Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that 12 Years a Slave is a harrowing, moving drama based on a book written in the 1850s by Solomon Northup recounting his experiences as a slave, and it can be difficult to watch. There are scenes that show extreme brutality (beatings, hangings) and rough language (the use of the "N" word), and extreme emotional cruelty. Expect some slave market nudity, plus the sexual assault of a slave by a master. Very young teens and tweens may find it too intense, but older teens should watch it to bear witness to a tragic part of American history.
A woman grabs a man's hand and touches herself with it; it's more sad than sexy. Another scene shows men and women completely naked while "buyers" look them over. A master ogles his female slave.
Characters are strung up on a tree and hanged; in one prolonged scene, one man struggles mightily not to be choked, and it's tough to watch him. Men and women are beaten, sometimes with whips, and publicly, too. The "N" word is hurled left and right; a master forces himself on a slave. Two men engage in a fistfight; another man is stabbed, his body hurled overboard a ship. One close-up shows the bloody aftermath of a horrible, extended lashing.
"Whore" and the "N" word.
No one can take away your dignity or your identity, no matter how hard they try.
Drugs / Tobacco /
Some wine-drinking at dinner; later one of the men at the table is shown throwing up, as if he has drunk too much.