7.2/10
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18 user 1 critic

Sally Hemings: An American Scandal (2000)

Epic television miniseries exploring the complicated relationship of Thomas Jefferson and slave Sally Hemings, who conducted a 38 year love affair, spanning an ocean, ultimately producing children, grandchildren, and lots of controversy.

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3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

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Thomas Mann Randolph (as Zeljko Ivanek)
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Jessica Townsend ...
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Henry Jackson (as Larry Gilliard Jr.)
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Peter Bradbury ...
Chris Stafford ...
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Storyline

The story of the extraordinary, controversial thirty-eight-year relationship between Thomas Jefferson and his slave mistress, Sally Hemings. The teenage Sally begins her unexpected relationship with widower Thomas Jefferson in Paris where he is serving as the U.S. Ambassador to France. After escorting Jefferson's younger daughter on a trans-Atlantic journey to join him in Paris, Sally is soon exposed to a world quite unlike the one in which she has lived as an illiterate slave in Monticello. While Sally serves as a nanny of sorts, Jefferson provides her with an education, fine clothes and opportunities to experience cultural events. She and her brother, James, who works as Jefferson's chef and was also educated by him, delight in the fact that they are free in France-and are treated with respect. It is under these circumstances that Sally and Jefferson become acquainted with one another and begin an affair that will ultimately lead to scandal. Written by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

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Taglines:

Bound by Slavery. Freed by Love. See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

13 February 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Monticello  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Early in the film, when Thomas Jefferson (Sam Neill) tells Sally Hemings (Carmen Ejogo) that she looks exactly like his deceased wife, this is a reference to Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson being the half sister of Sally Hemings, sharing the same father, John Wayles. Martha was Wayles' acknowledged daughter by his first wife, Martha Eppes, and Sally was Wayles' daughter by his slave concubine, Betty Hemings (portrayed by Diahann Carroll), with whom he had six slave children. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Sally Hemings: I was born a slave, but destined to scandal.
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Crazy Credits

ON SCREEN: Not until 1998 when DNA tests were conducted, was their relationship finally verified. See more »

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User Reviews

Can't they ever get it right?
11 May 2000 | by (Iowa Falls, IA) – See all my reviews

Personally I'm tired of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, what's so shocking about a man taking a mistress whether they are white, black, purple or green. Why is Jefferson put on this golden pedestal? What's so shocking about finding out that this man ascending to heaven had flesh just like everyone else.

Personally, I came away feeling angry about the movie. Can't people to any more research than what they do? James Callender was scrupulous, yes, but he was a reporter and jailed under the Alien and Sedition Acts. He could have been reward a little from his trouble, after all Jefferson couldn't be happier when he was publishing his History of 1797 against the Federalists. If it wasn't for James Callender we probably wouldn't even be seeing this movie and the gossip that came of it would have died a gradual death. Next is Dolly Madison. Did any of those people actually look at a picture of Dolly Madison? She had black hair not red and that table scene when James Callender was asking her about her and Aaron Burr in New York. She wasn't even in New York; she was in Philadelphia burying a husband and a son from the yellow fever epidemic. There were other things I could point out as well but the average person doesn't realize the mistakes and that's what makes me so angry.

I see historical movies and how they botch things up makes me so mad and what I get angry over is the fact that people see these movies and believe what they see. They don't bother to look for themselves to find the truth.

Besides the great criticism I did enjoy Sam Neil as Jefferson I thought his manner seemed fitting, better than Nick Nolte in Jefferson in Paris. Mare Winningham was perhaps the best as Martha Jefferson constantly struggling between the duties of a mistress of the plantation, daughter to her father, and his relationship with Sally. When it was all over, it was entertaining and that is the number one motive behind this movie.


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