Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

12 Years a Slave (2013)


Written by Tim Dirks

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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

12 Years a Slave (2013)

In Steve McQueen's Best Picture-winning historical dramatization based upon the account of a freed black who was returned to slavery in the 1840s-50s:

  • the devastating, torturous scene of the beating of the bare back of black slave Patsey (Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong'o), when cruel slave owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) forced another slave, Platt/Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to whip her; at first, Epps told Patsey: ("You done this to yourself, Pats"), and then Mistress Epps (Sarah Paulson) spurred him on: ("Do it. Strike the life from her"); not able to whip her himself, Epps ordered Platt to take his place: ("Beat her. Give her the whip! Give it all to her! Platt, you come here and you beat her now. Platt! Come here!...You strike her. Strike her!"); but then, Mistress Epps complained that Platt wasn't striking her hard enough: ("He pantomimes. There's barely a welt on her. That's what your all niggers make of you... a fool for the takin'); Epps became angered and held a gun to Platt's head: ("Strike her, Platt. Strike her! You will strike her. You will strike her until her flesh is rent and meat and blood flow equal... or I will kill every nigger in my sight. You understand me? Strike her! Strike her! Until I say no more. I ain't said nothin'"); then, Epps grabbed the whip and whipped Patsey himself, until she ceased struggling and responding, and her back was terribly lacerated, literally flayed, and the lash was wet with blood. Platt yelled out to Epps: ("Thou devil! Sooner or later, somewhere in the course of eternal justice thou shalt answer for this sin!"). Epps replied: ("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 further")


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