’s legacy. Northup (2014) finishes chapter 18 of the book by talking about Master Epps where he says that he possessed some honorable qualities, but the process of his reasoning would not allow him to comprehend that in the eyes of God there was no difference in skin color (Northup, 2014). This statements not only motivates me to embrace all people but also gives sets the foundation of human dignity

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as the major theme of the book.

In the same scene, Platt inoffensively comments about his possible sale to the new owner, and he is severely castigated for the so-called betrayal. This occurs as though beating Platt would make him adore his master more. These incidences put me into the situation that the slaves were subjected into and therefore helps me to understand Northup’s story well.

The Most Striking Scene in The Movie

There are two major scenes that bring Twelve Years a Slave movie into perspective. These include the hanging and whipping scene, which both work to enhance the horrifying context of the film in an amazing way. However, the most striking scene, in my opinion, was the hanging scene.

The hanging scene comes after Solomon Northup, also known as Chiwetel Ejiofor in the cast, is abducted and traded into captivity is subjected to brutality by a slim slave master who assaults him badly. The assault results in Ejiofor being physically harmed and hung on a tree. The master not only ensures that the noose of the rope is around his neck and is continuously choking him, but also that his toes are touching the muddy soil below him in a manner that keeps him from being totally strangled (McQueen et al., Audio, Chapter 13). This scene was remarkable, and it evoked my emotions for the following reasons. The first reason is based on Ejiofor’s facial appearance and how evidently the pain travels across his face.

In the movie, Ejiofor is presented as an expressive actor who can do a lot with facial appearance than he can do with a written sentence and he is basically the

best performer to assume all the sufferings that the slaves were forced to undergo. In fact, he can easily reflect the sufferings of the slaves to the viewers in a manner that they can sympathize with. It was impossible for me to watch Ejiofor experiencing this peril?and great agony,?and not feel a portion of what he was he going through. The second reason why the hanging scene was striking to me is based on the fact that the act affected me thoroughly and this indicated the uniqueness of McQueen’s edicts and Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography.

Differences in The Story of the Movie and The Book

Although Twelve Years a Slave film received a lot of acclamation after it was released in 2013, A critical comparison of the movie and the book indicates that that the film was not concerned with the actual details as Solomon Northup was. As a result, there were some shortcuts in the story of the film.

For instance, the slave dealer, Goodin, is not included in the film version of the narrative, together with Northup’s involvement in his ownership. Furthermore, Arthur and also Clemens Ray were joined to form one person, and where Ray is been freed while in New Orleans instead of Arthur. Solomon’s session with William Ford is also edited, whereas the responsibility of Tibeats in the screenplay is exaggerated. In fact, the responsibility of the two actors is united with amalgamated with other minor actors and played more like a senseless person than the hostile and livid man presented in Northup’s narrative.

The film exerts the fault of Northup’s auction to William Ford while in the actual sense it was John

Tibeats who hawked Platt to the infamous Epps (Young, 2014). More so, the movie proposes that after John’s assassination strive, Northup informed the virtuous Ford regarding this issue and his position as a liberated black fellow and then requested Ford to assist him. Based on the film, those petitions were disregarded. Northup story though presents altered facts.

Like the real-life exposure of Northup, much of the 12 Years a Slave film is based on the plantation that was owned by Epps. Here, the movie focuses more on the troubles of Patsey and thus stays somehow true to the memoir. Nevertheless, this means that the movie downplayed or disregarded the events that are presented Northup’s individual narrative and also overlooks key occasions that occurred to the servants like Abram and also Wiley. In general, 12 Years a Slave movie did a good job by depicting the description of its foundation, although there exist various changes that were incorporated into the movie so that one can trust it as a dependable substitute for Northup’s memoir.


Twelve years a slave is one of the famous masterpieces in the United States. It reminds the readers of the slave trade that was so rampant in the 18th century. The most striking chapter that I witnessed when I was reading the book is chapter 18. It clearly indicates the traumatizing moments that the slaves underwent and thus motivates the reader to understand the situation as it was.

The most remarkable scene in the film was the hanging scene as it also indicated the suffering of the slaves with a major focus on Northup. However, there are some major differences in the scenes of

the book and movie as explained above.


McQueen, S., Pitt, B., Gardner, D., Kleiner, J., Pohlad, W., Milchan, A., & Katagas, A. (Producers), & McQueen, S. (Director).

(2013). Twelve years a slave Video file. United States: Summit Entertainment. Northup, S. (2014).

Twelve years a slave. New York: Open Road Integrated Media, 2014. Young, T. D.

(2014). American Slavery: The making of Twelve Years a Slave. New York: Harper Audio.

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