By James Davidson
The new movie, “Harriet” depicts the life of American hero, Harriet Tubman. The film, based on her life, follows Harriet’s escape from slavery to freedom in Philadelphia, and her resolve to return and free her friends and family from a life of enslavement. Cyntia Erivo plays the heroine, who suffers from seizures or “spells”. During these “spells”, Harriet receives visions of the future that she believes are sent to her by God. She uses the visions to return to the southern United States over 10 times to help other slaves escape slave hunters to freedom in Canada.
Harriet Tubman is a true American heroine and the story of her life is truly incredible, I was really hoping that this movie would do justice in telling her story and drive more people to become interested in learning about this amazing woman. I think, for the most part, this movie does exactly that.
While the movie takes some liberties with history, as most films do, the majority of the facts in this movie seem accurate, if not a little exaggerated. From everything that I have read about Harriet Tubman, she seems to be portrayed accurately by Cyntia Erivo. For instance, the real Harriet did have fainting spells and visions caused by a head injury that she sustained as a young girl. However, I’m not sure if those visions helped her avoid detection as it was depicted in the movie. Either way, this is a great movie and I don’t think the liberties taken by the filmmakers to “dramatize” events take anything away from this great story. For a fictionalized movie based on true events, it seems to be surprisingly accurate. I expected a lot more dramatization than what was in the film.
This film is obviously set in the late 1800s in Maryland, and the movie does an amazing job at transporting the audience to that location and time period. A lot of the scenes looked like they could have been taken right out of a history book and were very believable, none of them looked fake or artificially created.
The cast in this movie is very strong, and all of them do a good job at depicting the characters they were portraying. Some of the characters are entirely fictional, made up to serve as a placeholder for multiple people who helped Harriet throughout her journey, others were real people. All of them are strong characters who are depicted well by their respective actors and they instill emotion in the audience.
This movie will invoke a lot of emotion from the audience. Whether real or dramatized, the events that Harriet experienced in the film were typical of that time and to see somebody overcome those events and become the strong, courageous woman we are all familiar with is inspiring.
This movie is rated PG-13 for thematic content throughout, violent material and language, including racial slurs. It is probably not appropriate for small children, especially considering some of the thematic elements and racial slurs are very intense. However, this is a story that people of all ages should learn more about and this film is a good starting point. Even if it isn’t 100% accurate, this is a good way to start learning more about this part of history and researching what is factual and what has been dramatized. Many people can learn a lot about a story they might not have known about before.
“Harriet” is a fantastic period film that depicts the life of a truly amazing woman. While it might be a bit dramatized, it’s still a great emotionally-driven movie that is incredibly entertaining. I will definitely watch this movie again and add it to my collection. It also made me more curious to learn more about this amazing person. It earns 5 out of 5 stars.