"12 Years A Slave," directed by Steve McQueen, is based on the true account written by Solomon Northup and published in 1853. Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a freeborn black man, violinist, carpenter and family man living in New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery. This powerful, wrenching film lays bare the hideous cruelty and farcical legal system under which so many suffered. There are scenes that are difficult but necessary to watch, including prolonged whippings tearing into flesh for the most minor of infractions. One realizes that this exploitation of human beings as "property" formed the basis of Southern prosperity and put the lie to the region's "gentility" and "hospitality." Northrup eventually ends up on the plantation of the sadistic Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) and his equally unhinged wife Mary (Sarah Paulson), who are in conflict over Epps' attraction to the slave Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), resulting in agony for the latter. As the title implies, Northup's ordeal comes to an end after 12 years, but the viewer is aware of the many who were left behind in unrelieved bondage.