12 Years a Slave

2013 R 2h 14m Blu-ray / DVD

12 Years a Slave

2013 R 2h 14m Blu-ray / DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
The autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was abducted from New York state and sold into slavery in the mid-1800s, serves as the basis for this historical drama. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Northup, and Brad Pitt plays an abolitionist.
Blu-ray DVD
Widescreen 2.40:1
English SDH, Spanish (Neutral)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Neutral): Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, English: DVS - Descriptive Video Service
Widescreen 2.40:1
English SDH, Spanish (Neutral)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio, English: DVS - Descriptive Video Service, Spanish (Neutral): Dolby Digital 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1
R - Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
age 15+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 15+
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age 15+

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.

Sexual Content

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.

Social Behavior

No one can take away your dignity or your identity, no matter how hard they try.


Not applicable

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Some wine-drinking at dinner; later one of the men at the table is shown throwing up, as if he has drunk too much.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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