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12 Years a Slave (score)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

12 Years a Slave is the original soundtrack album to the 2013 film 12 Years a Slave starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, and Lupita Nyong'o. The record contains twenty-one tracks from the original film score written and composed by Hans Zimmer. Despite its limited release, critical acclaim has been given to the score from the film industry. The score was nominated for the 2013 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score,[1] and won the 2013 Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association award for Best Score.[2]

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  • ✪ 12 YEARS A SLAVE - Official Trailer (HD)
  • ✪ 12 YEARS A SLAVE Featurette: "The Score"
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  • ✪ 12 YEARS A SLAVE Featurette: A Director's Vision
  • ✪ 12 Years A Slave - How Steve McQueen Uses Violence




Having been interested in each other's work for some time, director Steve McQueen approached composer Hans Zimmer to write the score to 12 Years a Slave after filming had completed, explaining, "We had a mysterious conversation a couple of years back where [McQueen] told me he was working on something and asked me if I was even remotely interested in working with him,” says Zimmer. [3] Zimmer, however, expressed reluctance to accept the offer feeling he wasn't the right person for the job. Zimmer explained, "I felt I wasn't the guy, in a way. It was such an important, heavy, incredible subject. [...] It took a bit of persuading from [McQueen] to give me the confidence to do it".[4] On April 30, 2013, it was officially announced that Zimmer was scoring the film.[5]


Director Steve McQueen liked the mood of Zimmer’s music from The Thin Red Line, which itself became a starting point for discussion and development regarding the mood for 12 Years a Slave. McQueen explained, "He was my refuge when I was in L.A. The first two meetings were about five hours each. Then I think we had three two-hour conversations on the phone. And not a musical note was played. After that, [Zimmer] said, ‘I think I’ve got something.’ Somehow, through the talking, he captured the atmosphere of the film."[6]

Much of the movie is scored with the same four-note theme, which Zimmer adapted according to the scene's mood and emotion. [3] For the score of 12 Years a Slave, Zimmer conceded, "It's basically a cello and violin score. I wanted to be the secret little bridge that would take the story from the past and move it into the present."

Cellist Tristan Schulze and violinist Ann Marie Calhoun performed on the score in addition to more strings and occasional percussion involved throughout the process. "It was not just getting inside the characters," Zimmer said, "it was getting outside the characters and finding a bridge to the audience." Much of the 38-minute score "creates a stillness, or a tension through the stillness, using very minimal means," he added, although the riverboat ride offers a briefly avant-garde musical contrast, including woodwinds and an unusual use of piano.

The original score was released by Fox Searchlight as part of the For Your Consideration campaign aimed towards members of awards voting groups such as that of the Academy Awards, and the Hollywood Foreign Press of the Golden Globes.

Track listing

All tracks are written by Hans Zimmer[7].

1."Solomon Northup"1:55
2."Main Title"0:28
4."Arrival in Washington"0:24
5."Solomon in Chains"5:03
6."Preparing for Travel"1:00
7."Boat Trip to New Orleans"5:14
8."Saragota Flashback"2:12
9."River Rafting Claps"1:05
10."Eliza Flashback"1:45
11."Escape Sequence"1:19
12."Time Passing Sequence"1:32
13."Devasted Crops"0:51
14."Plantation Life (Part A)"0:59
15."Plantation Life (Part B)"0:56
16."Judge Yarney's Ball"1:10
17."Letter Writing"0:52
18."Solomon Burns the Letter"1:06
20."A Free Man"2:12
21."Nothing to Forgive – End Credits"3:32
Total length:38:48


Immediate reception

The score was widely admired and thought of as a contender for the Academy Award for Best Original Score at the 86th Academy Awards.[8][9][10] Yet, the score failed to receive a nomination for the 86th Academy Awards. However, the film did receive a nomination for the 2013 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, as well as a win for the 2013 Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Score.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Film Music Media5/5 stars[11]

Christopher Orr of The Atlantic praised the score most highly stating, "the score by Hans Zimmer represents his best work in years, an eerie, discomfiting soundscape that buzzes like angry locusts and drums like approaching thunder." [12] Mark Kermode of The Observer highlights the significance of music in the piece writing, "More significant still is the role of music (composer Hans Zimmer earned one of the film's 10 Bafta nominations this week), with McQueen building upon the experiments of Shame to explore further the dramatic depths of song" [13] Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine praised the score and said "The film's immaculate score, by Hans Zimmer, and sound design, so thick with thunder, wind, the chirping of crickets, hammers beating nails into wood, whips tearing black bodies to shreds, work in tandem to strongly convey the bucolic, sinister atmosphere of the antebellum South."[14]

Gregory Ellwood of HitFix called it "one of Hans Zimmer’s more moving scores in some time" [15] Brad Brevet of Rope of Silicon also praised the score in stating, "The best score in a movie I have heard this year has been Hans Zimmer's for 12 Years a Slave." and further stating "It's lovely and threatening at the same time." [16] A.A. Dowd of The A.V. Club wrote of Zimmer's score, "pounds and roars with dread — the appropriate soundtrack for the madness of history." [17] Mark Hughes of Forbes hails the piece as "some of [Zimmer's] best work to date, which says quite a lot" and further expands by expressing "I love the way he uses nontraditional effects and sounds, sometimes going bare-bones and simple with a single instrument, so often understated to perfection." [18]

Susan Wloszczyna of stated "Underscoring the cruelty is the aptly unsettling and sometimes discordant soundtrack by Hans Zimmer" but nothing similarities with Zimmer's predescending score for Inception whilst acknowledging differentiation in "reminiscent of his own strong work on "Inception" but to much different effect". [19] Glenn Kay of CinemaStance wrote positively by stating, "the score by Hans Zimmer is sparse and repetitive, but incredibly effective at invoking an emotional response when it’s used." [20] Drew McWeeny of HitFix highly praised the score and said, "The score by Hans Zimmer is just as heart-breaking as the script or the performances." [21]

Nicholas Mennuti of Mulholland Books highly praised the score, calling it one of the best film scores of 2013, stating, "His [Zimmer] work on 12 Years A Slave comes as such a pleasant surprise" and then adding, "Zimmer does what Zimmer does best – he finds the sonic heart of Solomon Northrop ... Try not to be moved by it." [22] Josh Hall of Soton Tab professed of the score, "Another impressive element of 12 Years a Slave is Hans Zimmer’s haunting score; it closely accompanies the distressing tragedies on the screen." and added to it further by signifying the importance of music, "Music is a key element of the film; it is ironic that it is Solomon’s musical talents that get him captured in the first place." [23] Richard Lawson of The Wire praised the mood of Zimmer's piece by saying, "Hans Zimmer's lush score is at first eerie and foreboding, but by the movie's end has become something approaching a hymn." [24]

Awards and nominations

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients and nominees Result
Alliance of Women Film Journalists[25] December 19, 2013 Best Music or Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Awards Circuit Community Awards[26] February 28, 2014 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Black Reel Awards[27] February 13, 2014 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Won
Boston Online Film Critics Association[28] December 7, 2013 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Won
British Academy Film Awards[29][30] February 16, 2014 Best Original Music Hans Zimmer Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association[31][32] January 16, 2014 Best Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association[33] January 2, 2014 Best Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association[34][35] December 16, 2013 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Denver Film Critics Society[36] January 13, 2014 Best Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association[37] January 10, 2014 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Gold Derby Awards[38] February 26, 2014 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[39] January 12, 2014 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society[40] December 15, 2013 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Indiana Film Critics Association[41] December 16, 2013 Best Musical Score Hans Zimmer Won
International Cinephile Society Awards[42] February 23, 2014 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Las Vegas Film Critics Society[43] December 18, 2013 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society[44][45] December 17, 2013 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society[46] December 11, 2013 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Satellite Awards[47] February 23, 2014 Best Original Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association[48] December 16, 2013 Best Musical Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Stockholm International Film Festival[49] November 14, 2013 Best Film Music Hans Zimmer Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association[50] December 9, 2013 Best Score Hans Zimmer Won


  1. ^ "2014 Golden Globe Awards'". Golden Globes. January 12, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  2. ^ "The 2013 WAFCA Awards". January 12, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Hans Zimmer Tells Juicy Stories About the Classic Films He's Scored". Fox Searchlight. November 5, 2013. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
  4. ^ Weintraub, Steve (October 20, 2013). "Hans Zimmer Talks 12 YEARS A SLAVE, the Importance of the Film, Akiva Goldsman's WINTER'S TALE, Reflections on Ridley Scott's HANNIBAL, and More". Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  5. ^ "Hans Zimmer Scoring Steve McQueen's 'Twelve Years a Slave'". Film Music Reporter. April 30, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
  6. ^ "Zimmer's Tale of Two Scores". Variety. November 7, 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
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  8. ^ "2014 Oscar Predictions Best Original Score". AwardsCircuit. January 7, 2014. Archived from the original on 2013-10-30. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  9. ^ "Oscar Predictions: Best Original Score". IndieWire. January 13, 2014. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  10. ^ "The 2014 Oscar Nominations: Good, Bad, and Crazy". The Atlantic. January 16, 2014. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  11. ^ Kaya Savas (January 8, 2014). "Film Music Media". Film Music Media. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  12. ^ "The Searing, Visceral 12 Years a Slave". TotalFilm. October 18, 2013. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  13. ^ "Review: 12 Years a Slave – review". The Guardian. January 12, 2014. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  14. ^ [http "12 Years A Slave"]. Fox Searchlight. September 13, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2013.
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  20. ^ "Oscar Watch: 12 YEARS A SLAVE Among the Best Films in Recent Memory". CinemaStance. November 1, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  21. ^ "Review: Emotionally raw '12 Years A Slave' is true-life horror film of the highest order". HitFix. October 11, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  22. ^ "Review:Nicholas Mennuti's 11 Best Film Scores of 2013". Mulholland Books. January 14, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
  23. ^ "Review:REVIEW: '12 Years a Slave'". Soton Tab. January 20, 2014. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  24. ^ "Review:REVIEW:The Brutal Beauty of '12 Years a Slave'". The Wire. September 16, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  25. ^ "2013 EDA Award Winners". Alliance of Women Film Journalists. December 11, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  26. ^ "ACCA 2013 Nominations Announced – '12 Years a Slave' and 'Her' Lead With Eleven". Awards Circuit Community Editors. February 10, 2014. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  27. ^ "The 14th Annual Black Reel Awards Nominations". December 18, 2013. Retrieved December 22, 2013.
  28. ^ Chitwood, Adama (December 7, 2013). "12 YEARS A SLAVE Sweeps Boston Online Film Critics Awards with Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Supporting Actress". Collider. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  29. ^ "12 Years A Slave actress up for Bafta Rising Star award site". BBC. January 6, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  30. ^ Reynolds, Simon; Harris, Jamie (January 8, 2014). "BAFTA Film Awards 2014 - nominations in full". Digital Spy. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  31. ^ "American Hustle, 12 Years A Slave Lead BFCA's Critics Choice Movie Awards Nominations". Deadline Hollywood. December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  32. ^ "Critics' Choice Awards: The Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. January 17, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  33. ^ Rutecki, Jared (December 29, 2013). "Central Ohio Film Critics announce awards nominees". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
  34. ^ Stone, Sasha (December 13, 2013). "12 Years a Slave Leads Chicago Film Critics Association". Awards Daily. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  35. ^ Gire, Dann (December 17, 2013). "Chicago film critics name '12 Years a Slave' 2013's best movie". The Daily Herald. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  36. ^ Adams, Ryan (January 6, 2014). "Denver Film Critics Society Nominations". Awards Dauily. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  37. ^ McAllister, Cameron (January 6, 2014). "Georgia Film Critics announce nominees for 2013 awards". Reelga. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  38. ^ Gold Derby (February 26, 2014). "'12 Years a Slave' wins Best Picture at Gold Derby Awards, but 'Gravity' is biggest winner". Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  39. ^ Hollywood Foreign Press Association (January 12, 2014). "The 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards". Archived from the original on March 30, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  40. ^ "12 Years a Slave wins Pic, Cuaron Director for Houston Film Critics". Awards Daily. Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  41. ^ Bloom, Bob (December 16, 2013). "12 Years a Slave honored by Hoosier film critics". JCOnline. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  42. ^ "Blue is the Warmest Color, Inside Llweyn Davis, Her, 12 Years a Slave top ICS Award Nominees". ICS Film. January 10, 2014. Archived from the original on February 15, 2014. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  43. ^ Davis, Clayton (December 18, 2013). "Las Vegas Film Critics Award '12 Years a Slave', John Goodman Gets Lifetime Achievement Award". The Awards Circuit. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  44. ^ "Phoenix Film Critics Society 2013 Award Nominations". Phoenix Film Critics Society. Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
  45. ^ "Phoenix Film Critics Society 2013 Awards". Phoenix Film Critics Society. December 17, 2013. Archived from the original on December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  46. ^ "San Diego Film Critics Nominate Top Films for 2013". San Diego Film Critics Society. December 10, 2013. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2013.
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