Twelve Years a Slave is an account of actual events that took place in the life of Solomon Northup, during the pre-Civil War era of the 1840s. It follows the trials and tribulations of an educated African American man that was born into freedom and later kidnapped, taken away from his family, and forced into slavery.
His story brings to life a shockingly common practice that took place during those times. In his journey, Northup, who is a native of Saratoga, New York, and has a wife with three kids, gets lured into leaving his home town by two circus promoters who ask him to accompany them to Washington, D.C., while getting paid to perform at a musical gig.
This trip, which he thought would only take a few days turned in to an unimaginable voyage of deceit and great misfortune. Those few days turned into 12 long years, in which Northup was placed back into slavery in the isolated plantation country of Louisiana's Bayou Boeuf where he quickly learned that the mere mention of his past freedom would result in severe punishments or possibly his own death.
His story takes a drastic turn when a heroic friend risks his own life to help deliver the news of Northup's whereabouts to his wife, in order to help him regain his freedom. This heroic act could ultimately get Northup killed or help return him back home, to his family and freedom.