Southern United States in the first half of the 19th century---a stronghold of black slavery and of those who practice it..... Northern United States in the same period---a part where slavery has been abolished.... The blacks in the northern part are are free men at least---though doubtlessly they still have to suffer some racism even in a free state like New York.... But above all , they still are under the shadow of being kidnapped by unscrupulous men to the south where slavery still exists and suffer the horror of their lives being changed from a life of dignity and freedom to one of unimaginable horror in an instant.... This film is based on the real life story of one of them---Solomon Northup , a musician by profession from Saratoga in the free north who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south after being drugged and his identity papers stolen by men posing to require his services as musician . Chiwetel Ejiofor has acted as Solomon Northup in this film ,and he has certainly brought the character of Northup alive on screen.... Also brought alive on screen is the well known fact that slavery is a fate worse than death.... Indeed as a black slave tries to save a black woman from being raped but is killed for that , another slave feels that he has been freed from the life of indignity and horror that the others are going to go through.... And that horror is accompanied by degradation and humiliation of both the mental and physical kind.... Scenes of a mother and her children being separated because both have been sold to separate slave owners and the mother bawling for her kids rend your heart.... But this is outclassed by some mind blowing callousness by her new owner's wife---'' Oh poor dear , you will soon forget them !! '' , she says ( or at least something like that ).... Female slaves are of course prey to the master's lust and get repeatedly raped.... And as if this is not enough they get insulted and ill treated by the master's wife who is jealous that her husband lusts for someone else.... Attempt of escape from this hell is punished by scourging with long whips that produce terrible wounds on the back.... But those who don't try to escape are scourged too anyway---as Solomon discovers when he impresses his master to the chagrin of his immediate boss who feels that the master favours Solomon over him and whips him savagely....His attempt to fight back nearly lands him in the noose.... The people involved in the slave trade are masters of cruel hypocrisy---the slaves are stripped naked for being shown to potential buyers and cruel haggling is done for money which will be used to buy up the entire lives of the victims....and all this while the sellers and buyers speak in super polite and correct english as if they are gentlemen.... But what takes the cake is the manner in which Christianity and God is used to justify slavery---masses are held by slave owners where they read the Bible in front of their slaves and verses are read which seemingly endorse slavery ; masses which the slaves are required to diligently attend.... As for myself , I stopped believing in God after seeing all this.... Solomon , who has been degraded to a new name ( Platt ) tries desperately to hold on to some shreds of dignity and hope amidst all this by trying to smuggle a letter to the north to bring out his true identity papers proving that he is in reality a free man.... And his only succor could come from some decent white men who believe slavery to be a wrong---yes , even in the south such men do exist.... So can he escape to freedom with or without their help ?? watch the movie for that.... To be honest it's an ordeal to watch this movie , for it's not easy to watch live human beings undergo what is nothing but torture.... But it should be remembered that this is no fiction , that real people had to live and endure lives like this---and for that purpose seeing this film is important.... But you require some spine to watch this film.... Acting by everyone is first class , and the only question is---how many Oscars will it win ?? Verdict---Good .