Narratives in Hollywood: 12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave Review

As I wrote last week, the Freedom Center is excited for all things “12 Years A Slave.” The film is largely historically accurate – something that we don’t take for granted at a history museum. Furthermore, the awareness the film and its stars are bringing to issues we deeply care about. We’re fortunate to host an advance screening of the feature film tonight at the Esquire Theater in Clifton for our local audience.

The film premiered in large U.S. cities last Friday night, and it premieres across the rest of the country by November 1.

In honor of the film and the Freedom Center’s event tonight, I thought I’d share some of the best posts, articles and videos surrounding the film and its importance to the legacies of slavery and human trafficking today.

My Top Picks to Learn More About Solomon Northup and ’12 Years A Slave’

Reviews of 12 Years A Slave

And some of my favorite reviews of the film:

  • Susan Wloszcyana for
  • Manohla Dargis for The New York Times (“The Blood and Tears, Not the Magnolias: ’12 Years a Slave’ Holds Nothing Back in Show of Suffering” is the entire article’s name, which says a lot!)
  • Ann Hornaday for the Washington Post (“A masterpiece of form, content, emotion and performance,” she writes in the subtitle of this piece)
  • Peter Travers for Rolling Stone
  • Michael Phillips for the Chicago Tribune
  • Eric Kohn for Indie Wire calls it “a Slavery Movie for the Ages”
  • And finally, Peter Debruge for Variety who said “’12 Years a Slave’ will serve as an important teaching tool, giving audiences who’ve never witnessed the dynamics of slavery an impression of how the system worked

Do you plan on seeing the film?

If you live in the Cincinnati area or are planning a trip to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in the next few months, you can tour the museum to learn more about Solomon Northup. Our museum team has created a self-guided experience that explores Solomon’s story and major themes in the film. You can also watch our documentary, Journey to Freedom, which features Solomon’s story, in our Harriet Tubman Theater beginning in a few weeks!

If you’re interested in reading Solomon’s memoir by the same name, I recommend Twelve Years a Slave – Enhanced Edition by Dr. Sue Eakin (available for Kindle, in audiobook, and in paperback).  If you prefer listening to audiobooks, then you can download the book read by actor Louis Gossett, Jr. and use the promo code FREEDOM. (When you purchase the audiobook at and use the code at checkout, we will receive a donation of 20% of your net sales price. is partially owned by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Use of the code will not impact the purchase price.)