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Rodrick F. Wimberly
Beginning during the racial turmoil of 1960s Louisiana, 110-year-old ex-slave Jane Pittman grants an interview to a persistent journalist and relates the remarkable story of her life. Orphaned early, she toils on a plantation until a chance meeting with a white Union soldier named Brown changes her outlook. Jane's emancipation marks only the beginning of an arduous and heartbreaking odyssey, framed by the horrors of slavery and the justice of the civil rights movement.Written by
This was a made for TV movie based on the Jane Pittman novels. Despite playing as if Miss Jane was a real person who lived to be 110, I can assure you that it is indeed fiction. However, like Forrest Gump, Miss Jane was a fictional character who was woven into the real American events that defined the Black-American experience for the first hundred years after emancipation. Unlike Gump, this movie has much more significance and poignancy--making it an exceptional film to illustrate history and social change to subsequent generations.
The film begins with a White reporter coming to see Miss Jane and learn about her long and interesting life. This is set against the backdrop of the coming of the Freedom Marchers into the rural South--as several around Miss Jane have been jailed or worse for demanding equality. Miss Jane's recollections begin shortly before the end of the Civil War and demonstrate how this struggle and yearning for rights is not new, but part of a long and gut-wrenching process that has taken her entire life.
The film deserves great praise on so many levels. The novels and script are simply superb writing. Cicely Tyson did an incredibly job playing both a younger Miss Jane and a hundred year-plus character as well. To make all this possible, makeup and prosthetics were used that even today would be admirable. And the direction, music, supporting acting all come together to make a beautiful and very touching film.
About the only negatives I can think of are that the film was too short and I would have preferred to see it as a mini-series--it was THAT good! Also, the problems and race relations talked about in the film are rather superficial due to these time constraints. Many characters aren't well hashed out because there is only so much you can say in 150 minutes about a time period spanning 100 years. Despite these minor problems, see this film--it's a must for anyone wanting to see great film making as well as learn how far we have traveled. Plus, it does pack a mighty powerful punch.
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