12 YEARS A SLAVE
1 INT. TOWNHOUSE/STUDY - DAY 1
-EARLY APRIL, 1841-
We are close on a PAIR OF BLACK HANDS as they open A
FINELY WRAPPED PACKET OF VIOLIN STRINGS.
WE CUT TO the hands stringing a VIOLIN. It's not a high
end piece, but it is quite nice.
WE CUT TO a wide shot of the study. Sitting in a chair
with violin in hand is SOLOMON NORTHUP; a man in his late
twenties. Everything about Solomon, his mien and manner,
is distinguished. But he, too, seems a hardy individual.
Someone who has known manual labor in his time.
Solomon begins to lightly play his violin, as if testing
the strings, their tuning. Satisfied, Solomon begins to
play vigorously. As he does, we make a HARD CUT TO:
INT. HOUSE/LIVING ROOM - EVENING
We come in on a lively affair. A dinner party is being
thrown within the confines of a fairly stately house. In
attendance are EIGHT COUPLES. All are WHITE and all are
FAIRLY YOUNG, in their early twenties. The men and women
are dressed in very fine attire. We should get the sense
that for the most part they are people of means.
The furniture has been set aside in the living room. At
the moment the couples are engaged in the dancing of a
The music they are dancing to is being played by Solomon,
having cut directly from the tune he was previously
playing. He plays with a light determination, and in no
way seems possessed with empty servitude.
Solomon concludes the reel, and the dancers break into
enthusiastic applause, which is followed by personal
thanks and congratulations from all. It should be clear
that despite their respective races there is much
admiration and appreciation for Solomon's abilities.
INT. NORTHUP HOUSE/BEDROOM - MORNING
It is a Saturday morning. Clad in her finest attire is
ANNE; Solomon's wife, a few years younger than he. We
see also the Northup children: MARGARET who is eight, and
ALONZO who is five. They are handsome, and well groomed
kids. Anne straightens up the children. She finishes,
3 CONTINUED: 3
she rises up and stands behind them, almost as if
preparing to pose for a portrait.
They all wait a moment, then Solomon enters the foyer.
He stands and looks admiringly at his family. ADMIRINGLY
stressed. It isn't that he doesn't have love for them,
he does as well. But in the moment, he truly admires his
greatest accomplishment: a family that is healthy and
well and provided for. He goes to his children, and
hands each a coin, then goes to Anne. Gives her a kiss
on the cheek. The children giggle at the sight.
EXT. STREET - DAY
Solomon and his family are out walking along the streets
and groves of Saratoga.
The streets are well populated this morning with many
people out strolling. Most are WHITE, but there are
BLACKS as well. They are FREED BLACKS who mingle fairly
easily - though not always completely - with the whites.
We see, too, a few BLACK SLAVES who travel with their
WHITE MASTERS. These pairings are largely from the south
and - despite the fact the blacks are slaves - they are
not physically downtrodden, not field hands. They are
well dressed and "leading apparently an easy life" -
comparatively speaking - as they trail their masters.
As they walk, Solomon and his family arrive to an
intersection well-worn and muddied from horse and cart
traffic. Solomon and his children easily jump across the
muck. Anne stands at the lip of the puddle, calls for
Solomon to help her across.
Solomon, turning back to his wife with a broad smile
waving her forward:
Come, Anne. Jump.
The children, now smiling as well, egg their mother on.
Jump. You can make it. I've done it. You can make
I will not ruin my dress. Catch
Solomon moves close, holds out his arms. Yet, there's
still just a bit of mischievousness in his eyes. Anne
gives her husband a lightly stern look to which Solomon
I will catch you, Anne.
Again, lightly stern:
And with that Anne takes the leap. Solomon catches her,
swings her around grandly and sets her down lightly to
the delighted applause of the children. That done,
Solomon takes Anne's hand and leads her on.
As Solomon and his family make their way, among the
slaves on the street, we see one in particular; JASPER.
As he trails his MASTER he can't help but note Solomon
and his family as they enter A STORE. His intrigue of
this most handsome and harmonious group should be
With his Master occupied, Jasper moves slyly toward the
STORE. Frozen on the spot, Jasper looks on admiringly.
Suddenly a voice barks out-
A VOICE (O.S.)
Jasper! Come on!
INT. STORE - LATER
We are inside the store of MR. CEPHAS PARKER; a white man
and a supplier of general goods. Solomon greets him
Mr. Northup. Mrs. Northup.
With money in hand the Northup children move quickly
about the store looking for items to purchase.
Anne looks over some silks and fabrics. Parker suggests
A new cravat, Solomon? Pure silk
by way of the French.
We are in need of a fresh carry
all for the Mrs's travels.
A year's passed? Off to Sandy
Using a long pole, Mr. Parker fetches down a CARRY ALL
from an upper shelf.
Something to suit your style, but
sturdy enough for the forty miles
Handing the Bag to Anne, she is immediately taken by it.
At what price?
We will take it. Children, come
see what your father has just
purchased for me.
As the children run over - chattering excitedly about the
new gift - they RUN PAST JASPER who has quietly entered
At the checkout counter sits a portrait of WILLIAM HENRY
HARRISON, the edges draped in black crepe. Before the
book sits a LEDGER. Mr. Parker asks of Solomon:
If you would sign our condolence
book. My hope is to find a way to
forward it to the Widow Harrison.
Sad days for the nation.
Yes, certainly. Poor Mrs. Harris
and her children. I hope brighter
5 CONTINUED: (2) 5
Jasper looks scared, timid. It's as though he'd like to
engage, but is unsure of as to how. Noting Jasper, Parker
A moment, sir, and you will be
If we could discuss the price...
5 CONTINUED: (3) 5
Forgive me, Mrs. Northup. A
customer waits. Welcome, sir.
To Jasper, with good nature:
Shop well, but mind your wallet.
Ignore the gentleman's nonsense.
Now, may I interest you in a new
cravat? Pure silk by way of the--
Before Parker can finish, the door opens. It's Jasper's
Master, FITZGERALD. He's stern, clearly displeased.
My regrets for the intrusion.
Fitzgerald looks to Solomon. It is a cold glare as
though he wasn't speaking to, and has no interest in a
response from a black man. Looking back to Parker:
Good day, sir.
INT. NORTHUP HOUSE/DINING ROOM - EVENING
Anne, busy in the kitchen, puts the final touches to the
meal, which is just about to begin. Solomon, in the
meanwhile, sits at the head of the table reading from a
NEWSPAPER. He reads to his children solemn news of the
funeral arrangements for the recently deceased President
"Thus has passed away from earth
our late President."
Solomon starts from the top of the article.
"During the morning, from sunrise,
the heavy bells had been pealing
forth their slow and solemn toll
while the minute guns announced
that soon the grave would receive
its trust. Our city as well as
our entire nation has been called
to weep over the fall of a great
and good man. One who was by the
wishes of a large majority of our
6 CONTINUED: 6
people raised to fill the highest
place of trust within their gift.
William Henry Harrison."
A long moment of quiet, the family continuing to eat.
Then, from Margaret:
Will you read it again?
Not just now, darling.
Anne enters the dining room and places a large chicken at
the center of the table. As she takes a seat, all heads
For food that stays our hunger,
For rest that brings us ease,
For homes where memories linger,
We give our thanks for these.
Margaret, that was wonderful.
Thank you, Papa.
Alonzo, do you have something to
Yes, I helped Momma make this.
Yes, and you were such a good
help. Especially making the gravy.
Papa, I would very much like to
learn how to play the violin.
Could you teach me?
Yes, but I asked Papa first.
Both of you, calm down. We will
have our first lesson after this
wonderful dinner. And on that
note, let's start eating.
6 CONTINUED: (2) 6
The family all tuck in to their meal. The scene is one of
warmth and happiness.
7 INT. NORTHUP HOUSE - NIGHT 7
Solomon and Anne have fun and difficulty putting the
unruly children to bed. They are tucked in, and each
given a kiss good night. As Margaret lays down to sleep,
Anne blows out the candle darkening the room.
Silhouetted in the doorway, Solomon takes Anne in his
arms, holds her tightly as they both luxuriate in the
simple, beautiful gift that is their children.
INT. NORTHUP HOUSE - NIGHT
Now alone together, we see Anne and Solomon wrapped in
each other's arms. Beyond being physically close,
emotionally close, they are just so very comfortable with
one another. They are the very representation of a
couple who are made for each other.
They look at each other for a prolonged time.
Three weeks. Two days.
It is the custom. I wonder what
you'll do without me?
I won't stay idle.
SOLOMON's eyes lower.
Darling, it's good money.
If only I didn't have to share
your cooking with other people.
ANNE holds his gaze.
8 OMIT 8
9 EXT. NORTHUP HOUSE - MORNING 9
We are just outside the Northup house. A CARRIAGE waits
with a DRIVER. Anne and the children are dressed for
travel - Anne sporting HER NEW CARRY ALL. The Driver
loads bags into the carriage.
For her parting gift, Anne gives her husband a kiss.
Anne and the children loaded up, the Driver chides the
horse and the carriage heads off. Solomon waves a hearty
good bye to his wife and children.
EXT. PARK - DAY
Solomon is now out for a stroll. He passes two men - two
in particular - who stand outside conversing with MR.
MOON himself: MERRILL BROWN and ABRAM HAMILTON. Brown
is about 40, with a countenance indicating shrewdness and
intelligence. Hamilton is closer to 25, a man of fair
complexion and light eyes. Both are finely, if perhaps a
bit garishly, dressed. Hamilton, as Solomon describes
him, slightly effeminate.
Moon, spotting Solomon:
Call the Devil's name... There he
is now. Mr. Northup...! I have
two gentlemen who should make your
acquaintance. Messrs. Brown and
Mr. Northup, these two gentlemen
were inquiring about distinguished
individuals, and I was just this
very moment telling them that
Solomon Northup is an expert
player on the violin.
He was indeed.
Mr. Moon is being overly gracious.
10 CONTINUED: 10
Taking into consideration his
graciousness and your modesty, may
we trouble you for a moment of
your time to converse, sir?
EXT. PARK/PAVILION - LATER
We make a jump to a green space. Solomon, Brown and
Hamilton are sitting at a bench.
That is our usual employee. The
company currently in the city of
Circus too constricting a word to
describe the talented and merry
band with which we travel. It is
a spectacle unlike most have ever
witnessed. Creatures from the
darkest Africa as yet unseen by
civilized man. Acrobats from the
Orient able to contort themselves
in the most confounding manners.
And I myself in aide of Mr. Brown;
an internationally renowned
practitioner in the art of
We are on our way thither to
rejoin the company having left for
a short time to make a small
profit from our own exhibitions.
The reason for our inquiry with
Yes. We had just a devil of a
time in procuring music for our
11 CONTINUED: 11
entertainments. Men of true
talent seemingly in short supply.
Thank you sir...
If we could persuade you to
accompany us as far as New York...
We would give you one dollar for
each day's service and three
dollars for every night played at
our performances. In addition we
would provide sufficient pay for
the expenses of your return from
New York here to Saratoga.
You understand this is all very
Consider it an opportunity to see
If there is any way in which you
would give consideration to the
Solomon gives the whole deal one last consideration.
The payment offered is enticement
enough, as is my desire to visit
We are delighted, sir. So
delighted. Though we would add
that our travel plans--
We would like to depart with
11 CONTINUED: (2) 11
As luck would have it, my wife and
children are traveling. I will
write her of our plans.
Excellent! I would beg you
collect yourself, then we may
INT. NORTHUP HOUSE/BEDROOM - LATER
Back in his house, we see Solomon packing: putting some
clothes in a travel case, and collecting his violin as
13 INT. NORTHUP HOUSE/STUDY - LATER 13
Solomon sits down to write a letter; pen poised over
paper with already a few lines written. But Solomon
thinks better of it. WITH LITTLE THOUGHT HE TEARS THE
PAPER AND SETS IT ASIDE. WE SHOULD GET THE SENSE THAT
THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE BY LETTER
IS LOST ON SOLOMON. THIS FACT WILL HAVE GREAT WEIGHT IN
THE NEAR FUTURE.
EXT. SOLOMON'S HOUSE/INT. COVERED CARRIAGE - LATER
Solomon enters the buggy, carpet bag in hand. Brown and
Hamilton are waiting. They ride in a covered carriage
led by a pair of "noble" horses.
No letter to post?
No need. My return will coincide
with my family's.
We're off then.
INT. PUB - EVENING
-MID TO LATE APRIL, 1841-
We find ourselves in a roadside pub. It serves the
purpose of drinking and diversion, and little more. As
Solomon plays his violin, Brown and Hamilton perform a
decent, paired magic routine before a SPARSE AUDIENCE NOT
OF "SELECT CHARACTER."
16 INT. PUB - LATER 16
After the show, the pub now fairly empty, Solomon,
Hamilton and Brown sit down to eat. Hamilton and Brown
drink, but again Solomon abstains. Though Solomon
remains cool, Hamilton and Brown put up a great show of
being disappointed as Hamilton counts out what little
money was collected.
Not an additional tip from a one
of them. They expect to be
entertained for nothing.
And not satisfied a bit despite
giving them more than what they
It's the national mood. There's
too much grief to make room for
My sincerest apologies, Solomon.
You were promised opportunity, and
you were given none.
The opportunity is with the
circus. A two man show poorly
promoted, what were we to expect?
But the circus bills itself.
I have told you of the circus with
which we are connected. Creatures
from the darkest of Africa.
Acrobats from the Orient who--
You have described it, yes.
Yes. We need to return
immediately to Washington.
Solomon...I believe us familiar
enough now, but forgive me if I am
bold...would you consider making
the trip with us?
Solomon gives a bit of a laugh at the idea.
16 CONTINUED: 16
Entertaining at pubs and inns has
it's place, but a man of your
skills deserves better.
And more importantly you would
build your own name and following.
The circus tends to attract those
with the highest of reputations.
An introduction here and there
could amount to a lifetime of
reward. Now would be the time.
With your family away, an
opportunity presents itself.
Said as fellow artists as well as
businessmen. Well worth the
effort at least.
You present a flattering
representation. As my family will
be traveling back shortly, perhaps
I might commit only to one trial
Oh, very good, sir. Very good. I
cannot recall being so excited.
There is a practical concern. If
you are to continue on with us you
should obtain your free papers.
Here in New York, no. But we will
be entering slave states and as a
matter of precaution... It's to
all our benefit we should not have
to come to account for your well
Six shillings worth of effort
could well save much trouble
16 CONTINUED: (2) 16
We'll go to the Customs House in
the morning, then travel on. Good
business all around.
17 OMIT 17
18 EXT. WASHINGTON - DAY 18
The city is a swarm of people. At the moment the populace
is displaying both sorrow and anticipation. Sorrow for
the loss of the President. Many are dressed in black,
and black crepe hangs nearly everywhere. Black armbands
are frequently seen, and the occasional American Flag
hung at half mast. As well, there are portraits of
Harrison at varying locations.
Having arrived in Washington, Solomon, Hamilton and Brown
RIDE ONWARD IN THEIR CARRIAGE.
INT. GADSBY HOTEL/DINNING ROOM - EVENING
A decent though crowded, boisterous and smoke-filled
joint. Very lively. Solomon, Hamilton and Brown are
among several parties drinking in the hotel's bar. As
with seemingly everywhere in the city black crepes
accessorize the background. Brown counts out $43.00 IN
COIN on the tabletop. Solomon is astonished by the
Forty-three dollars. All to you.
That...it's far more than my wages
Consider the remainder an advance
from the circus. I cannot tell
you...I honestly wish you had seen
the expression of our director
when I described your abilities.
He was fairly overcome with
You should have invited him to sup
I did. I did, but so many
preparations before the company is
Tomorrow we shall prepare for our
Washington debut. But tonight, our
thoughts are with the great man
19 CONTINUED: 19
for whom this city prepared solemn
memorial. He has passed from the
praise of men to receive the
plaudit of his heavenly father. A
fine man has passed. Let us
remember him with a drink.
19 CONTINUED: (2) 19
Both Hamilton and Brown hold up their tankards to drink.
Solomon, a bit reluctantly, does the same.
Another. Our departed President
deserves all the salutation we can
Hamilton and Brown drink again, and Solomon does as well.
21 OMIT 21
22 EXT. ALLEY - LATER 22
WE MAKE A HARD CUT to Solomon outside of the Pub, in an
alley, with Brown and Hamilton in silhouette, back-lit by
the street lights. He is violently ill, hunched over and
That's all right Solomon. No
shame in it. No shame at all.
A23 INT. GADSBY HOTEL - STAIRCASE A23
Hamilton and Brown help Solomon to lumber up the spiral
staircase, passing the occasional bemused guest.
23 INT. GADSBY HOTEL/SOLOMON'S ROOM - NIGHT 23
Hamilton is placing a spittoon near Solomon's bed, where
a prone and reeling Solomon lays. Hamilton sits on the
bed. As he strokes Solomon's sweaty face, Hamilton
I'm afraid that Brown and I
haven't brought you much luck.
But rough waters bring smooth
sailing. Eventually they do.
Shhh. We won't hear it. We
Let him sleep.
Hmm. A good night's sleep. And
tomorrow...tomorrow you will feel
as well and refreshed as though
the earth were new again.
Hamilton lingers a bit too long and a bit too close to
Solomon for Brown's taste. With more than a bit of
Hamilton! Nothing more we can do
Such is the pity.
Displaying an odd sort of disappointment, Hamilton slinks
away from the bed. He crosses to, and BLOWS OUT A
CANDLE. The room goes dark with a blackness more than
night. Brown and Hamilton exit. Solomon lays in the
dark and moans. His sounds becoming MORE AND MORE
INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - DAWN
24 CONTINUED: 24
Solomon stirs, then slowly awakes to his new
circumstances. He finds himself in a nearly lightless
room about twelve feet square with walls of solid
masonry. There is a thick and well-locked door, a small
window covered with iron bars and a shutter. The only
furniture is a wood stool and an old fashioned, dirty box
stove. As Solomon rises he sees that his HANDS are
CUFFED - the chain running to a bolt in the ground - and
his LEGS IN IRONS. At first Solomon is incredulous. But
that emotion is replaced first by fury and then panic.
He begins to pull on the chains, fight against them. He
does so with increasing desperation. Solomon flails
about, the sounds of the steel chains whipping and
beating against the masonry. He grunts and screams
without regard as the cuffs and irons bite into his
flesh, but he cannot pull himself free.
After several minutes of intense effort, Solomon tires,
slows, then finally he collapses. And in this collapsed
state he remains.
INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - MORNING
Solomon again awakens. He hears sounds beyond the
door...footsteps. Eventually the door opens. Enter
JAMES BURCH - who runs the slave pen - and EBENEZER
RADBURN who works as a turnkey and overseer.
As the door opens, this is the first light to seep into
the otherwise near-black room. The shine is painful to
Solomon's eyes. With no salutation whatsoever, Burch
Well, my boy, how yah feel now?
Solomon rises up as best he can. With all the resolve he
can put together he states what he considers to be fact:
I am Solomon Northup. I am a free
man; a resident of Saratoga, New
York. The residence also of my
wife and children who are equally
free. I have papers. You have no
right whatsoever to detain me--
Yah not any--
And I promise you - I promise -
upon my liberation I will have
satisfaction for this wrong.
Resolve this. Produce your
25 CONTINUED: 25
With confidence Solomon goes to the pocket of his
trousers. He searches one, then the other, but they are
empty. He feels quickly about himself, but clearly his
papers have been lifted. Solomon's confidence shifts,
but to resolve rather than fear. Papers or none, he will
not be easily cowed. Still, Burch asserts:
Yah no free man. And yah ain't
from Saratoga. Yah from Georgia.
A moment. Not a word spoken among the trio, but Solomon
and Burch do some serious eye fucking, neither man
yielding. Burch says again:
Yah ain't a free man. Yah nuthin'
but a Georgia runaway.
Burch waits for Solomon to acquiesce. Solomon does not
in any way. Both men exchange a long and daring stare.
The two are clearly at an intellectual stand off. Burch,
leans to Radburn, SAYS SOMETHING WHICH WE CANNOT
Radburn walks off-camera and returns with a pair of
"instruments:" a PADDLE - the flattened portion, which is
about the size in circumference of two open hands, and
bored with a small auger in numerous places. He also
carries a WHIP. A cat-o-nine tails; a large rope of many
strands. The strands unraveled and a knot tied at the
extremity of each. Burch says again:
Yah a runaway nigger from Georgia.
Solomon stands with a quiet stoicism. He will say
nothing of the kind.
As that is the case, Solomon is seized by both men. He is
pulled over the bench, face downward, shirt still on his
back. Radburn then STEPS ON HIS CHAINS, holding Solomon
down in a bent position.
With no preamble, Burch begins to beat Solomon about the
back with the paddle. Burch strikes him wordlessly - no
taunting, no sneering. Solomon screaming against each
blow. His back immediately SWELLING WITH WELTS AND
This beating continues on and on and on until quite
literally Burch WEARS HIMSELF OUT with the effort.
Dripping in sweat and panting:
25 CONTINUED: (2) 25
Yah still insist yah a free man?
Burch regrets hearing this. Not from sympathy, but
rather because he's nearly too tired to go back to
beating Solomon. Yet, as if returning to work, Burch
returns to pummeling Solomon. Burch punctuates the blows
Yah a slave. Yah a Georgia slave!
Burch continues to strike, and strike... This time until
the paddle SNAPS IN HALF. Burch then GRABS THE WHIP.
Hardly missing a stroke, he whips Solomon relentlessly,
the flails cutting into Solomon's back. Again, Burch's
arm tires before Solomon "breaks."
Are yah slave?
Burch goes back to whipping and whipping, and whipping...
SOLOMON'S BACK IS NOW TORN OPEN WITH LACERATIONS AND
OOZING WITH BLOOD. Finally Burch can whip no more. He
pours sweat and sucks air, leaving himself just enough
energy to take up his instruments and EXIT. Radburn
lingers for a moment. He takes the irons off Solomon's
legs. Opens the window some. As he makes these
gestures, in a patronizing and confidential manner, one
wrought with poor sincerity::
I seen a good many of the black
kind just where yah're. Sick.
Make me sick. Often times the
situation was resolved, and I
think; what was all the beatin'
and abuse for? Things end as they
should, and the violence was for
naught. So why cause trouble when
they ain't no cause for it? Be of
a cooperative nature, and things
don't need be particularly
Or, yah can carry on like yah
been, and I fear yah won't live to
see Sunday next.
With that thought, Radburn exits. Solomon rests. But to
rest seems like giving in to defeat. He begins pulling
25 CONTINUED: (3) 25
on his chains. But for all his struggling, the chain
loosens none. Solomon calls out:
Help me! Someone help me!
If anyone at all hears him, they do not respond. Solomon
continues his plaintive cry for assistance.
EXT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - CONTINUOUS
Beginning with a TIGHT SHOT on the shuttered, barred
window of Burch's dungeon - Solomon's cries barely eking
beyond the space - THE CAMERA PULLS BACK from the
building, onto the city until clearly visible is the
Nation's capital. It's icon's of freedom - the WHITE
HOUSE, the CAPITOL BUILDING - fairly mocking Solomon's
captivity. Simultaneously, barren at the early hour and
cluttered with litter and the remains of previous day's
procession, the city is a bleak and forboding sight.
INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - DAY
IT IS DAY NOW. The door to the yard is thrown open. The
harsh white light floods all over Solomon.
28 OMITTED 28
28 CONTINUED: 28
29 MOVED TO SC. A32 29
30 EXT. BURCH'S DUNGEON/YARD - DAY 30
It is a yard just beyond Burch's. The yard is hemmed in
by a brick wall. In the yard are two men, and a boy.
The oldest is CLEMENS RAY a man of about 25 years of age.
He is well educated. JOHN WILLIAMS is about 20 years
old. He is born and bred a slave, is lacking in
education, and overwhelmed with fear of the situation.
Finally there is a child about 10 years of age who
answers to the name of Randall.
Solomon, Clemens Ray, John and Randall ALL STAND NAKED.
Though they try to cover their privates a bit, they are
all aware of the uselessness of modesty. Radburn is
present. He has before him A COUPLE OF BUCKETS OF COLD
WATER. He throws water on the naked men.
Go on. Warsh up.
The men, soaking in humility as well as water, begin to
scrub with A SINGLE BAR OF HARSH SOAP passed among them.
The boy, too. Get him clean.
Solomon takes some soap and rubs it over Randall.
Scrub now. Git 'em clean.
Solomon scrubs harder. Randall - clearly cold and
uncomfortable - appeals to Solomon.
Do you know when my Mama will
Hush him up!
Seeing Solomon has no answer for him, Randall begins to
Mama ..! Mama! Is she going to
Doing all he can to spare the child from a certain
Randall is becoming nearly inconsolable.
30 CONTINUED: 30
Saying anything to keep the boy quiet:
Your mother will come, I swear she
will, but you must be silent.
Please. Be silent!
On the seeming strength of Solomon's promise, Randall
goes silent. Solomon looks to Radburn, who just throws
water on the soapy men.
31 OMITTED 31
A32 INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - EVENING A32
Radburn brings food in to Solomon; a shriveled piece of
meat and some water. Just barely enough to sustain
Solomon. Radburn also has a SHIRT.
That old thing of yours is just
rags and tatters. Need something
proper to wear.
Solomon doesn't move for the clothing.
Go'won. Put it on.
With slow defiance, Solomon does as instructed. He
removes what remains of his old shirt - the one he was
wearing when first kidnapped - and puts on the one
Radburn brought him. The shirt's ill-fitting and dirty.
Despite that, Radburn says:
There. Tha's fine. Tha's fine.
Got no gratitude?
Yah keep bein' proper, yah'll see
how things work out.
Radburn starts to take the old shirt.
No! It was from my wife.
Rags and tatters. Rags and
Taking the shirt, the "rags and tatters" as he calls
them, Radburn exits, locking the door behind him.
Solomon sits with the plate of food before him. He
pushes the plate away rather than eat.
EXT. BURCH'S DUNGEON/YARD - DAY
Sitting together out in the yard are Clemens Ray, John
and Solomon. Over time they have drawn trustworthy
enough to speak with one another. At the moment Solomon
is still trying to apply reason to the situation.
32 CONTINUED: 32
Randall wanders about in the background. As usual, he
calls out for his "Mama." By now, however, his calls
should feel like little more than background noise.
This can't stand. It is a crime.
I believe now someone lay in wait
for me. My drink was altered...
We are free men. They have...they
have no right to hold us.
Solomon waits for a response from the others. They give
We need a sympathetic ear. If we
have an opportunity to explain our
Who in your estimation is that
The two men I journeyed with. I'm
certain they're making inquires at
this very moment.
I would be just as certain they
are counting the money paid for
delivering you to this place.
They were not kidnappers. They
were artists. Fellow performers.
You know that? You know for
certain who they were?
32 CONTINUED: (2) 32
The fact is, Solomon can't say for certain.
How I reckon the situation:
whatever past we had...well,
that's done now. The reality to
come is us being transported
southward. New Orleans if I were
to venture. After we arrive,
we'll be put to market. Beyond
that... Well, once in a slave
state I suppose there's only one
I don't say that to give you empty
For y'all. For y'all they ain't
nothin' but that! But John was'n
kidnapped. John bein' hold as
debt, tha's all. Massa pay his
debt, and John be redeemed--
Boy, our masters will not come for
John is nearly beside himself with panic.
Now John's...John's sorry for
y'all, but tha's how it be. Where
y'all goin', yah goin' witout
John. Massa take care of me.
Massa take care.
All three men turn and look. At the moment Randall
doesn't call out emptily. At the door to the yard is
Burch along with two women. One in her late twenties;
ELIZA. She is "arrayed in silk, with rings upon her
fingers, and golden ornaments suspended from her ears."
Though a slave, Eliza was a mistress and has - to this
point - lived well. This is reflected in her airs and
her speech. The other is a little girl, light in skin
color, of about seven or eight. This is EMILY, Randall's
As she enters the yard Eliza squeals with high delight,
then breaks into tears of both sorrow and joy. Clearly
this is mother and child being reunited.
32 CONTINUED: (3) 32
As Burch locks the yard door, Eliza clutches Randall.
She is overcome with emotion.
My darling. My sweet, sweet baby.
INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - EVENING
Later in the evening. Solomon now shares his space with
Eliza and her children. As the children rest, Eliza
drops into a lament as if pleading her case to Solomon
who lends a sympathetic ear.
Both slyly, and with a bit of aggrandizement:
When I say I had my master's
favor, you understand. Above even
his own wife, I had it. Do you
know that he built a house for me?
Built it on the sole condition
that I reside there with him. The
added promise in time I would be
emancipated. And for nine years
he blessed me with every comfort
and luxury in life.
Displaying the finery she still wears:
Silks and jewels and even servants
to wait upon us. Such was our
life, and the life of this
beautiful girl I bore for him.
But Master Berry's daughter...she
always looked at me with an unkind
nature. She hated Emily no matter
she and Emily were flesh of flesh.
As Master Berry's health failed,
she gained power in the household.
Eventually, I was brought to the
city on the false pretense of our
free papers being executed. If I
had known what waited; to be sent
south? I swear I would not have
come here alive.
33 CONTINUED: 33
Eliza turns to her children:
My poor, poor babies.
34 INT. BURCH'S DUNGEON - NIGHT 34
It's the deep of night, all are sleeping. A KEY TURNS IN
THE LOCK AND THE DOOR OPENS. Burch enters with Radburn
beside him. Both carry LANTERNS with them. Hardly
giving Solomon and Eliza a moment to rouse themselves,
Come on. Get yer blankets. Get
Sensing that things will not end well:
No, please don't...
I don't want to hear yer talk.
Get in the yard.
Ain't no need for all that.
Putting hand to Randall's head.
Jus takin' a li'l trip, tha's all.
Don't want to frighten the
chil'ren none over a li'l boat
ride, do yah?
Eliza gives a shake of her head to the negative.
Alright then. Git yerselves up.
EXT. BURCH'S DUNGEON/YARD - NIGHT
We now have Solomon, Clemens, John, Eliza and the
children. They are being cuffed together. As John is
cuffed, he pulls back. Scared. He beings in
John's massa gunna pay his debt.
John's massa gunna come for him.
35 CONTINUED: 35
Not wanting to hear any of this talk, Burch strikes John
several times in the head with a sap-like instrument.
Weakened, but again:
John's massa gunna--
Burch again strikes John until he's quiet. Curiously,
Emily and Randall don't even flinch. Why would they?
They are quite used to seeing this kind of violence.
Not a word out of none a yah. Not
Burch and Radburn begin driving the shackled slaves from
EXT. BURCH'S DUNGEON/INT. WAGON/FLAT BED - LATER
The slaves are lead to a flat bed of the horse and
carriage. They are made to lay down side-by-side. We stay
with them as some sort of cloth is flung over them,
obscuring and blacking out their view.
At that moment, the screen is BLACKENED and we hear the
sound of the cart moving in haste.
EXT. WASHINGTON, D.C. DOCK - NIGHT
Led by Burch, the group of slaves arrive to a dock. They
are taken quickly up a gangplank and onto the steamboat
ORLEANS as the CAPTAIN, CREW and a MULATTO WOMAN WATCH,
but do not interfere.
INT. ORLEANS/HOLD - CONTINUOUS
The slaves are hustled down one at a time into a dark,
dank hold among barrels and boxes of freight...and RATS.
Burch comes around and "checks" the chains; makes sure
they are all secure and locked.
Satisfied, he heads up out of the hold. Radburn follows.
Alone in the dark in the hold, John cries, as does Eliza.
Solomon stares down Burch for as long as he can, as if
wishing bad things. As if wanting to exact some measure
of revenge. But the greater insult is that Burch and
Radburn, engaged in conversation, take no notice of
Solomon whatsoever. He is that insignificant to them.
That fact, that reality, makes Solomon boil with a rage
he cannot express in words.
38A INT. STEAMBOAT - NIGHT 38A
We are now in the engine room of the steamboat, pistons
pumping, black oily cogs turning, the power and the
rhythm are both aggressive and hypnotic. A shovel comes
into view, feeding the furnace.
38B EXT. SEA - DUSK/DAWN 38B
The steamboat is en route between Washington and Norfolk.
We tilt up from the violent water foam to the powering
paddles of the boat.
39 MOVED TO 43A 39
40 OMIT 40
41 OMIT 41
42 OMIT 42
43 INT. ORLEANS/HOLD - LATER - NIGHT 43
Down in the hold the slaves eat, pray. The MULATTO WOMAN
moves among them, catching ELIZA's eye.
Cheer up and don't be so cast
Clemens Ray and Solomon watch as the Mulatto Woman
returns to top deck, the trapdoor locked firmly behind
her. Clemens Ray turns to Solomon with a deadpan stern
If you want to survive, do and say
as little as possible. Tell no
one who you really are and tell no
one that you can read and write.
43 CONTINUED: 43
Clemens Ray turns away from Solomon, eyes lost into the
CLEMENS RAY (CONT'D)
Unless you want to be a dead
Solomon's face is one of a confused despair.
43A EXT. NORFOLK/PORT - DAY 43A
We see a flat overhead view of the port of Norfolk.
Sardines are laid out to dry in rows, glittering in the
day's sun as if like silver pennies. A chain of slaves
enter the frame and are led one by one on to the docked
MORE SLAVES - about 15 in all, of various genders and
ages - are brought on board. Chief among them is ROBERT
who fights viciously with his captors. "With all haste"
is shoved down into the hold.
Having taken their cargo as far as they care or need to,
Burch and Radburn depart. They do so without a word
spoken to Solomon or the others.
With this new and sizable batch of slaves on board, the
crew again CASTS OFF, and the Orleans makes its way
44 INT. ORLEANS/GALLEY 44
Solomon is back cleaning in the galley. As he cleans, he
again watches Robert prep food. Robert's skill with a
knife is not lost on Solomon.
45 INT. HOLD - LATER - DAY 45
The hold is packed tighter now.
Muzzle covering his face, Robert is shackled with his
hands tied behind his back. Solomon and Clemens Ray look
A sailor descends the staircase and takes off Robert's
muzzle, shooting him a forbidding look. He leaves.
45 CONTINUED: 45
Solomon, Clemens Ray and Robert, now in mid-conversation.
I say we fight.
Robert delivers this in a hushed voice.
The crew is fairly small. If it
were well planned, I believe
they could be strong armed.
Three can't stand against a whole
crew. The rest here are niggers,
born and bred slaves. Niggers
ain't got the stomach for a fight,
not a damn one.
All I know, we get where we
travelling we'll wish we'd died
Survival is not about certain
death, it is about keeping your
Solomon looks at Clemens Ray, agitated -- his voice now
raised above the previous whispers. Grits his teeth.
Days ago I was with my family, in
my home. Now you tell me all is
lost. "Tell no one who I really
am" if I want to survive. I don't
want to survive, I want to live.
46 OMIT 46
47 OMIT 47
47A EXT. SEA - DAY 47A
The steamboat paddles pound the water, filling the whole
frame. The vessel ploughs on south.
48 OMIT 48
48A INT. HOLD - NIGHT 48A
The slaves are asleep.
A Sailor descends the ladder approaching Eliza. He bends
down and attempts to wake the daughter by caressing her
Solomon rouses, and looks across to witness the scene.
From his vantage point, we see Eliza stand to interrupt
the Sailor. The Sailor looks at Eliza, Eliza looks back
at him. Knowingly she leads him off into a corner of the
As she does so, Eliza passes Robert who jumps up to stand
between Eliza and the Sailor. Stretching out a firm hand
to the sailor's shoulder, Robert's look says "No you
Clemens Ray is awake now, watching.
There is an odd moment of stillness between the Sailor
and Robert, an impasse.
We focus on the Sailor's face. Slowly, a greasy smile
erupts upon it. Back now to Robert's face, a look of
Robert looks down. We follow his gaze to the knife that
has already been jabbed unseen between Robert's ribs.
The sailor withdraws the bloody blade.
A wide shot of the two men. Robert collapses to the
floor like a sack of potatoes.
Clemens Ray and Solomon react. Complete horror.
49 OMIT 49
50 OMIT 50
51 EXT. ORLEANS/DECK - DAY 51
We are back up on the deck of the ship. SOLOMON AND
CLEMENS RAY dump ROBERT's body over the side of the ship.
Solomon watches as the body churns for a moment in the
wake of the vessel... then sinks beneath the water.
Clemens Ray, with no sentimentality:
Better off. Better than us.
51A EXT. NEW ORLEANS HARBOUR - DAY 51A
Solomon's POV from the back of the steamship of Robert's
corpse slipping gracefully into the water.
52 EXT. NEW ORLEANS/PORT - DAY 52
-MID MAY, 1841-
A white male, fairly smart, with broad shoulders, stands
Clemens...! Clemens Ray!
We are in the port of New Orleans, one of the busiest in
the young nation.
On the dock itself there is a bustle of activity as goods
are loaded and unloaded from a various ships. It's a bit
of controlled chaos as a VARIETY OF LANGUAGES are spoken
and shouted while slaves are shuttled from the Orleans to
a holding pen. Solomon, and all the slaves are
overwhelmed by all that is happening around them.
Two men - among many - are awaiting the arrival of the
Orleans. They are JONUS RAY - Clemens Ray's master - and
DAVIS who is the solicitor of Mr. Ray. They both look
like they mean business. The moment the gangplank is
laid, Ray yells for Clemens.
Clemens, seeing his master, is nearly crazy with delight.
He is, uncharacteristically beside himself. Ironically,
his master now represents "freedom."
52 CONTINUED: 52
...My master... Master Ray, sir!
Clemens pulls on his chain. As he does so, Several other
slaves collapse in his effort to reach his master, like
Who is in charge of this vessel?
I am the Captain.
I am Mr. Jonus Ray. My solicitor
has documentation verifying that
the Negro named Clemens Ray is my
As he reads PAPERS handed to him by Davis:
I know nothing of--
You are ordered by court to return
that property immediately, or face
charges of thievery.
My duty is to transport goods. I
am not responsible for their
Remove these contraptions!
To his mate:
Biddee does as ordered. Once free, Clemens hugs and sobs
over his master as would a lost and then found child.
It's all well, now, Clemens. You
will return home with me.
(to the Captain)
Consider this notice and warning.
52 CONTINUED: (2) 52
Ray, Davis and Clemens head away. Solomon seems both
desperate and hopeful of some aid from Clemens and Ray.
But there is none forthcoming. Ray and Clemens continue
on - Clemens not so much as even looking back in
Solomon's direction. Solomon stands and watches as they
fade into the environs and are gone from sight.
EXT. NEW ORLEANS/PORT - LATER
Hours later. The slaves sit off on one side of the dock,
baking in the sun, awaiting their fate.
THEOPHILUS FREEMAN - a tall, thin-faced man with light
complexion and a little bent - moves along the deck
calling out names from a list. The slaves STAND as they
Oren. John. Lethe. Eliza.
Randall. Emily. Platt... Platt!
Solomon does not respond. Freeman looks around. He
Captain, who shipped that nigger?
Freeman steps to Solomon. He gives him a looking over.
Solomon does as told.
You fit the description given.
Why didn't you answer when called?
My name is not Platt. My name is--
Freeman strikes Solomon hard across the face.
Your name is Platt, and I will
teach you your name so that you
(to the Captain)
Shackle my niggers. Get them to
54 I/E. CART - LATER 54
Solomon is carted off along with the rest of "Burch's
stock:" Eliza and her children, John and Solomon.
As they move off from the port in a make-shift cart, it
opens up to the frenzic, busy port.
For the first time Solomon sees true and severe slavery.
These are not visiting servants, such as Jasper was back
in Saratoga. These are humans held in strict bondage -
herded like cattle, chained together as if in a "chain
gang." Slaves are evident not merely by the color of
their skin. The residue and accessories of slavery are
everywhere. Blacks almost universally display scars -
THICK AND HEAVY DEAD TISSUE FROM LACERATIONS LEFT
UNTREATED - brands, and are often missing limbs. Blacks
are held in all types of shackles, from simple chains to
elaborate bindings, to neck collars that are spiked.
Some are muzzled or forced to wear bits. One slave is
attacked by a dog and the slave owner. The dog pulls and
tears at the slave's clothes. THESE IMAGES SHOULD BE A
CONSTANT AND CONTINUAL CANVAS TO THE PIECE. EVER
PRESENT, BUT NOT REALLY COMMENTED ON AS THEY ARE THE
NORM. They should be a reminder that not only are people
being oppressed, but that there is an entire system of
oppression in place.
EXT. FREEMAN'S SLAVE PEN - LATER
"Burch's stock:" arrive at Freeman's slave pen. They are
led in by Freeman and his house slave CAPE - a mulatto.
The yard is enclosed by plank, standing upright, with
ends sharpened instead of brick walls as with Burch's.
Including Burch's group there are about 30 SLAVES in the
Solomon and the others look around and see nothing but
downtrodden and despondent faces. Three men sit next to
each other with muzzles and quietly stare back at this
new batch of arrivals. One attempts to speak, but all
that comes out is a muffled, unintelligible sound.
EXT. FREEMAN'S SLAVE PEN - LATER
The slaves are in various states of undress, men and
women alike. They clean themselves, scrubbing with soap
and water. Women wash their hair. Men shave, skin is
oiled. Freeman walks among them, inspecting them as they
INT. FREEMAN'S SLAVE PEN - LATER
The slaves are given new clothes by Cape. The men are
given hat, coat, shirt, pants and shoes. The women
57 CONTINUED: 57
frocks of calico and handkerchiefs to bind about their
58 INT. FREEMAN'S/GREAT ROOM - LATER 58
It's an odd, ironic scene. The slaves are in a large and
fairly ornate room within Freeman's house. CAPE PLAYS A
PAINFUL TUNE ON A FIDDLE - background music - as Freeman
tries to line up A SMALL GROUP OF THE SLAVES, he becomes
less patient, jittery and nervous, knowing that his
livelihood is at stake, he wants his slaves to make a
good impression. Sometimes his patience gets the better
of him, and his hands move freely in direction of the
The business has the air of an etiquette class, though
what Freeman is trying to do is coach the slaves into
being more "sellable." He works with them in groups of
five or so.
Tallest to smallest, understand?
Are you taller than her? Then
you'd go before her. Do it.
(to the group)
Keep your heads up. A sense of
direction; that's how you look
smart. None of those saucer eyes.
Rid yourself of that smile. Look
like a goddamn grinnin' monkey.
Put the least thought in your
head. C'mon, now. Think of
Weary of Cape's playing, Solomon moves to Cape. He asks:
Can you play a reel?
Nah. I don't know no reel.
If I may...?
Cape looks to Freeman:
He sick of your caterwaulin'. Let
him play, boy. Let's see what he
Cape reluctantly hands the fiddle over to Solomon.
Solomon tunes it a bit, then begins to play. His fingers
stiff at first, he takes a moment to warm up. But as he
warms up he is, despite the circumstances, masterful.
58 CONTINUED: 58
THE SLAVES ALL CLAP ALONG. SOME DANCE ALONG. All admire
his work. Freeman chief among them.
Keep on. Keep on.
Solomon continues to play.
A damn sight better than you,
Cape. A damn sight better.
Cape looks bitter as Solomon plays on.
INT. FREEMAN'S/GREAT ROOM - DAY
We come in on an odd sort of sight; A JUMBLE OF ACTIVITY.
CUSTOMERS have come to see Freeman's lot - the room all
gussied up with flowers. Freeman moves among them,
displaying them as a rancher would prize chattel.
Freeman makes the slaves hold their heads up - "look
smart" as he previously admonished them. They are made
to walk briskly back and forth while customers feel their
hands and arms and bodies, turn them about and ask what
skills they possess. The Customers routinely make the
slaves open their mouths and show their teeth.
At times a MALE or FEMALE SLAVE are taken off to the
side, stripped and inspected more minutely.
One of them, John, is stripped and inspected.
Cape, as he's done previously, plays his fiddle.
A buyer - WILLIAM FORD; a man of middle age, and an
attractive nature in his tone of voice - consults a list
he's drawn up and asks of Freeman:
What is the price for the ones
Platt and Eliza?
A thousand for Platt; he is a
nigger of talent. Seven hundred
for Eliza. My fairest price.
You will accept a note?
As always, from you, Mr. Ford.
Eliza is beside herself as it seems she is about to be
separated from her family. She begs of Ford:
59 CONTINUED: 59
Please, sir... Please don't
divide my family. Don't take me
unless you take my children as
You will have the most faithful
slave in me, sir. The most
faithful slave that has ever
lived, but I beg that you do not
A BUYER interrupts the skirmish and approaches Freeman
and delivers coolly, eyeing Randall-
Your price for the child?
You see how fit the boy is. Like
ripe fruit. He will grow into a
Randall is made to run, and jump by FREEMAN - exhibiting
his activity and his condition.
Six hundred, and that's fair and
He reaches into his waistcoat and retrieves his wallet,
counting out six hundred dollars, placing them into the
already extended hand of Freeman.
Ford sees the distress and panic in Eliza; it visibly
touches him. He now tries to buy EMILY to console her.
How much for the little girl? You
have no need for her. One so
young will bring you no profit.
I will not sell the girl. There's
heaps 'n piles of money to be made
off her. She is a beauty. One of
the regular bloods. None of your
thick-lipped, bullet headed,
cotton picking niggers.
59 CONTINUED: (2) 59
Her child, man. For God's sake,
are you not sentimental in the
My sentimentality stretches the
length of a coin. Do you want the
lot, Mr. Ford, or do you pass on
I will take the ones Platt and
Eliza grips her children tight.
I will not go without my children.
You will not take them from me.
59 CONTINUED: (3) 59
As if to prove her wrong, Freeman puts a foot to Eliza
and harshly kicks her away from Emily.
Please, don't. No!
Freeman, to Cape:
Take her out of here.
Cape DROPS HIS FIDDLE, begins to pull Eliza away toward
the door of the room, but her screaming and pleading do
not abate. IT IS CLEARLY UNSETTLING TO THE OTHER BUYERS.
Keep her quiet.
Cape tries to muzzle her with his hand, but Eliza
continues to scream for her children as Emily does for
Play something! Get the fiddle
As ordered, Solomon takes up Cape's fiddle and begins to
Solomon plays harder and more loudly. Still, it is
barely enough to drown out Eliza's cries. Freeman gets
the other slaves to clap along with Solomon's playing.
Emily frees herself and runs back, crying but endeavoring
to be strong-
Don't cry, Mama. I will be a good
girl. Don't cry. I will keep my
head up and I will look smart. I
will always look smart.
Make merry, all of you! Goddamn
it, Cape! Keep her quiet or it's
your damned hide I will take it
Cape pulls a rag, stuffs it in Eliza's mouth. Clamping
both hands over her mouth, he hauls Eliza from the room
by the head. IT IS AN UGLY, UGLY SCENE.
60 EXT. FORD PLANTATION - LATER 60
Driven in a horse drawn wagon by Ford are Solomon and
Eliza. Eliza is sullen to say the least. With the loss
of her two children she has dropped into a depression she
will not be able to pull out of.
60 CONTINUED: 60
They arrive to the FORD PLANTATION. The main house of
the plantation - the GREAT HOUSE as they are commonly
called - is sizable. Two stories high with a piazza in
front. In the rear are also a log kitchen, poultry
house, corncribs and several slave cabins. The
plantation is described as "a green spot in the
With the arrival of Master Ford there is a flurry of
activity - the "excitement" of a new delivery. MR.
CHAPIN, a white overseer, instructs a slave named SAM.
Sam, call to the Mistress.
Mistress! Mistress, they arrivn'.
MISTRESS FORD EXITS the house - along with her attending
slave, RACHEL, who is a cook AS WELL AS SAM'S WIFE - and
travels to her husband, kisses him, then laughingly
Did you bring all those niggers?
Two of them? You got two?
Make me something to eat, dear.
The day has taken it from me.
Let me get a look at them...
This one's cryin'. Why is this
Separated from her children.
It couldn't be helped.
Poor, poor woman.
Mr. Chapin, tomorrow you will take
these two up to the mill and start
them workin'. For now make them
60 CONTINUED: (2) 60
adequate; fix them a meal, and
have them rest themselves.
(to the slaves:)
C'mon, now. C'mon. Don't dawdle.
Something to eat and some rest;
your children will soon enough be
EXT. FORD'S WORK AREA - DAY
John Tibeats, stands before the slaves. Chapin hovers to
My name is John Tibeats, William
Ford's chief carpenter. You will
refer to me as Master.
Tibeats nods in Chapin's direction:
Mister Chapin is the overseer on
this plantation. He is
responsible for all of Ford's
property. You too will refer to
him as Master.
This plantation covers many
hundreds of acres, and you will
traverse the Texas road between
the forest site and the sawmill in
double time. Any clever nigger on
that path that gets a little
lightfooted, I will remind him
that on one side men and
bloodhounds patrol the border and
on the other the bayou provides a
hard living, with alligators and
little to eat or drink that won't
kill you. No slave has escaped
here with his life. You're here
to work niggers, so let's
Tibeats begins to sing the song "Run Nigger, Run"
We cut to Solomon chopping logs and into the montage of
the slaves doing manual labor and arriving back to the
Lyrics for "Run Nigger, Run"
A61A CONTINUED: A61A
Oh run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away
Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away
Nigger run nigger flew
Nigger tore his shirt in two
Run run the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away
Nigger run, run so fast
Stoved his head in a hornets nest
Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away
Nigger run through the field
Black slick coal and barley heel
Run nigger run the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away
Some folks say a nigger won't steal
I caught three in my corn field
One has a bushel? And one has a peck
One had a rope and it was hung around his neck
Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away
Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away
Oh nigger run and nigger flew
Why in the devil can't a white man chew
Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away
Hey Mr. Pattyroller don't catch me
Catch that nigger behind that tree
Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you?
Run nigger run well you better get away
Nigger run, run so fast
Stoved his head in a hornets nest
Run nigger run well the pattyroller will get you
Run nigger run well you better get away
61 EXT. WOODS - DAY 61
-END OF MAY THROUGH EARLY JUNE, 1841-
We are in a wooded area. There is A GANG OF SLAVES
chopping trees into timber. It is hard, laborious work
made no more easy by the sweltering heat. Solomon is
among them as well as Sam.
EXT. WOODS - LATER
The slaves now load the timber onto a horse drawn wagon.
Again, hard work done under the ever present sun.
63 EXT. ROAD - LATER 63
As Sam drives the wagon, the other slaves trudge along
side by foot. We should get the sense the travel is long
64 EXT. FORD'S WORK AREA - LATER 64
It is a sizable work area on the edge of Indian Creek.
There is much work being done, the slaves primarily
employed in piling the timber and chopping it into
lumber. As before, there is little doubt about the
rigors of the job at hand.
Working as a carpenter at the work area is JOHN TIBEATS.
There are also various CUSTOMERS who move about placing
EXT. FORD PLANTATION - DAY
-EARLY TO MID JUNE, 1841-
It's Sunday morning. All of Ford's slaves are dressed
with their "finest" clothes - brightly colored and as
free as possible of defect. The slaves are gathered on
65 CONTINUED: 65
the lawn just beyond the piazza. Mistress Ford is
present as well. As the slaves listen, Ford reads to
them Scripture. His tone is of a man trying to preach by
way of compassion.
"But as touching the resurrection
of the dead, have ye not read that
which was spoken unto you by God,
saying, I am the God of Abraham,
and the God of Isaac, and the God
of Jacob. God is not the God of
the dead, but of the living. And
when the multitude heard this,
they were astonished at his
doctrine. Then one of them, which
was a lawyer, asked him a
question, tempting him, and
saying, Master, which is the
great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart, and with all thy soul, and
with all thy mind. This is the
first and great commandment. And
the second is like unto it, thou
shalt love thy neighbor as
thyself. On these two
commandments hang all the law and
Despite the lightness with which Ford speaks and the hope
in his words, ELIZA SITS OFF TO THE SIDE - SELF-SECLUDED
A BIT - WEEPING GENTLY.
We should be able to see in Mistress Ford's eyes that
Eliza's constant crying is unsettling.
67 OMIT 67
68 OMITTED 68
69 OMIT 69
70 EXT. FORD'S WORK AREA - DAY 70
-MID JUNE, 1841-
The slaves have broken for lunch. They snack on smoked
meat and drink water from gourds. As they lunch Solomon
reads from Sam's Bible to the other slaves.
But he that is greatest among you,
let him be as the younger; and he
that is chief, as he that doth
serve. For whether is greater, he
that sitteth at meat, or he that
serveth? Is not he that sitteth
at meat? But I am among you as he
A white customer - WINSLOW - irate at the sight and sound
of slaves reading Scripture, crosses over. He grabs the
From where did you thieve this?
Suh, the book is my property.
The White Customer has no interest in Sam's answer. With
flailing hands he STARTS BEATING ON SAM. Solomon tries
to stop him. That only makes the situation worse,
Solomon now the target of the man's ire.
Take your hands from me!
Ford comes running over.
What is the commotion?
Your niggers are either brazen or
rebellious. This one was readin'
Scripture, and this one claims it
to be his.
It is. A gift from his Mistress.
You condone this?
I encourage it. As a Christian I
can do no less.
70 CONTINUED: 70
You can do no worse, Ford. A
slave that reads is dangerous.
Winslow moves off. He yells back at Ford:
And the man who would allow a
slave to read is unfit to own
Handing the Bible back to Sam, very matter of factly:
Pay him no mind. The word of God
applies to all. In that you may
72 EXT. ROAD - DAY 72
Sam is at the reigns of the wagon carrying the timber to
Ford's WORK AREA. Slaves trudge alongside, same as it
ever was. Only...it's not quite the same. Sam brings
the wagon to a halt. He, and the slaves look up the road
ahead of them.
Standing in the middle of the road is a group of
CHICKASAWS INDIANS. They are in their "usual" dress of
buckskin breeches and calico hunting shirts of fantastic
colors, buttoned from belt to chin. They have with them
DOGS and HORSES. They carry with them the carcass of a
The two groups stare at each other for a long moment.
EXT. FIELD - DUSK/END OF DAY
The groups of slaves and Chickasaws are now intermingled.
They "break bread" - actually they work on the carcass of
the deer which is now roasting over a large fire. As
well the group share a smoke on a pipe.
One of the Chickasaws is playing a tune on an "INDIAN
FIDDLE." The Chickasaws perform a customary dance;
trotting after each other, and giving utterance to a
guttural, sing-song noise.
The slaves enjoy the respite from work, Solomon
particularly taken by the music...if not entirely
enthralled by it.
73 CONTINUED: 73
After a bit, Solomon rights himself and heads from the
74 EXT. RIVER BANK - CONTINUOUS 74
Solomon arrives to some tall grass at the edge of the
river. Lowering his trousers, SOLOMON SQUATS TO
DEFECATE. As he does, he stares out toward the flowing
waters of Indian Creek. After a few moments, as though a
thought far greater than relieving himself has come to
him, Solomon stands and replaces his pants.
Oddly, Solomon stares out at the water as though he were
a man possessed.
EXT. FORD'S WORK AREA - DAY
Just beyond the WORK AREA Solomon speaks with Ford as
Tibeats listens. Solomon is drawing in the dirt, making
rough diagrams for Ford as he explains himself.
The creek is plenty deep enough to
sail, even with a boat full of
load. The distance from the WORK
AREA to the point on the latter
bayou is several miles by water
fewer than land. It occurs to me
that the expense of the
transportation would be materially
If we use the waterway.
It's a scheme. Plenty of
engineers have schemed similarly.
The passes are too tight.
I reckon them at more than twelve
feet at their most narrow. Wide
enough for a tub to traverse. A
team of niggers can clear it out.
And you know what of transport and
75 CONTINUED: 75
I labored repairing the Champlain
canal, on the section over which
William Van Nortwick was
superintendent. With my earnings
I hired several efficient hands to
assist me, and I entered into
contracts for the transportation
of large rafts of timber from Lake
Champlain to Troy.
I'll admit to being impressed even
if you won't.
Collect a gang, see what good you
EXT. CREEK - DAY
-END OF JUNE, 1841-
WE HAVE A SERIES OF SCENES in which we see Solomon and a
TEAM OF BLACKS working on the creek: CHOPPING TREES
ALONG THE BANKS, widening out the shore... It's all just
a trial for now. The work is diligent, but it is basic
to this point. Still, under Solomon's direction, the
slaves go at it like they've got something to prove. And
rightly they do.
Solomon also works on a narrow raft of twelve cribs with
which he will transport the timber.
Once this is constructed, HE PERSONALLY "SAILS" THEM UP
THE CREEK WITH A TEST LOAD.
EXT. FORD'S WORK AREA - LATER
Ford and a group of slaves wait along the river banks
just beyond the WORK AREA. All are expectant in their
manner. A long moment passes with no sign of Solomon.
Then, from up river, we see Solomon's raft of lumber
winding its way. SLAVES CHEER, and Ford literally
applauds the effort. Tibeats looks pissed. He has just
been shown up after all.
EXT. FORD PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - DAY
As we come into the scene, Ford is presenting Solomon
with a fiddle. Not as grand as the one he previously
owned in New York, but a fine instrument none the less.
It is a gift of thanks for his hard work. Solomon's
gratitude is easily expressed.
78 CONTINUED: 78
My great thanks, Master Ford.
My thanks to you, and it is the
least of it. My hope is that it
brings us both much joy over the
Following the statement, Solomon's not sure how to react.
He remains grateful, but the thought of "over the years"
is just a reminder of the altered state in which he now
EXT. FORD PLANATION/SLAVE SHACK - EVENING
-END OF JULY, 1841-
The slaves eat. All tired from a days work they conduct
themselves in silence. All except for Eliza who,
SLIPPING INTO PERMANENT DEPRESSION, as always weeps. The
sound of her sobbing edging him up - particularly after
Master Ford's "over the years" observation. Solomon
Eliza. Eliza, stop!
Solomon goes to her, grabs Eliza. She does not stop. As
if to force the misery from her, Solomon SHAKES ELIZA
Stop it! Stop!
It's all I have to keeps my loss
You let yourself be overcome by
sorrow. You will drown in it.
Have you stopped crying for your
children? You make no sounds, but
will you ever let them go in your
...They are as my flesh...
79 CONTINUED: 79
Then who is distressed? Do I
upset the Mistress and the Master?
Do you care less for my loss than
their well being?
Master Ford is a decent man.
He is a slaver.
Under the circumstances--
Under the circumstances he is a
slaver! Christian only in his
proclamations. Separated me from
my precious babies for lack of a
few dollars. But you truckle at
You luxuriate in his favor.
I survive. I will not fall into
despair. Woeful and crushed;
melancholy is the yolk I see most.
I will offer up my talents to
Master Ford. I will keep myself
hearty until freedom is opportune.
Ford is your opportunity. Do you
think he does not know that you
are more than you suggest? But he
does nothing for you. Nothing.
You are no better than prized
livestock. Call for him. Call,
tell him of your previous
circumstances and see what it
Eliza uses Solomon's name quite pointedly as if to
underscore his true self. Solomon get her meaning. Yet
he says nothing. Again, pointedly:
So, you've settled into your role
as Platt, then?
My back is thick with scars from
79 CONTINUED: (2) 79
protesting my freedom. Do not
I accuse you of nothing. I cannot
accuse. I too have done so many,
many dishonorable things to
survive. And for all of them I
have ended up here... No better
than if I had stood up for myself.
Father, Lord and Savior forgive
me... Forgive me. Oh, Solomon,
let me weep for my children.
At the same time came the
disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who
is the greatest in the kingdom of
EXT. FORD PLANTATION - MORNING
It's Sunday. The slaves are again gathered in the rose
garden near the front of the house to hear the word of
the Lord as read by Master Ford.
And Jesus called a little child
unto him, and set him in the midst
of them, And said, Verily I say
unto you, Except ye be converted,
and become as little children, ye
shall not enter into the kingdom
The phrase seems to trigger Eliza's tears. She begins to
Mrs. Ford turns to Rachel in a hushed whisper-
I cannot have that kind of
Solomon, pretending not to have heard, slowly turns to
Eliza with worry.
Ford continues to preach over Eliza's keening.
But whoso shall offend one of
these little ones which believe in
me, it were better for him that a
millstone were hanged about his
neck, and that he were drowned in
the depth of the sea. Woe unto
80 CONTINUED: 80
the world because of offences!
For it must needs be that offences
come; but woe to that man by whom
the offence cometh!
81 EXT. FORD PLANTATION - DAY 81
Seasons have passed. It is winter now, and very grey out
along the bayou. Ford and Tibeats - who we have seen
working around the WORK AREA - stand with Solomon,
Tibeats giving Solomon an inspection. Ford carries much
Raise yer shirt.
Solomon does as instructed. Tibeats looks at Solomon's
back, at the scars from lashings he bears.
He's a good carpenter and quick-
I am familiar with his cleverness.
You won't find a nigger more
Ain't found a nigger yet I cain't
Tibeats heads off. Solomon, highly curious over the
Sir, have I done something wrong?
Not your concern, Platt. I say
with much...shame I have compiled
debts. I have long preached
austerity, but find myself
hypocritical in that regard.
You'll be in the ownership of Mr.
Tibeats. You are his now. Serve
him as you'd serve me.
And your faithfulness will not be
81 CONTINUED: 81
Pride and want have been my sin.
Loss of you is but one of my
EXT. FORD PLANATION - DAY
-END OF JANUARY, 1842- [OVER ONE DAY]
We see Solomon working as a carpenter, helping to erect a
Weaving House that stands off to the side of the
plantation's Great House.
At the moment Solomon is nailing on siding. Tibeats
arrives and is immediately dissatisfied with the work.
Make them boards flush.
They are, sir.
They is no such thing.
Solomon runs his hands over the boards.
As smooth to the touch as a
Callin' me a liar, boy?
Only a matter of perspective, sir.
From where you stand you may see
differently. But the hands are
not mistaken. I ask only that you
employ all your senses before
What's Tibeats to do when faced with fact? All he can do
is spew invectives.
You are a brute. You are a dog,
and no better for followin'
I'll do as ordered, sir.
82 CONTINUED: 82
Then you'll be up at daybreak.
You will procure a keg of nails
from Chapin and commence puttin'
Tibeats wheels away. Solomon goes back to his work.
After a few moments Solomon notices a bit of commotion in
the drive of the great house. It involves an
inconsolable Eliza who is being herded by Sam onto a cart
DRIVEN BY A WHITE MAN. Mistress Ford and Rachel watch.
Solomon can only watch as the last connection to his days
as a free man is driven away to a location unknown.
EXT. WEAVING HOUSE - MORNING
It is day break. As ordered, Solomon is up and working.
Chapin is rolling a keg of nails off a handcart for
If Tibeats prefers a different
size, I will endeavor to furnish
them, but you may use those until
EXT. WEAVING HOUSE - LATER
As the day gets on to mid-morning, the sun already baking
in the sky, Tibeats makes his way over to Solomon. Even
before arriving to Solomon his mien is one of
belligerence; out of sorts and something less than sober.
I thought I told yah ta commence
ta puttin' on clapboards this
84 CONTINUED: 84
Yes, master. I am about it. I
have begun on the other side of
Tibeats walks around to look over Solomon's work. He is
picayune, as if purposefully looking for fault.
Didn't I tell yah last night to
get a keg of nails of Chapin?
And so I did; and Chapin said he
would get another size for you, if
you wanted them when he came back
from the field.
Tibeats walks to the keg and kicks it. Moving toward
Solomon "with a great passion:"
Goddamn yah! I thought yah knowed
Solomon, perhaps inspired by his moment with Eliza, is in
no mood for Tibeats.
I did as instructed. If there's
something wrong, then its wrong
with your instructions.
Yah black bastard! Yah goddman
In an inconsolable rage, Tibeats runs off to the piazza
to fetch a whip.
Solomon looks around. He is alone other than Rachel and
Mistress Ford who, shocked by that which she witnesses,
runs out to the field to fetch Chapin. Solomon's
instinct is to run, but he stands his ground as Tibeats
marches back whip in hand.
Strip yer clothes!
Solomon does no such thing.
I will not.
With "concentrated vengeance," Tibeats springs for
Solomon, seizing him by the throat with one hand and
84 CONTINUED: (2) 84
raising the whip with the other. Before he can strike
the blow, however, Solomon catches Tibeats by the collar
of his coat and pulls him in close. Reaching down,
Solomon grabs Tibeats by the ankle and pushes him back
with the other hand. Tibeats tumbles to the ground. A
violent struggle takes place as Solomon puts a foot to
Tibeats throat, and then in a frenzy of madness snatches
the whip from Tibeats and begins to strike him with the
handle again and again and again.
Yew will not live ta see another
day, nigger! This is yer last, I
Solomon ignores the threats, continues to beat Tibeats.
Blow after blow falling fast and heavy on Tibeats's
wriggling form. The stiff stock of the whip wraps around
Tibeats's cringing body until Solomon's arm aches.
Tibeats's cries of vengeance turn to yelps for help and
then pleas for mercy:
Murder! It's murder! Lord, God,
help me. God be merciful!
And then suddenly, Tibeats shrieks-
Papa I'm sorry!
Chapin comes RIDING IN FROM THE FIELD fast and hard.
Solomon strikes Tibeats a blow or two more, then delivers
a well-directed kick that sends Tibeats rolling over the
What is the matter?
Tibeats struggles up and tries to present an air of
dignity and control while he keeps a demonic eye on
Master Tibeats wants to whip me
for using the nails you gave me.
What's the matter with the nails?
With a mix of shame, anger and embarrassment, Tibeats
says, as if being exposed-
They're...they're too large.
I am overseer here. I told Platt
to use them, and
84 CONTINUED: (3) 84
I shall furnish such nails as I
please. Do you understand that,
Tibeats answer is in the grinding of his teeth and the
shaking of his fist.
This ain't done by half. I will
have flesh, and I will have all of
Tibeats moves off toward, and then INTO THE HOUSE.
Chapin follows. A long moment, Solomon stands alone. He
looks around, not sure what to do; to stay or to flee.
Anxiety mounts on his features.
A moment more, and Tibeats EXITS the house. He saddles
his horse and rides off to beat the devil. Or, worse, to
Chapin comes running back out of the house. He is
visibly excited, and when he speaks he is quite earnest.
Though he tries to project reasoned emotions he gives off
an air of impending trouble.
Do not stir. Do not attempt to
leave the plantation on any
account whatever. But if you run
there is no protecting you.
If you run, Platt, there is no
protecting you. Rachel...!
Chapin runs off to join Rachel. The two converse at a
distance from Solomon, then they head off for the log
Solomon is now very much alone, and he waits for what is
to come. AND WE WAIT WITH HIM. And we wait, and we
continue to wait... Moment by moment, the dread of the
Solomon's eyes begin to well. He has beaten a white man,
and he knows that death awaits him.
A SLIGHT PRAYER TO THE HEAVENS BEGINS TO FORM IN HIS
THROAT, but he is too choked up to fully speak it.
84 CONTINUED: (4) 84
Chapin has now returned to the piazza. He stands and
watches, but does not move to Solomon.
Solomon waits, and waits...
WE HEAR THE SOUND OF DISTANT HOOFS which grow louder and
louder in the manner of rolling thunder. It's Tibeats.
He returns with two accomplices; RAMSAY and COOK. They
carry with them large whips and a coil of rope.
Tha's the one. Tha's him.
Dismounting, they move with menace that is tinged with
perverse pleasure and wordless malevolence. Solomon
tries to fight back, but he is strong armed and tied by
TIBEATS - his wrists, and then ankles bound in the same
manner. In the meantime the other two have slipped a
cord within Solomon's elbows, running it across his back
and tying it firmly. Solomon is then dragged toward a
peach tree. A lynching is in store. The naked horror of
it intensely palpable.
Solomon looks toward the piazza, but Chapin is now gone.
Tears of fear flow down Solomon's cheeks. He is on the
verge of panic; a man heading toward his own execution,
he begins to struggle and fight.
A rope goes around Solomon's neck, then is tossed over
the branch of the tree. The trio begin to hoist Solomon.
He gasps and gags as spittle flies from his mouth and the
life is choked from him.
With suddenness, Chapin comes from the house brandishing
a pistol in each hand - Colt Paterson .36 caliber
"Holster" pistols with 9" barrels. Chapin moves with
determination toward the lynch mob. He is sharp and
matter of fact. With the guns in hand, he really doesn't
need to be much more demonstrative.
Gentlemen... Whoever moves that
nigger another foot from where he
stands is a dead man. I am
overseer of this plantation seven
years, and in the absence of
William Ford, my duty is to
protect his interests. Ford holds
a mortgage on Platt of four
hundred dollars. If you hang him,
he loses his debt. Until that is
canceled you have no claim to his
Directing his attention to Ramsay and Cook:
84 CONTINUED: (5) 84
As for you two, if you have any
regard for your own safety...I
Ramsay and Cook don't need to be told twice. The pistols
Chapin's gripping make the situation real clear. Without
further word, they mount their horses and ride away.
Tibeats remains, and his anger with him.
Yah got no cause. Platt is mine,
and mine ta do with as I please.
Yah touch my property, I will 'ave
yah strung up as well.
Tibeats mounts up and departs. There is a surreal moment
as Chapin's not sure what to do about Solomon. He
chooses to do nothing. Solomon is left dangling by the
neck from the tree as Chapin calls to Sam in the
Sam! Get the mule. You must ride
to Master Ford. Tell him to come
here at once without a single
moment's delay. Tell him they are
trying to murder Platt. Hurry,
boy. Bring him back if you must
kill the mule to do so!
Sam mounts up and rides off, the mule demonstrating much
EXT. FORD PLANATION - LATER
HOURS HAVE PASSED. The sun is now at its apex. The sight
and smell of the red rose bush is more than vivid as
Solomon remains tied and dangling exactly where he was
left. The scene is both tranquil and horrific. Life on
the plantation continues. The OTHER SLAVES work in the
field. CHILDREN make their way playfully in the yard.
It should all underscore the fact that a black, hanging
even partially from a tree, is nothing unusual in this
time and space.
85 CONTINUED: 85
Chapin walks back and forth with the pistols in his
hands. Clearly he fears Tibeats returning with more and
better assistance. And yet, he does nothing to alleviate
Solomon's suffering. He heeds Tibeats words, and as
though caught up in the middle of nothing more than a
property dispute, he offers no further aid.
Solomon's head lolls to one side. He looks toward the
sun. The bright light flares off the leaves and branches
of the tree from which Solomon hangs. The glare in
Solomon's eyes offering him more pain than solace, but he
cannot help but look upward. As he does, his eyes
flutter between life and lifelessness...
87 EXT. FORD PLANATION - LATER 87
Solomon continues to hang. By now he is drenched in
sweat, and nearly delirious with dehydration. His lips
dry and parched. He may not die from hanging, but he may
very well expire before the day is over.
Eventually Rachel comes over - timidly, and as though she
were acting contrary to orders - and offers a drink of
water from a tin cup, pouring it in Solomon's mouth for
him. She then takes a small hand towel and dabs at the
water which clings to his lips. Rachel then retreats,
and leaves Solomon to hang.
EXT. FORD PLANATION - EVENING
The sun is just now arching for the horizon. Solomon
remains, as though his torture will not end. Ford,
trailed by Sam, finally comes riding up. He dismounts,
and moves swiftly over to Solomon. With great heartache:
Platt... My poor Platt.
Ford produces a blade and cuts Solomon loose. Solomon
attempts to carry himself, but he cannot. He falls to
the ground and passes out.
INT. FORD PLANATION/GREAT HOUSE - NIGHT
As we come into the scene, Solomon lays on a blanket on
the floor. Eventually, his eyes flutter, then open. He
is in the foyer of the Ford house. As he gets his
bearings, he looks around the interior. THE SPACE IS
HANDSOME, AND WELL DECORATED. It is sharp contrast to
the bleak surroundings, shacks and dungeons Solomon has
largely been accustom to during his time of slavery. It
will be the "first and last time such a sumptuous resting
place was granted" during his twelve years of bondage.
89 CONTINUED: 89
Solomon doesn't have much chance to luxuriate in his
surroundings. He hears a DOG BARKING just outside, and
is unnerved. Has Tibeats returned to finish what he
From a study, Master Ford appears with a gun in hand. He
goes to the door, opens it and looks outside. He can see
nothing. Satisfied, Ford crosses back over to Solomon.
He is frank with Solomon regarding the situation.
I believe Tibeats is skulkin'
about the premises somewhere. He
wants you dead, and he will
attempt to have you so. It's no
longer safe for you here. And I
don't believe you will remain
passive if Tibeats attacks. I
have transferred my debt to Edwin
Epps. He will take charge of you.
Master Ford, you must know; I am
not a slave.
I cannot hear that.
Before I came to you I was a
I am trying to save your life!
And...I have a debt to be mindful
of. That, now, is to Edwin Epps.
He is a hard man. Prides himself
on being a "nigger breaker." But
truthfully I could find no others
who would have you. You've made a
reputation of yourself. Whatever
your circumstances, you are an
exceptional nigger, Platt. I fear
no good will come of it.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/BACK PORCH - DAY
-END OF JANUARY, 1842-
From the back porch, we come into the scene on EDWIN
EPPS; a repulsive and coarse man. His language gives
speedy and unequivocal evidence that he has never enjoyed
the advantages of an education.
90 CONTINUED: 90
Epps reads the Bible to his slaves, eight of them
altogether. ABRAM; a tall, older slave of about sixty
years. WILEY, who is forty eight. PHEBE, who is married
to Wiley. BOB and HENRY who are Phebe's children, EDWARD
and PATSEY. Patsey is young, just 23 years old...though
in the era, 23 not as young as in the present day. She
is the offspring of a "Guinea nigger," brought over to
Cuba in a slave ship. She nearly brims with unconversant
MISTRESS EPPS, Epps's wife, is also present. She sits
with, holds quite lovingly, some SLAVE CHILDREN. WITH
THEM SHE IS VERY "MOTHERLY." We also see Epps's overseer
TREACH. Treach constantly sports a LOADED PISTOL.
Though Epps reads the word of the Lord, he lacks the tone
of compassion with which Ford read.
"And that servant which knew his
Lord's will...WHICH KNEW HIS
LORD'S WILL and prepared not
himself...PREPARED NOT HIMSELF,
neither did according to his will,
shall be beaten with many
stripes..." D'ye hear that?
"Stripes." That nigger that don't
take care, that don't obey his
lord - that's his master - d'ye
see? - that 'ere nigger shall be
beaten with many stripes. Now,
"many" signifies a great many.
Forty, a hundred, a hundred and
fifty lashes... That's Scripter!
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY
WE START THE SCENE WITH A PAIR OF BLACK HANDS
picking cotton ferociously. As we move out, we identify
PATSEY, a 23 year old striking black woman. The camera
moves out again to a wider shot. This reveals several
lines of slaves picking cotton, with Patsey way out in
We cut to another pair of black hands. This time,
revealing SOLOMON, clumsy and unskilled hands, picking
cotton. A lash bears down on him.
It is August, "cotton picking" season.
We are looking out over a cotton field in full bloom. It
presents a visual purity, like an immaculate expanse of
light, new-fallen snow. The cotton grows from five to
seven feet high, each stalk having a great many branches
91 CONTINUED: 91
shooting out in all directions and lapping each other
above the water furrow.
There is a slave to each side of the row. They have a
sack around their necks that hangs to the ground, the
mouth of the sack about breast high. Baskets are placed
at the end of the furrows. Slaves dump their sacks of
cotton in the baskets, then pick until their sacks are
Pick that cotton. Move along now.
THE SOUNDTRACK TO THE SCENE IS NOTHING MORE THAN THE
RUSTLE OF LABOR, THE MALE CICADAS BUGS "TYMBALS" IN THE
HEAT and a SPIRITUAL SUNG BY THE SLAVES.
Despite the heat, there is no stopping for water. The
slaves are "driven" by Edward, who is himself "driven" by
C'mon. Drive dem niggers.
Edward moves among the slaves, applying the whip to them
Pick dat cotton. Move along now,
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GIN HOUSE - EVENING
The day's work is done. The slaves are now assembled in
the gin house with their baskets of cotton which are
being weighed by Treach. There is anxiety among the
slave, the reason for which soon becomes apparent.
Two hundred forty pounds for Bob.
What yah got for James?
Two hundred ninety five pounds.
Tha's real good, boy. Tha's real
One hundred eighty two pounds for
Epps does not look happy. Treach says again:
92 CONTINUED: 92
One hundred eighty two.
How much can even an average
nigger pick a day?
Two hundred pounds.
This nigger ain't even average.
Epps pulls Solomon aside.
Five hundred twelve pounds for
Five hundred twelve. Yah men folk
got no shame lettin' Patsey out
pick yah? The day ain't yet come
she swung lower than five hundred
pounds. Queen of the fields, she
Two hundred six pou--
I ain't done, Treach. Ain't I
owed a minute to luxuriate on the
work Patsey done?
Damned Queen. Born and bred to
the field. A nigger among
niggers, and God give 'er to me.
A lesson in the rewards of
righteous livin'. All be
observant ta that. All!
Now, Treach. Now speak.
One hundred thirty eight pounds
Hit one forty five yesterday.
Pull her out.
Two hundred six pounds for Wiley.
92 CONTINUED: (2) 92
How much he pick yesterday?
Two hundred twenty nine pounds.
Wiley is pulled from the line, huddled with Solomon.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/YARD - EVENING
In the distance, a flogging is going on. Solomon, Phebe,
and Wiley are stripped, placed in a stockade and now
being given a perfunctory whipping delivered by ANOTHER
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION - EVENING
Evening, but the day is not yet done. Slaves attend
their various evening chores; feeding livestock, doing
laundry, cooking food. There is no respite from a
INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
A fire is kindled in the cabin. The slaves finally fix
their own dinner of corn meal. Corn is ground in a small
hand mill. The corn meal is mixed with a little water,
placed in the fire and baked. When it is "done brown"
the ashes are scraped off. Bacon is fried. As the
slaves eat, Abram goes on in great length and with much
emotion about General Jackson.
Hold my words: General Jackson
will forever be immortalized. His
bravery will be handed down to the
last posterity. If ever there be
a stain upon "raw militia," he
done wiped away on the eight of
January. I say da result a that
day's battle is of 'mo importance
to our grand nation than any
occurrence 'fo or since. Great
man. Great man in deed. We all
need pray to Heavenly Father da
General reign over us always.
INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
The slaves are sleeping. There is a loud commotion.
Epps enters, drunkenly, forcing the slaves awake.
96 CONTINUED: 96
Get up! Get up, we dance tonight!
We will not waste the evenin' with
yer laziness. Get up.
INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/MAIN HOUSE - NIGHT
Despite the lateness of the hour, the slaves are up and
now fully dressed. They take up position in the middle
of the floor. They wait, poised like actors. Solomon
strikes up a tune; Henry joins in with a pan flute and
the slaves dance. They do so very wearily. The whole of
it certainly more torture than pleasure.
Epps, whip in hand:
Where's yah merriment? Move yer
As the slaves twirl about Epps keeps an attentive eye on
Patsey. It should be quite clear that his primary
motivation for holding dances is so that he may view
Patsey twirl about the floor.
This fact is not lost on Mistress Epps. A few moments of
Epps's lust on display is all that the Mistress can bear.
Jealousy mounting, she snatches up a CARAFE. With all
her might she throws it at Patsey. It hits Patsey square
in the face. TOO THICK TO SHATTER, IT LEAVES HER BLOODY
AND WRITHING ON THE FLOOR. The dancing, the music stop.
The slaves, however, react as though it is not the first
time they've seen as much from the Mistress.
Mistress Epps, screaming like a hellion:
C'mon, now. Wha's this?
You will sell the negress!
You're talkin' foolish. Sell
little Pats? She pick with more
vigor than any other nigger!
Choose another ta go.
No other. Sell her!
I will not!
97 CONTINUED: 97
You will remove that black bitch
from this property, 'er I'll take
myself back to Cheneyville.
Back to that hog's trough where I
found you? Oh, the idleness of
that yarn washes over me. Do not
set yourself up against Patsey, my
dear. That's a wager on which you
will not profit. Calm yerself.
And settle for my affection,
'cause my affection you got. Or,
go. 'Cause I will rid myself of
yah well before I do away with
Mistress Epps stands irate, lost in fury and unable to
even think of what to do. Eventually, optionless, she
For a few beats there is only the sound of Patsey
That damned woman! I won't have
my mood spoiled. I will not.
Epps sends the whip in Solomon's direction. Solomon
responds by playing.
Treach literally drags the prone Patsey from the floor,
blood still spilling from her face. The slaves, as
ordered, return to dancing.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION - MORNING
The sun has only just risen above the horizon. FROM THE
GREAT HOUSE THE HORN IS BLOWN signaling the start of
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY
Slaves are in the field picking cotton. They accompany
their work with a SPIRITUAL.
100 EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - LATER 100
As the slaves make their way in from the field, the
Mistress calls to Solomon. SHE HAS A PIECE OF PAPER IN
100 CONTINUED: 100
Can you find your way to
I can, ma'am.
Handing Solomon a sheet of paper.
This is a list of goods and
sundries. You will take it to be
filled and return immediately.
Tell Bartholomew to add it to our
I will, Mistress.
Solomon looks at the list. In a careless moment, Solomon
reads quietly from it. He catches himself, but not
before the Mistress notes his action. With high
Where yah from, Platt?
I have told you.
Tell me again.
Who were yah Master?
Master name of Freeman.
Was he a learned man?
I suppose so.
He learn yah ta read?
100 CONTINUED: (2) 100
A word here or there, but I have
no understanding of the written
Don't trouble yer self with it.
Same as the rest, Master bought
yah to work. Tha's all. And any
more'll earn yah a hun'red lashes.
Having delivered her cool advice, Mistress heads back
into the house.
EXT. ROAD - DAY
Solomon walks along a well-worn path, shopping bag draped
over one shoulder. We see his feet. As the walk slowly
gathers pace, Solomon suddenly turns left into dense
foliage. His tread is now a full blown sprint, trees
flash past as Solomon attacks his way through the woods.
The sound of branches cracking underneath. His feet,
heartbeat and breath almost deafening. He is desperate.
The violence of his advance abruptly stops, there is
silence. We see in a clearance a posse of patrollers,
preparing for a lynching of two young men. Solomon's
eyes meet theirs. The two men look back at Solomon with
a look of fear as one of the patrollers checks the noose
around their neck. Suddenly the bloodhounds start
barking and the patrollers turn in the direction of
Solomon. Solomon's whole body shakes with anticipation.
Boy, where are you going?
(almost tripping over
To the store, Sir, to
Bartholomew's. I was sent there
by Mistress Epps.
The patroller reaches out for Solomon's free pass around
his neck, yanking him forward. He looks at it.
Get there and get there quick.
The patroller kicks Solomon hard, sending him on his way.
Solomon walks on, looking one more time at the two young
men; again there is a moment of connection.
Solomon turns. The two men are hoisted up, kicking and
spitting, behind his shoulder.
Solomon finds himself back on the trail walking towards
Bartholomew's, his face now full of shock and
A101 CONTINUED: A101
trepidation. He walks, fighting to calm himself down.
We move behind him as he continues his journey, a lonely
101 INT. BARTHOLOMEW'S - LATER 101
A general store in the township of Holmesville. Solomon
stands at the counter as BARTHOLOMEW fills Mistress
Epps's order. Among the items set before Solomon is a
QUANTITY OF FOOLSCAP.
The items are collected for Solomon and placed in a sack.
Solomon giving little thought to them other than getting
them back to the mistress.
As he turns, he glimpses the regalia of slave restraints,
of all different guises; chains, muzzles for sale.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - LATER
Solomon returns and delivers the items to the Mistress.
No, ma'am. No trouble.
OMIT - MOVED TO A105
104 EXT. SHAW'S HOUSE - DAY 104
Sitting on the Grand house's Piazza, Patsey is having tea
with MISTRESS HARRIET SHAW, WHO IS A BLACK WOMAN. Though
once a slave, she is now comparatively refined though not
wholly so. The table where they sit is adorned with
white linens, and they are attended by a HOUSE NIGGER.
It makes for a tranquil surreal scene.
MASTER SHAW, A WHITE MAN, IS ON THE LAWN GROOMING A
A105 EXT. ROAD - DAY A105
Solomon is running flat out along the road. Running as
though his life depended on getting to his destination in
beyond a timely manner.
B105 EXT. SHAW'S HOUSE - DAY B105
Still running, slick with sweat, Solomon comes upon the
As Solomon arrives:
Platt Epps, good Sunday morning.
Good morning, Master Shaw. I've
been sent by Master to retrieve
Patsey. May I approach?
Solomon makes his way over to the piazza.
Excuse me, Mistress Shaw.
My apologies. Patsey, Master
wishes you to return.
Sabbath day. I's free ta roam.
Understood. But the Master sent
me running to fetch you, and said
no time should be wasted.
Thank you, Mistress, but I don't
Would you knowed Massa Epps's
consternation ta be any lessened
wit your timely return? Sit. Sit
and drink the tea that offered.
B105 CONTINUED: B105
Solomon knows better, but he sits and the Mistress has
tea poured for him.
MISTRESS SHAW (CONT'D)
What'n was Epps's concern?
...I'd rather not say...
L'il gossip on the Sabbath be
fine. All things in moderation.
Solomon is not sure what to say. He struggles to be as
diplomatic as possible.
As you are aware, Master Epps can
be a man of a hard countenance.
There are times when it is
impossible to account for his
logic. You know he has ill
feelings toward your husband.
Master Epps has somehow come to
believe, as incorrectly as it may
be, that Master Shaw is... That
he is something of a lothario and
an unprincipled man. A misguided
belief born out of their mutual
competition as planters, no doubt.
No doubt...if not born outta truth
The Mistress waves to Shaw. Shaw, unsuspecting of the
conversation, waves back.
I'm certain Patsey's well being is
Master Epps's only concern.
Nothin' Epps desire come outta
I meant no disrespect.
He ain't heard you.
B105 CONTINUED: (2) B105
I meant no disrespect to you,
Ha! You worry for me? Got no
cause to worry for my
sensibilities. I ain't felt the
end of a lash in 'mo years than I
cain recall. Ain't worked a
field, neither. Where one time I
served, now I got others servin'
me. The cost to my current
existence be Massa Shaw
broadcasting his affections, 'n me
enjoyin' his pantomime of
fidelity. If that what keep me
from the cotton pickin' niggers,
that what it be. A small and
reasonable price to be paid 'fo
Looking toward Patsey, speaking with great empathy:
MISTRESS SHAW (CONT'D)
I knowed what it like to be the
object of Massa's predilections
and peculiarities. And I knowed
they can get expressed with
kindness or wit violence. A lusty
visit in the night, or a
visitation from the whip. And wit
my experience, if'n I can give
comfort, then comfort I give. And
you take comfort, Patsey; the Good
Lord will manage Epps. In His own
time the Good Lord will manage dem
all. Yes, Lordy, there's a day
comin' that will burn as an oven.
It comin' as sure as the Lord is
just. When His will be done...the
curse on the Pharos is a poor
example of all that wait 'fo the
Mistress Shaw turns her head to the side, catching a
slave's attention. As she does so, the slave, a YOUNG
WOMAN, commences to pour tea.
As if to punctuate her thought, the Mistress takes a sip
of her tea.
EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION - LATER
Solomon and Patsey are returning from Shaw's. Waiting on
the porch of the Great House, a drunk Epps beckons for
Patsey, his lewd intentions obvious.
105 CONTINUED: 105
Do not look in his direction.
Epps does not care to be ignored. He lifts himself and
moves toward the pair in a rage.
Solomon moves between Epps and Patsey, cutting Epps off
as Patsey continues on. Playing up his "ignorance" of
Found her, Master, and brought her
back just as instructed.
What'd you jus now tell her?
What'd you say to Pats?
No words were spoken. None of
Lie! Damned liar! Saw you
talkin' with 'er. Tell me!
I cannot speak of what did not
Epps grabs Solomon.
I'll cut your black throat.
Solomon pulls away from Epps, RIPPING HIS SHIRT IN THE
PROCESS. Epps gives chase. Solomon begins to run around
the large pig sty, easily keeping his distance. Epps,
however is undeterred. He moves after Solomon as
speedily as he can, which isn't very speedily at all.
And quickly he tires. Epps is forced to bend over and
suck air. Solomon maintains his distance, barely
breathing hard. His breath returned to him, Epps starts
up the chase again. Solomon runs on out of reach.
Shortly, Epps again stops, gets his breath... And now in
what should be quite comical, Epps again runs after
Solomon. Again, Epps's vigor leaves him before he can
even get close to the slave.
Dropping down to the dirt, in a show of regret and piety:
105 CONTINUED: (2) 105
Platt... Platt, liquor filled me.
I admit that it did, and I done
over reacted. It's the Lord's
day. Ain't nothin' Christian in
us carryin' on like this. Help me
ta my feet, and let us both pray
to the Lord for forgiveness.
Epps extends a hand to Solomon. Cautiously, Solomon
moves close, but not too close. As Solomon draws within
striking distance, Epps lunges for him. He chases
Solomon on until he is again out of breath and once more
drops down. And again offering a treaty:
I'm all done in, Platt. I have
met my limitations, and I ain't
equal to 'em. I concede to yah,
but in the name of valor, help yer
master to his feet.
Solomon cautiously moves closer to help. Again he is
attacked by Epps - this time by knife. Sort of. Epps is
too drunk and tired to fully open the folding blade - and
chased far around the field by Epps. ALL OF THE
PRECEDING SHOULD BE MORE FUNNY THAN SHOCKING. A CHANGE
OF PACE FROM THE OTHERWISE NECESSARY BLEAKNESS OF SLAVE
Mistress Epps comes running from the house to the pair.
What? Wha's the fuss?
A misunderstanding is all. It
began when I was sent to retrieve
Patsey from where she'd taken
sabbatical at Master Shaw's. Upon
returning, Master Epps believed
Patsey and me to be in
conversation when we were not. I
tried to explain, but it lead to
What is it? Ya cain't remain the
Sabbath without her under your
eye? Ya are a no-account bastard.
Hold a moment...
A filthy, godless heathen. My bed
is too holy for yah ta share.
105 CONTINUED: (3) 105
Wha's...wha's he been tellin' yah?
Of yer misbegotten ways.
And he would know what of
anythin'? I ain't even spoken
with him today. Platt, yah lyin'
nigger, have I? Have I?
Discretion being the better part and all, Solomon remains
There; there's all the truth he
got. Damned nigger. Damn yah.
Epps pushes his way past the Mistress.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY
With the sun yet again high in the sky the slaves are
working the field picking cotton. As before THEY SING A
SPIRITUAL, the only thing that distracts them from the
tedium at hand.
But there is no distracting from the heat. We see Henry
begin to falter before it... And eventually collapse
right in the dirt. Though the other slaves take note,
none move to help him. None dare.
From Treach rather matter of factly:
Get him water.
Edward runs to fetch a gourd. He carries it to Henry,
DUMPS THE WATER ON HIM, BUT DOES NOT ACTUALLY GIVE HENRY
ANYTHING TO DRINK.
Roused, Henry rights himself.
Go'won. Git up.
Unsteadily, Henry lifts himself and goes back to picking
cotton. He joins in again with the spiritual, as if the
song is all that can keep him going.
INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACKS - NIGHT
107 CONTINUED: 107
The slaves are asleep. Epps arrives, again without
knocking, with his whip in hand. The slaves stir. Uncle
We dance tonight, massa?
Epps remains quietly focused on Patsey. And it's clear
from her apprehensive expression just what it is he's
come looking for. This time there is no escaping it. As
if to acknowledge the badness to come, Phebe lightly
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SMOKE HOUSE - NIGHT
On top of a wood pile, in the back of the smoke house -
Epps shoves Patsey. He stops, stands as if gathering his
manhood, then he's all over Patsey. He is rough and
clumsy. It looks like something between an awkward rape
and a virgin attempting his first sexual encounter.
Patsey does not respond in any way other than to
continually turn her head from Epps, but otherwise remain
as still as possible. If there is such a thing, she is
vicious with her passive aggressiveness.
Epps's frustration mounts until - as the Mistress Shaw
had cautioned - he crosses the line from passion to
violence. He begins slapping Patsey to get a response
from her. When that fails, he punches her which only
leads to him taking up his whip and lashing Patsey
MERCILESSLY. Still, she gives him nothing. Beaten,
Patsey sits in the dirt among the cotton, Epps deep
breathing above her. The desire for sex now having left
Epps heads from the field. Patsey is left where she is.
INT. BARTHOLOMEW'S - DAY
As before, Solomon waits as Bartholomew fills Mistress
Epps order. Among the items set before Solomon is
another quantity of foolscap.
EXT. ROAD - DAY
Solomon is making his way back to the Epps plantation.
He carries with him a sack filled with the goods from the
store. As he walks, SOLOMON LOOKS AROUND CASUALLY. When
he is certain he is alone, he sets down the sack, opens
it and appropriates A SINGLE SHEET OF THE PAPER which he
folds and places in his pocket. That done, he cinches up
the sack and continues on his way.
111 OMIT 111
112 INT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - DAY 112
Solomon takes the slip of paper and hides it within his
fiddle. Perhaps the safest place he can think of. He
acts as though he's hiding away found gold. In reality
it's more than that. For Solomon the paper is a first
step toward freedom.
INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/MAIN HOUSE - NIGHT
It's another night of Epps's forced revelry. Coming in
quick from the previous scene, we go from Solomon holding
his fiddle, to playing it as the slaves are again made to
Mistress Epps brings out a tray of freshly baked
pastries. She sets them down on a table.
A moment from the dancing. Come
sample what I baked for y'all.
The slaves, thankful for the rest as much as the food,
file toward the tray reciting a chorus of "Thank you,
Mistress." As Patsey moves toward the pastries:
MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
There'll be none for you, Patsey.
Patsey merely turns away. Her non responsiveness,
however, serves only to incite the Mistress. Screaming:
MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
Yah see that? Did yah see the
look of insolence she give me?
Seen nothin' but her turn away.
Are you blind or ignorant? It was
hot, hateful scorn. It filled
that black face. Yah tell me yah
did'n see it, then yah choose not
to look, or yah sayin' I lie.
Whatever it was, it passed.
Is that how yah are with the
niggers? Let every ill thought
fester inside 'em. Look at 'em.
113 CONTINUED: 113
MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
They foul with it; foul with their
hate. You let it be, it'll come
back to us in the dark a night.
Yah want that? Yah want them
black animals to leave us gut like
pigs in our own sleep?
Epps isn't sure how to respond to the inchoate berating.
It's an invitation for the Mistress to continue.
MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
You are manless. A damned eunuch
if ever there was. And if yah
won't stand for me, I'd pray you'd
at least be a credit to yer own
kind and beat every foul thought
Epps does nothing. The Mistress lets her anger loose.
She moves quickly to Patsey, DRIVES HER NAILS INTO THE
PATSEY'S FACE AND DRAWS THEM DOWN ACROSS HER FEATURES.
FIVE DEEP AND BLOODY GASHES ARE LEFT IN PATSEY'S SKIN,
the moment marked with appropriate screams. Patsey
collapses on the floor, covering her bleeding face.
MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
Beat it from 'em!
Thoroughly cuckolded by the Mistress's actions, Epps
takes his whip and pulls Patsey out of the house. His
intentions are plain.
All the slaves remain silent. The Mistress, however,
displaying high satisfaction, entreats the others:
MISTRESS EPPS (CONT'D)
Eat. Fill yourselves. ...And
then we dance.
The slaves eat, but without a hint of levity.
INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
We come up on the slaves who lay sleeping. All except
for Patsey. She rises from her bedding, goes to a corner
of the cabin and removes something from a secretive
location. She then moves over to Platt.
Platt... Platt, you awake?
I have a request; an act of
114 CONTINUED: 114
Patsey displays what she took from hiding. It is a
LADY'S FINGER RING.
I secreted it from the Mistress.
It yours, Platt.
For what cause?
All I ask: end my life. Take my
body to the margin of the swamp--
Solomon looks at Patsey as though she were insane.
Take me by the throat. Hold me
low in the water until I's still
'n without life. Bury me in a
lonely place of dyin'.
No! I will do no such thing.
The...the gory detail with which
I thought on it long and hard.
It is melancholia, nothing more.
How does such despair even come to
How can you not know? I got no
comfort in this life. If I cain't
buy mercy from yah, I'll beg it.
There are others. Beg them.
I'm begging you!
Why? Why would you consign me to
damnation with such an un-Godly
114 CONTINUED: (2) 114
There is God here! God is
merciful, and He forgive merciful
acts. Won't be no hell for you.
Do it. Do what I ain't got the
strength ta do myself.
Solomon says nothing. Clearly he's not about to do the
deed. With nothing else to do, knowing she is damned
with every breath she draws, Patsey crawls back to her
spot on the floor and lays herself down.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY
Hard times on the planation. Where previously the field
in bloom was a carpet of white, it is now patchy and
The slaves move through the field picking not cotton, but
rather COTTON WORMS from the plants. The cotton worms
have dined on the cotton and nearly destroyed the crop.
We see the cotton worms in extreme close-up, moving among
and destroying the cotton crop.
Epps is beside himself as he looks out over his ruined
It is a plague.
A plague! It's damn Biblical.
Two season God done sent a plague
to smite me. I am near ruination.
Why, Treach? What I done that God
hate me so? Do I not preach His
The whole Bayou sufferin'.
I don't care nothin' fer the damn
Bayou. I'm sufferin'.
Epps looks among his slaves at work, his enmity growing.
It's that Godless lot. They
brought this on me. I bring 'em
115 CONTINUED: 115
God's word, and heathens they are,
they brung me God's scorn.
Crazed, Epps runs into the field, taking himself from
slave to slave delivering a whipping to all he can lay
his hands on.
Damn you! Damn you all! Damn
117 EXT. JUDGE TURNER'S PLANTATION - EVENING 117
Henry, Bob, Uncle Abram and Solomon sit in the back of a
cart. SOLOMON HAS HIS FIDDLE WITH HIM. Epps has
delivered the men to JUDGE TURNER, a distinguished man
and extensive planter whose large estate is situated on
Bayou Salle within a few miles of the gulf. Epps and
Turner stand off to one side engaged in bargaining as
Henry, Bob, Uncle Abram and Solomon wait and watch.
One of the slaves whisper under their breath.
I hear cutting cane is twice as
hard as picking cotton.
But at least we'll be away from
Boy, you two have no sense.
Epps returns to his slaves and gives a parting
Yer Judge Turner's for the season.
More if need be, until my crop
return. Yah'll bring no
disrespect to me, and yah'll bring
no biblical plagues to him. Be
decent, ere mark my words, I will
deliver an ungodly whippin'.
INT. SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
118 CONTINUED: 118
Slaves are crammed into the shack - LITERALLY ON TOP OF
EACH OTHER - as they try to sleep. Some lay, some sit
up. Packed in like cattle, there is barely room to move
let alone draw a deep, clean breath. There is a real
risk of suffocating in the mass. Some cough and wheeze.
A CHILD CRIES...
Among them is Solomon who must believe at this point that
his life has reached its very lowest point. The odds of
survival are slight, let alone the chance of actually
ever returning to his family. This clearly weighs on him
as he struggles to find anything like comfortable space
in the pen.
EXT. CANE FIELDS - DAY
An OVERSEER is explaining to the new slaves - SOLOMON
AMONG THEM - how to cultivate cane. WITH A KNIFE IN HAND
he demonstrates the process:
Draw the cane from the rick, cut
the top and flags from the stalk,
understand? Leave only that part
which is sound and healthy. Cast
off the rest...
EXT. CANE FIELDS - DAY
ABOUT THIRTY SLAVES are working the field. They are
divided into THREE GANGS. The first which draw the cane,
the next lay the cane in the drill, the last then hoe the
Solomon is among a gang that draws and cuts, and he moves
with speed and skill. Certainly more so than he
displayed picking cotton.
Standing with his overseer, Judge Turner watches.
INT. SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
Again, the slaves have been herded into the shack and
As he tries to rest - sleep is nearly impossible -
Solomon finds himself face to face with a woman, ANNA.
She is awake. For a few beats she avoids eye contact
with Solomon. She seems, like Solomon, to be
unaccustomed to her surroundings and horribly frightened
by them. Eventually her eyes meet Solomon's. She makes
no sound, but great apprehension spills from her eyes.
Whatever's next, whatever horror awaits, she can barely
stand to face. Fear, proximity... They drive her hand
121 CONTINUED: 121
to Solomon's. After a moment of seemingly reacquainting
herself with genuine human contact, the woman TAKES
121 CONTINUED: (2) 121
SOLOMON'S HAND AND PRESSES IT TO HER BREAST. Solomon
tries to jerk his hand away, but ANNA HOLDS IT IN PLACE.
Manipulating Solomon's hand, she begins to massage her
breast. Solomon takes no real pleasure in the act -
really, neither does Anna. THERE SHOULD BE A TRUE SENSE
ANNA IS JUST SO VERY, VERY DESPERATE FOR HUMAN CONTACT,
FOR THE NEED TO FEEL ALIVE AND LIKE A PERSON RATHER THAN
AN ANIMAL THAT EMOTIONALLY SHE IS WILLING TO ENGAGE
The need quickly compounds. Anna presses her lips to
Solomon's. Eventually, SHE DIRECTS HIS HAND BENEATH HER
DRESS AND BETWEEN HER LEGS. Solomon, with slightly more
compassion than a guy making union wages, BEGINS TO
MANIPULATE ANNA WITH HIS HAND. The act remains more
perfunctory than passionate.
We can see Anna moving toward climax and eventual
release. But more - or substantially less - than joyous
sex, it is really just a drug-like inoculation against
reality. But the feeling quickly fades. All that
remains, as with most chance encounters, is regret.
And there is shame, too. This is put on display as Anna
turns away from Solomon. As quickly as it began, it is
as though the act had not happened at all.
123 EXT. JUDGE TURNER'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - EVENING 123
Solomon waits outside the house on the porch. A house
servant - ZACHARY - approaches and admonishes Solomon.
Off the porch. Get off.
Like a dog shooed away, Solomon steps down.
Eventually Judge Turner exits the house and crosses to
Platt is it? Have you cultivated
No, sir, I have not.
You take to it quite naturally.
Are you educated?
123 CONTINUED: 123
Niggers are hired to work, not to
read and write.
Turner gives that a bit of consideration as he gives
Solomon a wary looking over.
You play the fiddle?
Willard Yarney, a planter up the
bayou, celebrates his anniversary
in a three week's time. I will
hold out your name to him. What
you earn is yours to keep.
Mind yourself, Platt.
124 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - LATER (MOVED FROM 124) 124
Work over, the slaves congregate to eat.
As Solomon eats, he takes note of the JUICE FROM SOME
BERRIES ON HIS PLATE.
125 EXT. TURNER'S PLANTATION - EVENING (MOVED FROM 125) 125
Solomon plays with a piece of cane, fashions it into some
kind of writing tool, testing it in the mud. He then
brushes over the dirt with his hand.
126 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - NIGHT (MOVED FROM 126) 126
Secreted away out near the edge of the bayou and sitting
by a small fire, Solomon takes the slip of paper from his
fiddle. It is yellowed, showing age, but still usable.
Dipping the piece of cane - a quill - into the crushed
berries, Solomon attempts to write a bit on the paper.
The berry juice, too free-flowing, is unusable as ink.
Solomon returns the paper to the fiddle. He has some
scraps of food with him, which he snacks on.
A127A INT. SLAVE SHACK - DAY A127A
We see a sharp object scratching onto a surface. The
tool moves on to form another mark. The sound is
repetitive and almost unbearable. As we move out, we see
the names Anne, Margaret, Alonzo. They are engraved onto
the violin, in the hidden area where Solomon would rest
Solomon looks at it for a moment, moving his fingertips
across the engraving. His face full of loss.
Sadly, he lifts his instrument under his chin and leaning
his head to the side as if to play.
127 INT. YARNEY'S HOUSE - EVENING 127
A party has commenced at the noble home of one MR.
YARNEY. A group of REVELERS have gathered and are on the
dance floor, in fancy dress. Their faces are covered with
a variation of decorative masks. The party is a feast of
celebration. As entertainment, SOLOMON ACCOMPANIES A
GROUP OF MUSICIANS, no more than three. And as he does
so, they all play with jovial liveliness. Clearly a good
time is being had by all.
EXT. ROAD - NIGHT
His playing done for the evening, Solomon is returning to
Judge Turner's on foot. There is only the moonlight with
which to light the way. As he walks, Solomon eats from a
HEARTY CHUCK OF BREAD. Obviously part of his haul from
the evening. Solomon again hears noises coming from the
brush just up ahead of him. Solomon tears off some of
the bread, kneels and holds it out before him.
C'mere. C'mon, boy.
128 CONTINUED: 128
This time, there is no dog. Instead, from the dark and
the brush step TWO BLACK MEN. Solomon stands. He looks
the men over - their clothes tatters and they themselves
covered in dirt. It becomes quite clear they are not
just slaves. A fact confirmed when they step menacingly
toward Solomon, ONE WITH A SHIV IN HAND.
At first it seems they want Solomon's food or money.
Worse, THEY GO FOR HIS FIDDLE.
Solomon has but a moment to brace himself before he is
attacked, TAKING A CUT TO THE ARM. Solomon fights back,
PICKING UP A PINE KNOT and striking his attacker over the
head. That takes the fight out of him, and both men
retreat back the way they came leaving Solomon be.
EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - NIGHT
Outside of the slave shacks Solomon's wound tended by
Uncle Abram. As he works on it:
Runaways I would expect. The
Bayou full with 'em. They nothin'
'mo dangerous than a nigger in
They acted out of desperation.
Act outta lunacy. Heads fulla
stories 'bout life up north. Yah
ever been north, Platt?
And never should yah be. I hope
that yah never bear witness the
sorry condition of the northern
black. Got neither no purpose,
nor direction. They jus...they
jus fall about the streets in
search of sustenance of both body
You know this to be so?
Two of my massas tolt me.
A129 CONTINUED: A129
129 OMIT 129
130 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - NIGHT 130
Alone out on the edge of the Bayou, Solomon is playing a
low air on his violin WHILE SNACKING ON SCRAPS OF BACON.
As he plays, something appears in the distance. From the
edge of the bayou, coming forth like an apparition arisen
from the earth, is CELESTE. She is a young woman of
about 19 years of age and far whiter than most blacks.
"IT REQUIRED CLOSE INSPECTION TO DISTINGUISH IN HER
FEATURE THE SLIGHTEST TRACE OF AFRICAN BLOOD." Beyond
that, she is pale and haggard, but still lovely.
Dressed in a white gown, she emerges from the water.
Draped on her dress, her period. A line in her skirt.
It's very visible, but not shocking. A ribbon of red in
Celeste moves to Solomon without fear or hesitation. As
Solomon, startled, takes her in, Celeste says quite
I am hungry. Give me food.
Who are you?
Solomon gives Celeste some of his food. Celeste,
famished, devours it.
What is your name?
My name is Celeste.
What are your circumstances?
I belong ta Massa Carey, and 'ave
been two days among da palmettoes.
Celeste is sick and cain't work,
and would rather die in the swamp
130 CONTINUED: 130
than be whipped to death by the
overseer. So I took myself away.
Massa's dogs won't follow me. The
patrollers 'ave tried to set dem
on me. But dey a secret between
dem and Celeste, and dey won't
mind the devilish orders of the
Celeste lifts her head from the food on which she gnaws.
Do you believe me?
There are some whose tracks the
hounds will refuse to follow.
Give me more food. I'm starvin'.
This is all my allowance for the
Give it to me.
Almost as if compelled, Solomon does as ordered. As she
eats, Celeste aggrandizes herself:
Most slaves escape at night. The
overseers are alert for such
chicanes. But Celeste tricked dem
'n alight in the middle of the day
wit the sun up at its highest.
The place of my concealment now
deep in the swamp, not half a mile
from Massa's plantation, and a
world apart. A world a tall
trees whose long arms make fo' a
canopy so dense dey keep away even
the beams of the sun. It twilight
always in Celeste's world, even in
the brightest day. I will live
there, and I will live freely.
The overseers are a cowardly lot.
Dey will not go where their dogs
show fear and where it always be
night. Others will join me in the
twilight, and we ain't gunna be
slaves no 'mo forever.
130 CONTINUED: (2) 130
Solomon isn't sure what to say. Before he can say
Celeste will come to you again in
the night. You will have food for
Celeste departs the way she came; as though she were a
INT. JUDGE TURNER'S PLANTATION/FOOD STORAGE - NIGHT
Solomon stealthfully makes his way into the storage shed.
Dried and smoked meats are hung, and milled corn is
about. Taking out a handkerchief, Solomon begins to load
it with food. Not too much. Not so much his thievery
will be readily noticed, but he does avail himself.
EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - NIGHT
Solomon plays his violin, but plays it with an anxious
nature as he waits.
Then, as before, a figure appears in the distance. It is
Celeste coming out of the night. She makes her way
directly to Solomon. With no greeting, she says:
I am hungry.
Solomon gives Celeste the handkerchief he's filled. She
opens it, and begins to devour the food. As she eats:
I was rude, and didn't even ask yo
Solomon. Solomon is my true and
Was you free?
I was. I am.
Solomon exposes his wrist, displays his tattoo as he
I remain free in my heart.
132 CONTINUED: 132
Giving a laugh as though it's the silliest thing she's
Free heart means nothin if'n yo
body gunna die a slave.
I will not.
How? Celeste knows you ain't
gunna run. Celeste knows it ain't
I have a plan. I have a letter.
A letter? How'll yah mail da
letter? Who yah trust to post it?
A nigger that can read and write
is a nigger that'll hang.
There is a pause. Solomon can't answer this question. It
is the glaring hole in his plan.
Having finished eating:
132 CONTINUED: (2) 132
Celeste will come again in de
night. You will bring her 'mo
I risk discovery to take more.
You will bring Celeste 'mo food.
And with that Celeste again moves back into the darkness.
134 OMIT 134
135 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - EVENING 135
Solomon is picking at the bark off a WHITE MAPLE.
136 EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - EVENING 136
In a tin cup, over a fire, Solomon boils the white maple
bark in just a bit of water.
137 INT. JUDGE TURNER'S PLANTATION/SLAVES CABIN - NIGHT 137
As others sleep, by the light of dying coals, Solomon
uses the quill to test the boiled bark. The liquid holds
as a form of ink. It is no?t ideal, but it is legible on
the page. Armed with this, Solomon writes his letter.
EXT. TURNER PLANTATION - NIGHT
Solomon sits with Celeste. He relates his news to her.
I have my letter.
Yah has your freedom then?
All that remains is to contrive
measures by which the letter can
safely be deposited in the post
When Celeste speaks she is quite melancholy.
138 CONTINUED: 138
I have resolved to return to my
Solomon gives an unnerved look. This is not good news.
Is it more food you need?
I live in fear.
None will come after you in the
It ain't the patrollers I scared
of... At all seasons the howling
of wild animals can be heard at
night along the border of the
swamps. At first their calls were
welcomin'. Dey too was free, 'n I
thought dey greeted me like a
sistah. Lately, dey cries have
turned horrifyin'. They mean to
The solitude plays tricks. It's
your impression, nothing more. If
you go back to your master you
could face the same.
My freedom been nothin' but a
daydream. So was Celeste's
thoughts of slaves conjoinin' in
Better the loneliness. You have
been free most of the summer.
Return now and your master will
make example of you.
It is lonely dwellin' waiting for
others who won't never come.
138 CONTINUED: (2) 138
Go north. Make your way by
It'll only be worse if'n Celeste
don't go back of her own will.
You won't be caught. The dogs
won't track you. You are...you
are unique. Celeste...
You got alternatives, Solomon.
To return is to die!
Celeste got no one to write a
As if to punctuate her resolve, without a word more
Celeste departs toward the swamp. Solomon starts on into
the swamp after her.
Solomon continues after Celeste, wading deeper into the
dark night and murky waters.
Celeste, I will guide you north!
Wait, and I will take you.
Celeste is too nimble. She outpaces Solomon, continues
on and disappears into the night.
Let me take you! Let me go with
Solomon runs on, then splashes to a stop. He stumbles
around disoriented, calling into the blackness:
Nothing. No answer. Not a human one. There are sounds
and echoes - some in the distance, some perhaps moving
closer - which, moment by moment, become more and more
frightening. Soon, Solomon realizes he is in quite
literally over his head; the water first chest deep, then
neck deep. With no way to orient himself, no means to
guide him in the dark, Solomon's reserve begins to
crumble. He thrashes in the water trying to find his way
138 CONTINUED: (3) 138
back to shore. No longer trying to save Celeste, Solomon
calls to her - desperately - for assistance.
Celeste! Come to me, Celeste!
In that moment Solomon is quite certain he is nearly
done; that he will not find land, nor aid and that this
is his final moment. His panic should be that tangible.
It is either force of will, or survival instinct...or
maybe just pure luck that carries Solomon on until he
reaches first muddy ground, then firm footing. Hauling
himself onto the swamps edge, Solomon finally collapses
in a drenched, worn heap. His life spared, but Celeste
never to be seen again.
EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION - DAY
We come up now outside of Master Epps's plantation. Epps
stands in the drive. He's in surprisingly good spirits
as Solomon, Uncle Abram, Henry and Bob trudge their way
wearily toward Epps and his other slaves who are
The cotton field is in full bloom, the crop fully
A joyous day. A joyous day. Dark
times is behind us. Clean livin'
'n prayer done lifted the plague.
Indicating to the cotton:
As thick 'n white as New England
snow. 'N now my niggers is
returned to me.
Heard Judge Turner gave you favor.
Oh, did you beguile him, Platt,
with your slick nigger ways?
Well, yah won't stand idle, boy.
Not on my land. Much work to do.
Days of old long since, eh?
Joyous! Joyous indeed!
Throughout Epps's welcome, Solomon's focus is on Patsey
who is lined up with the other slaves. SHE IS NOW MORE
HAGGARD THAN WHEN WE LAST SAW HER. Her face and arms
display many new scars. It's clear that in the
intervening years she has quite literally been a whipping
boy for Epps and the Mistress.
140 EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/COTTON FIELD - DAY 140
The slaves are out working on the field. White hands
appear, picking cotton: ARMSBY. He is wholly unskilled at
picking cotton, and he puts little effort into the job.
As we meet him he seems a decent sort if a little short
on self-motivation. In anachronistic terminology, he'd
be called a "slacker." He joins in with the slaves,
singing a spiritual.
INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GIN HOUSE - EVENING
As Epps said, it is days of long since. The slaves are
back to having their cotton weighed in the Gin House
Two hundred sixty pounds.
Three hundred forty pounds for
Five hundred twenty pounds.
Tha's a girl. Don't never let me
One hundred sixty pounds.
Before Treach is even done announcing the weight, Epps
has pulled Solomon aside to where Uncle Abram already
awaits his fate.
Sixty four pounds.
Epps speaks to Armsby sternly, but nothing of the manner
in which he would address the slaves.
141 CONTINUED: 141
A good days labor would average
two hundred pounds.
I'm sure in time y'll develope as
a picker, but it takes effort,
boy. Put some damn effort into
To Treach, regarding Solomon and Abram:
Take 'em out. Get to whippin'.
No force is needed. The slaves understand the situation.
They follow Treach out of the Gin house.
EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
We come in after the punishment has been dealt. Patsey
tends to Uncle Abram's back as Armsby applies liniments
to Solomon's. As he does, Armsby muses:
It's a tragedy. How does such
come to pass? Working a field and
picking cotton like a lowly hand.
I'm of a damn sight better
station. And my desires never
lacked for a grandiose component,
though I will admit they have at
times been short on ingenuity.
But only at times. I've worked as
an overseer, you know.
I did not, sir.
Not "sir." Just Armsby. Not owed
more than any other in the field.
I worked plantations from
Virginia, down into Alabama. I
could manage easy a hundred slaves
and have done so. But to toil in
the field? Never thought that
would come to pass. Never. But
times are desperate. Where once I
had said "no" to Epps and his
merger offerings, I returned cap
142 CONTINUED: 142
in hand. ...Look at what I've
How did you arrive at such a
place, if I may ask?
Ask. It's just conversation.
From a pocket Armsby produces a flask.
I became a little too dependant on
the whisky, a little too
undependable on the job. Before
you say I'm just a sorry drunkard,
let me state my case: As reliable
employment as overseeing is, it's
no easy chore on the spirit. I
say no man of conscious can take
the lash to another human day in,
and day out without shredding at
his own self. Takes him to a
place where he either makes
excuses within his mind to be
unaffected... Or finds some way
to trample his guilty sensations.
Well, I trampled.
Armsby takes a drink.
And with frequency.
Where is your place of birth?
Maryland. Have you traveled
...I cannot say that I have.
Fine country. More seasonal than
the bayou. A deal less humid.
Why did you leave it?
To make my fortune, of course. I
gave in to tales of wealth and
prosperity that were the lore of
the southern states: all that's
needed being a patch of land and a
few good growing seasons. Cotton,
142 CONTINUED: (2) 142
or tobacco. And then locating a
proper bank in which to store your
riches. But such profitable
outcomes are reserved for the
plantation masters. It's the lot
of the rest of us to serve. So I
settled on being an overseer, and
failed as well at that. In the
meantime my dreams gave way to
reality. Now, I want nothing more
than to earn a decent wage.
And get myself home.
Armsby takes another drink and leans back.
INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACKS - MORNING
We again hear the sound of the HORN BLOWING signaling the
start of the work day for the slave.
144 EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY 144
With the sun yet again high in the sky the slaves are
working the field picking cotton. As before they sing a
spiritual, the only thing that distracts them from the
tedium at hand.
But there is no distracting from the heat. We see Uncle
Abram begin to falter and finally drop down to the
Treach calls to Edward:
Get him water.
Edward runs to fetch water which he carries to Abram and
DUMPS ON HIM...BUT ABRAM DOES NOT RISE. DOES NOT MOVE.
At this point, the sounds of the singing from the others
tapers off as they realize Abram isn't getting up.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE CEMETERY - LATER
We are beyond the main of the plantation, the cotton
field in the background. We are at the slaves' cemetery,
a mixture of crude crosses and unsettled ground.
Solomon, Bob and Henry, now much visually older than when
we first saw them, are digging a grave in the dirt. The
uncovered body of Abram lays near. Having dug down an
appropriate distance, the three men take the body and,
very unceremoniously, place it into the ground. Holding
145 CONTINUED: 145
the shovel in his hands, and resting it by his feet, Bob
tilts his head down and closes his eyes. The others do
the same. Almost stutteringly, not really knowing what to
I just want to say something about
Uncle Abram. He was a good man and
he always looked out for us since
we were little. God Bless him. God
love him. And God keep him.
That done, they begin to cover it with dirt. It is all
the more of a funeral that Abram will receive.
147 OMIT 147
A148 EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE CEMETERY - LATER A148
A female voice appears out of the blackness and begins to
sing solo, "Went down to the river Jordan." A response of
"Oh Yeah" quickly follows. Again the singer continues,
"where John baptized three."
The same faces we have seen on Epps' plantation, but now
filled with rapture, appear. It's as if the voices have
created a new form of awakening and presence. It seems to
transcend and translate in a strange way, joy. A joy
which has un-yet been seen on screen. A joy which has
been hidden, but a joy which is undoubtedly there. It's
This should be a moving part of the film, which stirs the
audience and, for a moment, relieves them of the
seemingly chastising environment.
The singer continues, "Well some say John was a Baptist,
some say John was a Jew, but I say John was a preacher,
because the Bible says so too, preach on Johnny." And
with that, the rest of the congregation chant "I believe.
Oh, I believe."
INT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/WOODS - NIGHT
Solomon goes to RETRIEVE THE SMALL PACKAGE FROM UNDER A
ROCK AT THE BASE OF A TREE. Solomon returns the letter to
hiding. He takes the money with him and cautiously moves
from the area.
150 INT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/ARMSBY'S SHACK - LATER 150
The door opens. Solomon enters. Armsby is surprised to
see him. So much so, he isn't sure what greeting to
give. Solomon gives a blunt introduction. Re: the
The proceeds of my fiddling
performances. A few picayunes,
but all I have in the world. I
promise them to you if you will do
me the favor I require. But I beg
you not to expose me if you cannot
grant the request.
What do you ask?
First, your word, sir.
On my honor.
It is a simple enough request. I
ask only that you deposit a letter
in the Marksville post office.
And that you keep the action an
inviolable secret forever. The
details of the letter are of no
consequence. Even at that, there
would be an imposition of much
pain and suffering were it known I
was the author. A patron is what
I require, sir.
Where's the letter now?
...It is not yet written. I will
have it in a day. Two at most, my
skill with composition as poor as
Armsby considers the request.
I will do it. And will accept
whatever payment is offered.
Solomon hesitates. In the moment, he's not so sure he
can wholly give himself over to trust.
150 CONTINUED: 150
To assist you, I put my own self
at risk. I will do so, but fair
compensation is all I ask.
Solomon hands over the money.
Draw up your letter. We will meet
again. In two days?
In two days. ...Thank you.
EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/COTTON FIELD - DAY
Solomon and the slaves pick cotton. Armsby is
conspicuously NOT laboring in the field. As Solomon
works he is watched by Epps. Watched more than he
normally is. For a moment it seems it might just be a
matter of perspective; Solomon's unease over his actions.
But soon Epps is joined by Armsby. The two men stand and
talk, their looks locked toward Solomon.
Whatever it is that is occurring between them continues
for a long, long moment. But Epps makes no move toward
Solomon. Solomon continues with his work.
INT. EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - NIGHT
The slaves are at rest. Gripping his whip Epps enters,
without so much as a knock at the door. For a moment
there's curiosity; is he there for a dance, for
Looking right to Solomon:
Solomon does. Epps heads back out into the dark. He
says nothing, but his directive is clear: Follow me.
153 EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/SLAVE SHACK - CONTINUOUS 153
Solomon comes out into the dark. Nearly hidden in the
shadows is a bitter Epps. Despite the lack of light,
Epps's malevolence is quite clear. His whip attached to
his hip. As he speaks, he stokes himself with swigs from
Epps puts his arm around Solomon, as if consoling a
friend, and guides him into the woods.
153 CONTINUED: 153
Well, boy. I understand I've got
a larned nigger that writes
153 CONTINUED: (2) 153
letters and tries to get white
fellows to mail 'em.
Solomon, hardly missing a beat, plays this off.
Well, Armsby tol' me today the
devil was among my niggers. That
I had one that needed close
watchin' or he would run away.
When I axed him why, he said you
come over to him and waked him up
in the middle of the night and
wanted him to carry a letter to
Marksville. What have yah got to
say to that?
All I have to say, master, is all
that need be said. There is no
truth in it.
How could I write a letter without
ink or paper? There is nobody I
want to write to 'cause I hain't
got no friends living as I know
of. That Armsby is a lying
drunken fellow. You know this,
just as you know that I am
constant in truth. Now, master, I
can see what that Armsby is after,
plain enough. Didn't he want you
to hire him for an overseer?
That's it. He wants to make you
believe we're all going to run
away and then he thinks you'll
hire an overseer to watch us. He
believes you are soft soap. He's
given to such talk. I believe
he's just made this story out of
whole cloth, 'cause he wants to
get a situation. It's all a lie,
master, you may depend on't. It's
all a lie.
For a tense moment we are unsure which way Epps'll go.
Increasingly it become apparent that, shallow minded and
equally soused, Solomon has been able to fold Epps's
thoughts. In a low curse that clearly states his ill
153 CONTINUED: (3) 153
Revealed is a pocket knife, which all through the
conversation, unknown to us the audience, was pushed up
against Solomon's stomach. As Epps speaks, he closes it
and taps it on Solomon's shoulder.
I'm damned. I'll be god... Were
he not free and white, Platt.
Were he not free and white.
Epps heads off. Solomon is left to exhale a deep breath.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/WOODS - NIGHT
Having found a lonely spot, Solomon has struck a SMALL
FIRE. He has in his hand his letter. With no ceremony,
he casts the letter upon the flames and watches it burn.
And with it, at this time, seems all chance of him ever
being free. He stands and looks at it as if forever, as
ashes descend into the night sky.
FADE TO BLACK.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - DAY
The slaves are now employed working on an extension to
the Great House. The slaves work under the direction of
MR. SAMUEL BASS, a between forty and fifty years old, of
light complexion and light hair. He is cool and self-
possessed, fond of argument, but always speaking with
extreme deliberation as well as a Canadian accent.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE - DAY
As the slaves continue to work, there is a conversation
going on between Epps and Bass. Bass much skilled in the
art of sophistry, while Epps's arguments are fueled
mostly by emotion alone. Though at first Epps does
little more than joke his way around the facts.
Solomon, working still, can't help but overhear as Epps
offers Bass a drink, which Bass waves away.
Take it. You look unsettled.
No shame in taking respite from
the heat; drink, shade. It's
ungodly for travelers. Hearty, or
B155 CONTINUED: B155
Bass gives a laugh.
I meant no joke.
B155 CONTINUED: (2) B155
Your humor is inadvertent.
Sensing perhaps Bass's laughter might be at his expense,
Then share what's funny. Or what
I'm here to complete the work at
hand. As requested, and as paid.
Something rubs you wrongly.
Before I take further offense, I
offer you the opportunity to speak
You ask plainly, I will tell you
plainly. What I find amusing: You
worry about my well being in the
heat but, quite frankly, the
condition of your laborers--
"The condition of my..." What in
the hell are you--
It is horrid. It's all wrong.
All wrong, sir.
They ain't hired help. They're my
You say that with pride.
I say it as fact.
If the conversation concerns what
is factual and what is not;
there's no justice nor
righteousness in slavery. I
wouldn't own a slave if I was rich
as Croesus, which I am not, as is
perfectly well understood. More
particularly among my creditors.
There's another humbug: the credit
system. Humbug, sir. No credit,
no debt. Credit leads a man into
temptation. Cash down is the only
thing that will deliver him from
B155 CONTINUED: (3) B155
evil. But this question of
slavery; what right have you to
your niggers when you come down to
What right? I bought 'em. I paid
Of course you did. The law says
you have the right to hold a
nigger, but begging the law's
pardon...it lies. Is everything
right because the law allows it?
Suppose they'd pass a law taking
away your liberty and making you a
That ain't a supposable case.
Because the law states that your
liberties are undeniable? Because
society deems it so? Laws change.
Social systems crumble. Universal
truths are constant. It is a
fact, it is a plain fact that what
is true and right is true and
right for all. White and black
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Yah compare me
to a nigger, Bass? Yah might as
well ask what the difference is
between a white man and a baboon.
Now, I seen one of them critters
in Orleans that knowed just as
much as any nigger I got. Yah'd
call them fellers citizens, I
Look here; you can't laugh me down
in that way. These niggers are
human beings. If they are allowed
to scale no higher than brute
animals, you and men like you will
have to answer for it. There's an
B155 CONTINUED: (4) B155
A fearful ill, resting on this
You betray yourself a foreigner!
That will not go unpunished
forever. There will be a
You like to hear yourself talk,
Bass, better than any man I know
of. Yah'd argue that black was
white, or white black if anybody
would contradict you. A fine
supposition if yah lived among
Yankees in New England. But yah
You most assuredly do not.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION - DAY
It's the Sabbath. The slaves are left to themselves to
do their own chores. At the moment the female slaves are
washing their clothes in large cauldrons, slapping their
clothes against washing boards and hanging them up to dry
near to their living quarters behind the plantation. It
is a sight of ritual. Missing from the field of labor is
Patsey, for whom Epps hollers.
A drunk Epps asks of the slaves:
Where is she? Where is Patsey?
No one answers.
Talk, Damn you!
We know nothin' of her, Massa.
The hell you don't! You know
where she is! She run off, ain't
she? She's escaped, and you
miserable black dogs stand like
155 CONTINUED: 155
the deef and dumb. Speak! Speak!
Not a word spoken.
My best cotton picking nigger! My
I'd give yah all up for her.
Where she gone?
The slaves say nothing. There is nothing for them to
say. They don't know where she is. Eventually Epps
drops into true sorrow.
She gone... My Pats gone.
EXT. EPPS'S PLANTATION - LATER
Epps sits on the piazza looking quite forlorn. He looks
up only to see PATSEY RETURNING TO THE PLANTATION. Epps
steps up to greet her, with anger rather than relief.
As they hear his angry voice, the slaves step around from
where they are hanging their laundry to dry. Treach is
near as well.
Run off. Run off, did you?
You miserable wench! Where you
I been nowhere.
Lies to your misdeeds!
The Sabbath day, Massa. I took me
a walk to commune wit da Lord.
Bring the Lord into yer
deceptions? Yah Godless...
Shaw's. Comin' from Shaw's
plantation weren't yah?
156 CONTINUED: 156
156 CONTINUED: (2) 156
Yah took yerself ta pleasure Shaw.
Yah gave baser passion to that
Solomon tries to intervene:
Now yah speak? Now that yah want
to add to 'er lies yah find yer
Epps goes to strike Solomon, but Patsey pulls his arm
Do not strike him. I went to
Massa Shaw's plantation!
Yah admit it.
Freely. And you know why.
Patsey takes soap from the pocket of her dress.
I got this from Mistress Shaw.
Mistress Epps won't even grant me
no soap ta clean with. Stink so
much I make myself gag. Five
hundred pounds 'a cotton day in,
day out. More than any man here.
And 'fo that I will be clean; that
all I ax. Dis here what I went to
The Lord knows that's all.
And you blind wit yer own
covetousness. I don't lie, Massa.
If you kill me, I'll stick ta
I'll learn you to go to Shaw's.
Treach, go get some line.
156 CONTINUED: (3) 156
Treach runs quickly to the tool shed. In short order he
returns with the rope in hand.
Strip her. Strike her bare 'n
lash her to the post.
Mistress Epps has now come from the Great House. She
gazes on the scene with an air of heartless satisfaction.
Now tied to the post, Epps stands behind Patsey with his
Yah done this to yerself, Pats!
Epps hoists the whip to strike, holds it high...but no
matter his rage, Epps cannot bring himself to deliver the
blow. He looks to Mistress Epps who now stands gloating
and spurring him on.
Do it! Strike the life from her.
Epps again hoists the whip. It trembles in his hand
ahead of the act... But he does not have it in him to
deliver such a beating. Turning to Solomon, thrusting
the whip at him:
Solomon doesn't move. Epps shoves the whip into his
Give her the whip. Give it all to
Patsey, begging to Solomon:
I'd rather it you, Platt.
Strike her, or yah'll get the
156 CONTINUED: (4) 156
Solomon takes a step back. He unfurls the whip... He
begins to whip Patsey. Lash after lash, Patsey squirms
before it. Epps eyes fill with tears, he is nearly too
distraught to watch.
But the Mistress... She is not satisfied with Solomon's
He pantomimes. There ain't barely
a welt on her. That's what your
niggers make of yah; a fool fer
Epps's grief is replaced by fury. EPPS GRABS THE PISTOL
FROM TREACH'S HOLSTER and draws down on the slaves.
Yah will strike her. Yah will
strike her until her flesh is rent
and meat and blood flow equal, or
I will kill every nigger in my
Solomon can't strike a blow, even if it means his life.
But from the ground, from Patsey:
Do it, Platt. Don't stop until I
What else can he do? Solomon begins to whip, to truly
whip Patsey. Her back welts, then tears... Patsey
screams in agony. Solomon strikes again and again...
After a full thirty lashes Solomon looks to Epps, who is
Until I say no more! I ain't said
Solomon strikes another ten to fifteen times. By now, as
promised, Patsey's back has been reduced to LITTLE MORE
THAN TORN MEAT AND BLOOD.
Finally, Solomon holds low the whip. He can and will do
Strike her! Strike her!
Solomon will not. Epps takes up the whip and whips
Patsey with "ten fold" greater force than he had. The
painfully loud and angry curses of Epps load the air.
Patsey by now is terribly lacerated, literally flayed.
The lash wet with blood which flowed down her sides and
dropped upon the ground. At length Patsey ceases
struggling. Her head sinks listlessly on the ground.
156 CONTINUED: (5) 156
Her screams and supplications gradually decrease and die
away into a low moan. It would seem that she was dying.
Solomon, screaming at Epps:
Thou devil! Sooner or later,
somewhere in the course of eternal
justice thou shalt answer for this
Though Epps fronts rage, there should be underlying
anguish for what he has done to his beloved Pats.
No sin! There is no sin! A man
does how he pleases with his
property. At the moment, Platt, I
am of great pleasure. You be
goddamn careful I don't come to
wantin' to lightenin' my mood no
By contrast to this horror, the field of cotton smiles in
the warm sunlight. The birds chirp merrily amidst the
foliage of the tress. Peace and happiness seems to reign
Epps leaves Patsey to herself. He says not a word to the
Mistress as he passes. The Mistress herself heads back
into the house.
Solomon unties Patsey, lifts her and takes her to the
INT. CABIN - LATER
Patsey is laid on some boards where she remains for a
long time with eyes closed and groaning in agony. Phebe
applies melted tallow to her wounds, and all try to
assist and console her.
In time Patsey opens her eyes. She looks to Solomon.
She does not say a word. She just looks at him...and
then her eyes close again.
MOVED TO A155
159 MOVED TO B155 159
160 INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/GREAT HOUSE/ADDITION - 160
Solomon and Bass are working together alone on the
extension. From the amount of work that's been done on
it, it should be obvious that days have now passed.
Solomon makes a cautious approach to Bass. As casually
as he can he inquires:
Master Bass, I want to ask you
what part of the country you came
No part of this land. I was born
in Canada. Now guess where that
Oh, I know where Canada is. I
have been there myself.
Montreal and Kingston and
Queenston and a great many places.
And I have been in York state,
too. Buffalo and Rochester and
Albany, and can tell you the names
of the villages on the Erie canal
and the Champlain canal.
Bass gives Solomon a long and curious stare.
Well traveled for a slave. How
came you here?
Master Bass, if justice had been
done I never would have been here.
How's this? Tell me all about it.
I am afraid to tell you, though I
don't believe you would tell
Master Epps if I should.
Every word you speak is a profound
160 CONTINUED: 160
Solomon holds a moment. Hasn't he heard the same promise
before? Prior to Solomon stating his case, WE FADE TO:
161 INT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION / ADDITION - DAY 161
Hours have passed. Bass reflects on the story that Epps
has told in the intervening.
How many years all told?
Just nearly...just passed eleven.
Your story is...it is amazing, and
in no good way.
Do you believe, sir, in justice as
you have said?
That slavery is an evil that
should befall none?
I believe so.
If you truly do, I would ask...I
would beg that you write my
friends in the north, acquainting
them with my situation and
beseeching them to forward free
papers, or take such steps as they
might consider proper to secure my
Bass looks at Solomon, holding his gaze for more than a
My daughter Margaret is possibly
now 19 and my son Alonzo, 16. I
miss them so. It would be an
unspeakable happiness to clasp my
wife and my family again.
Bass hands Solomon an end of a long plank of wood and
looks over his shoulder, as if to camouflage the
conversation by work. They both lift it toward the
floorboards. Finally Bass speaks.
161 CONTINUED: 161
I have always forgone
relationships and family. I did
once have a sweetheart who I loved
Bass points to a measuring tool, which Solomon
immediately hands over.
But that was a long, long time
ago. I've been traveling this
country for the best part of
twenty years. My freedom is
everything. The fact that I can
walk out of here tomorrow gives me
most pleasure. I see the aching in
your eyes, the pain of not being
attached to your loved ones. My
life doesn't mean much to anyone,
but it seems your life means a lot
to a lot of people. What you have
just said to me scares me, and I
must say, sir, I am afraid. Not
just for you, but for me.
They continue working, fixing the floorboards in unison.
Solomon, slightly confused.
I will write your letter sir, for
if I could bring freedom to you,
it will be more than a pleasure.
It will be a duty. Now, would you
be so kind as to pass me those
We pull back to reveal the two men dwarfed by the
unfinished structure. They continue to work, as if the
conversation had never occurred.
163 OMIT 163
164 OMIT 164
A165 EXT. SWAMP TBD A165
Solomon walks a path he has walked a thousand times or
more on his way back from Bartholomew's - sack familiarly
slung over his right shoulder. Drearily he walks. His
eyes acknowledge something we yet cannot see to his left.
Almost simultaneously, his eyes retract back to the path
A165 CONTINUED: A165
towards Epps'. As he passes out of shot, the evidence of
what he was looking at is revealed.
FEET hang at the top right hand corner of the frame. A
woman, who has been lynched.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/ADDITION - DAY
To a now virtually complete, half-painted white gazebo.
Slaves continue to work on it. As they do so, Bass peels
away from the structure to have an overview. He beckons
Solomon toward him, out of earshot from the slaves who
are continuing to work on the gazebo. As Solomon
approaches, Bass shouts-
And bring those markers!
Solomon gathers a clutch of markers in his hands and
No letter yet.
You are certain?
Bass takes a marker from Solomon and slides it into the
I have inquired thoroughly. More
than is safe for either of us.
Bass takes another and pokes it into the ground,
improvising a pathway towards the gazebo.
Solomon...I have a job or two on
hand which will be completed
shortly... The work here has
165 CONTINUED: 165
Bass doesn't need to spell things out for Solomon.
Solomon's understanding of the finality of the situation
should be very clear.
You must know, wherever I am I
will press your cause.
Five months. On top of these
years. No cause remains.
If there is any chance...
I will continue to write your
Go home knowing you have tried.
The weight of defeat should hang very heavily with both
men. Nothing more to do, nothing more to say BASS TAKES
SOLOMON'S HAND, GRIPS IT FIRMLY, BUT LOW AND
SURREPTITIOUSLY knowing full well he cannot be seen
making contact with a slave. But in the strength of
their collective grip, in the emotion in which they hold
each other's eyes, we should be able to easily see how
greatly Bass wanted to be able to help Solomon. Equally,
we can see the depth of regard Solomon has for Bass. The
moment is made all the more powerful by the fact neither
man can openly speak his regret or thanks. A moment
longer, and then Bass releases his grip and makes his
way marching toward the gazebo, pointing instructions.
Solomon is left, markers in hand, alone.
167 OMIT 167
A168 EXT. ROAD BY EPPS' PLANTATION - EVENING A168
Solomon sits on a secluded part of the road, fiddle in
hand. He stares across the expanse. His eyes fixed on
something that is a million miles away.
Slowly Solomon tunes his fiddle, turning the tuning peg
tighter and tighter. As the strings are taut, the sound
is almost unbearable as Solomon tightens bit by bit, as
if bones are being cracked one by one. Just beyond the
breaking point of sound, there is a snap.
He then repeats the action.
Solomon holds the neck of the violin. Sliding his thumb
and forefinger down the neck, he methodically cracks it
at the base. He carefully snaps the neck and removes it
from the body, then snaps it in two, placing it on the
He then starts on the body. Heaving it on the ground, it
falls apart. Methodically he breaks the violin into small
bits - silencing the instrument with a hushed display of
violence, rather than aggressive. Seems almost to be, in
an odd way, respectful.
EXT. MASTER EPPS'S PLANTATION/FIELD - DAY
The Slaves are sewing the heavily plowed field, making
their way in the trying soil. Solomon, too focused to
note the arrival of two men by carriage: Parker and the
While the Sheriff makes his way to the field, Parker
remains with the carriage. The Sheriff calls:
Platt...? Where is the boy called
The Sheriff crosses to him.
Your name is Platt, is it?
Pointing off to the distance.
Do you know that man?
168 CONTINUED: 168
Solomon looks toward the carriage. He has to shield his
eyes from the sun. Recognition is slow coming to him.
But when it does, it hits him as a rush.
168 CONTINUED: (2) 168
Solomon starts for Parker, but he is pulled back by the
Sheriff who is keen to determine Solomon's true identity.
As he does, Epps makes his way over.
That man received a letter
compiling many accusations. You
look me in the eye and on your
life answer me truthfully: have
you any other name than Platt?
Solomon Northup is my name.
Have you a family?
What's all this?
It's official business.
My nigger, my business.
Your business waits.
Tell me of your family.
I have a wife and two children.
What were your children's names?
Margaret and Alonzo.
And your wife's name before her
Anne Hampton. I am who I say.
Solomon pushes past the sheriff. As Solomon moves toward
Parker, his pace quickens with each step until his
168 CONTINUED: (3) 168
personal velocity has him nearly at a dead run. The two
old friends make contact with each other, wrap each other
in a long and emotional embrace. It if finally broken by
Epps, who has moved over with the Sheriff.
168 CONTINUED: (4) 168
Nah... You will unhand 'em.
Platt is my nigger!
He is Solomon Northup.
He belongs to no man.
You say! You come here,
unfamiliar to me, and make claims.
Not claims. I have no doubts.
This is Solomon Northup, a
resident of Saratoga Springs, NY.
To hell with that! My nigger, and
I'll fight you for 'em!
As is your right. As it will be
my pleasure to bankrupt you in the
courts. Your decision.
By this time, the slaves in the plantation have overcome
their fear of penalty, and left their work and gathered
in the yard as witnesses. They stand behind the cabin,
out of sight of Epps.
Mistress Epps also bears witness, standing on the veranda
next to her house slave. Her face is of a strange mixed
Epps looks to Solomon. Solomon icily, stoically holds
his ground. He makes it quite clear in his countenance
that nobody owns him. Sheriff, hand on his gun, is there
to back Solomon up. Epps, with no other recourse than to
You think this is the last you'll
see of me, boy? It ain't.
Whatever paper you hold about his
freedom, it don't mean naught. He
is my nigger - and I will have my
day in court, sir. As God as my
witness, I will have my day in
court. Take 'em!
Epps calls to Bob-
168 CONTINUED: (5) 168
Saddle my horse! And bring her up
Epps walks back into the plantation.
The trio starts for the carriage. Solomon is pulled back
by the call of Patsey's voice:
Disregarding Parker, Solomon crosses over to Patsey.
Under the circumstances, neither really knows how to
engage. Finally, suddenly, Patsey throws her arms around
Solomon and they embrace.
Epps, now mounted on his horse, witness the encounter.
Kicking the stirrups hard into the sides of the horse, he
rides off furiously.
Calling from the carriage, mindful of Epps:
Solomon...if we know what's wise,
we should depart.
A moment longer Solomon and Patsey hold each other. They
separate, Solomon heading back to the carriage. He and
Parker alight. The Sheriff chides the horses and they
168 CONTINUED: (6) 168
start up. As they move on, Patsey sinks down to the
ground, where she remains in a weary and half-reclining
state, the other slaves around her.
WE STAY WITH Solomon as he travels further and further
from the slaves - who are diminished by distance.
Solomon waves a hand to them, but the carriage rounds a
bend and a thicket of trees hides them from his eyes
EXT. NORTHUP HOUSE - DAY
We now see Solomon in front of a door. A door we have
seen before at the very beginning of our story. Solomon,
aged significantly since then, stands nervously,
swallowing, and adjusting his attire. He breaths in and
holds his breath. He blows out and closes his eyes. A
tear falls from his cheek, but this is not the way he
wants his family to see him. He gathers himself, and
looks to his right. There stands Mr. Parker. He places
his hand on Solomon's shoulder. He says gently-
Are you ready?
Solomon swallows and nods.
INT. NORTHUP HOUSE - LATER
THE DOOR TO THE ROOM OPENS. Mr. Parker enters, Solomon
behind. We first see Anne, in her finest attire; the
Northup children: Alonzo, who is now seventeen and
Margaret who is now twenty - SHE CARRIES WITH HER A
BUNDLE. Also present is MARGARET'S HUSBAND. The family
waits patiently, dutifully...but anxiously.
Anne rises to greet him, but holds back. All around, the
body language of the family is stiff and awkward. They
are, after all - after twelve years - little more than
I apologize for my appearance. I
have had a difficult time of
things these past many years.
Solomon looks among his family; trying to recall them as
much as they look to see familiarity within him. To his
Alonzo... Margaret, yes? You do
not recognize me, do you? Do
169 CONTINUED: 169
you...do you even remember the
last time we saw each other? I
put you on a carriage with your
Margaret, tearing, hugs her father. Solomon almost
breaks, but he keeps himself together. Looking to the
And who is this?
He is my husband.
It is very good to meet you, sir.
We have much acquainting to do.
Margaret rises, she presents her bundle to her father.
And this is your grandson.
Solomon Northup Staunton.
The fact his grandson carries his name, is overwhelming.
Solomon breaks down. Emotionally, physically... But
ANNE IS THERE TO CATCH HIM. As she holds him, Solomon
says to Anne with all his heart:
There is nothing to forgive.
The pair, joined now by the whole family, hold on to each
other for life...and one would think for all the rest of
Upon gaining his freedom, Solomon Northup located and
attempted to seek legal justice against the men who
kidnapped him. The case was tried in Washington, DC
where blacks were prohibited by law from testifying
169 CONTINUED: (2) 169
against whites. The charges against the kidnappers were
Northup spent the rest of his life working as an
abolitionist, and with the Underground Railroad.
Solomon Northup most likely died between 1863 and 1875.
The exact date, place, and circumstances of his death
- END -
12 Years a Slave
Writers : John Ridley
Genres : Drama