🎥🍣 Movie Sushi — 12 Years a Slave

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6 min readApr 4, 2022

Solomon plays the violin at a lavish ball, comprising mostly white men and women. When the song’s finished, everyone applauds him.

Solomon’s associate Mr Moon introduces Brown and Hamilton, who are looking for a musician. Brown asks if Solomon could accompany them to Washington. They offer attractive rates of pay, including his return journey to Saratoga in two weeks. The three men dine convivially, liberally refilling Solomon’s wine glass.

Solomon wakes with his feet and hands chained together. The white jailer calls him “boy”. Solomon protests he’s a free man. Without papers, he’s just a Georgia runaway. Solomon’s beaten until the bat breaks. The jailer then viciously thrashes Solomon. Afterwards, Solomon sobs and calls for help.

Solomon has welts across his back, but he’s sure he’ll be rescued. He’s put onto a paddle steamer with other slaves. He’s advised to do and say as little as possible. A new slave is stabbed to death by their jailer.

Mr Jonus Ray has documentation showing that Clemens Ray is his property. When the captain frees Clemens, he desperately hugs his master.

Sitting dockside in a line, Solomon denies being called Platt. Master Freeman slaps him across the face. His name’s Platt. Freeman’s taking the slaves to market. Young Ezra has incredibly sound limbs. A female slave’s a marvellous creature. Potential buyers enjoy refreshments. One slave’s never been sick a day in his life. Another’s an excellent pastry cook. Yet another young slave is very brawny.

Platt costs $1,000. Eliza costs $700. Eliza pleads that she’ll be a faithful slave if she’s kept with her children. Someone wants to see her son, Randall. Freeman says he’ll grow into a fine beast. Randall’s price is $600.

Master Ford buys Eliza and Platt. She screams at losing her children so Freeman attacks her. Platt’s forced to play the fiddle to drown out the screaming. Soon, Miss Ford comforts Eliza that she’ll soon forget about her children.

At work, Platt inadvertently humiliates Tibeat with an engineering suggestion Tibeat hadn’t considered. Tibeat grins in disbelief. Ford’s impressed, though, allowing Platt to collect a team and try his idea. It works. Ford calls Platt a marvel, but Tibeat’s seething.

Eliza’s loudly wailing. Platt says she should control herself. Eliza says their boss isn’t concerned and Platt luxuriates in his favour. Platt says he’s waiting to escape.

Tibeat criticises Platt’s joins. Platt defends his work. Tibeat calls him a brute and makes him get up at daybreak to procure nails from Overseer Chapin and attach clapboards.

Later, Tibeat finds Platt hammering nails. He unfairly criticises Platt again, who protests. Tibeat destroys Platt’s work and racially abuses him. But, Platt won’t strip naked as commanded.

Tibeat and two others drag Platt to a tree to hang him by the neck. Chapin arrives and stops them. Ford holds the mortgage on Platt. Chapin chases the men off at gunpoint. Cruelly, Chapin leaves Platt strung up by the neck, tip-toeing delicately on the mud. Ford says Platt’s not safe from Tibeat, so Ford’s sold Platt to Edwin Epps. Epps prides himself on breaking slaves.

Epps reads scripture. The slave that doesn’t obey his Lord, his master, will be beaten with many stripes. Epps translates this as 40, 100, 150 lashes. This is the final word of God.

With Edward cracking his whip, the slaves toil in the cotton fields. Afterwards, their hauls are weighed. 240 pounds for Bob. 295 for James. 182 for Platt. 512 for Patsey. Epps calls her a gift from God. 138 pounds for Phebe, who yesterday picked 145. Phebe’s made to step forward. 206 pounds for George. Yesterday, he picked 229. George must step forward. Platt, also. Those who stepped forward are whipped.

Epps arrives home drunk. Miss Epps throws a glass bottle at Patsey’s head wanting the slave sold. Epps says she’s excellent at picking cotton. Miss Epps leaves and Patsey’s dragged away.

Later, Platt’s sent to Master Shaw’s plantation to retrieve Patsey. Miss Shaw and Patsey are drinking tea. Although she’s black, Miss Shaw hasn’t felt the end of a lash for ages, nor has she worked a field. The cost to her current existence is Shaw broadcasting his affections and her enjoying the pantomime of his fidelity. Patsey should take comfort. God will judge the slaving class far harsher than any other group in history.

Epps calls to Patsey. Platt whispers to her. Epps asks what Platt just told her. Platt denies everything. Epps starts chasing Platt with a knife. When Miss Epps learns Patsey’s involved in the dispute, she calls Epps a no-account, filthy, godless heathen.

That night, Epps rapes a silent Patsey, before slapping her across the face and throttling her.

Everyone but Patsey gets a sample of Miss Epps’ baking. She tells her husband Patsey gave her an insolent look. She thinks Epps should beat every foul thought from his slaves. Miss Epps then cuts Patsey’s face, who screams and starts crying. Once they’ve eaten, they must dance again. Slave morale is again very low.

Patsey wants Platt to mercifully drown her in the swamp. She has no comfort in her life. God is merciful and he forgives merciful acts. She doesn’t have the strength to do it herself. Platt refuses.

Epps’ crop is infested with cotton worm. He blames his slaves and starts whipping them at random. The slaves are transferred to Judge Turner until Epps’ crop returns.

Turner sets up Platt with a gig playing the violin. He can keep whatever he earns. Platt etches the names of his family into the violin Ford gave him for his engineering skills.

The blight passes and a joyous Epps has his slaves back. He then accuses Platt of having manipulated Turner with slick slave ways, leaning on the head of another slave as he talks. Patsey now has a bloodshot eye.

After the day’s work, George has picked 180 pounds. Patsey’s picked a massive 520 pounds. Platt’s picked 160 pounds. White slave, Armsby’s picked 64 pounds. The expected amount is 200 pounds. The underperforming slaves are removed and whipped.

Armsby was once an overseer, but whipping other people badly affected him. Now, he wants to go home. After swearing Armsby to secrecy, Platt says he wants him to deposit a letter at the Post Office in Marksville. Armsby accepts all the money Platt has in the world and they shake hands.

Platt uses blackberry juice as ink. But, Armsby double-crosses Platt, who denies everything. He says Armsby made it up to get the overseer’s job. Platt burns the letter.

Platt and other slaves are making a wooden building with Master Bass. Epps offers Bass a respite from the sun and Bass laughs. Epps questions this reaction. Bass says Epps was only concerned for him, but not his slaves.

Epps says they’re his, he can do what he wants with them. Bass says there’s a fearful ill resting upon the nation and there’ll be a day of reckoning yet.

Epps can’t find Patsey, fearing she’s run away. He rests against another slave as if they’re a tree stump to get his breath back. Patsey had gone to Shaw’s plantation to get some soap since Miss Epps refuses her that. Patsey smells so bad, she makes herself gag. She regularly picks five hundred pounds of cotton in a day and just asks to be clean.

Epps says she’s lying and orders her stripped and lashed to a post. Miss Epps wants the life struck from her. Epps makes Platt whip Patsey. He reluctantly does so. Epps gets a gun and commands Platt to strike Patsey harder. Before long, Epps snatches the whip and starts brutally whipping Patsey himself.

Platt learns that Bass is from Canada. Platt explains he’s only there by accident. Bass is dumbfounded to learn of Platt’s horrific experiences. Platt says it would be an unspeakable happiness for him to see his family again. Bass will write Platt’s letter. Treach appears and Bass makes Platt pass him some shingles.

When the Sheriff arrives, Platt confirms his name’s Platt. Mr Parker received Bass’s letter. Platt confirms his real name’s Solomon Northup. He has a wife, Anne Hampton, and two children, Margaret and Alonzo. Epps protests that Platt’s his slave. Parker threatens to bankrupt Epps in the courts if he continues. Patsey calls out and she and Solomon briefly embrace.

Dressed in a suit again, Solomon meets his grown family. Margaret hugs Solomon, then introduces her husband and grandson Solomon Northup Staunton. Solomon begs Anne’s forgiveness. She says there’s nothing to forgive.

Solomon Northup lost his case against the slave pen owner, James Burch. His kidnappers Hamilton and Brown also avoided prosecution.

In 1853, Solomon became active in the abolitionist movement, lectured on slavery throughout the Northeastern United States and aided fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad.

(Based on a true story)

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor. Michael Kenneth Williams. Michael Fassbender. Rated 15. Dir Steve McQueen. Released in the UK 2013. Runtime 2hrs 14mins

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Ad teaches & gives speeches on his MH struggle + recovery at institutions right across the world. (Movie Sushi pieces contain spoilers)