12 Years a Slave is the harrowing true story of a black man born free in the North and then kidnapped as an adult, dragged to the South, and sold into slavery. Leaving behind a wife who assumed him dead, and pressed into brutal work, it was twelve years before Solomon Northup managed to find someone he trusted enough to smuggle letters to his wife. Northup was freed in an ensuing court case, although of course he himself was not allowed to testify. Following his return to the North, Northup published in 1853 his account of his experiences in the biographical 12 Years a Slave.
That account is in the public domain at this point, and available on Google Books, among a few other choice online collections. Wikipedia has a nice little summary with a few more details than I cribbed above. The work has gotten a bit more press lately, because it’s now been tapped for a film adaptation, with some particularly intriguing names attached.
Brad Pitt is producing, and Steve McQueen (not the dead actor, the live director who made Hunger) will be directing and co-writing the script with John Ridley (Red Tails). Chiwetel Ejiofor will be starring as Solomon Northup, so they’ve also got that going for them.
I’m not going to lie, this news makes me very happy. I have nothing snarky to say, except that I wish I’d stumbled across this a year ago for Pajiba Storytellers just so that now I could say they got the idea from us. Because I totally would. And we would totally sue them but we’d settle for a tasteful amount so that the movie could go on unhindered but it’d be enough that Dustin wouldn’t have to run full-screen ads anymore even though he still would so that we could keep our street cred and me and Brad Pitt would be best friends and fight aliens. And that’s why we’re going to keep doing Storytellers.