Haunted by so many painful and well-hidden secrets, the former slave, Sethe, is bent on turning over a new leaf, and finding freedom for the sake of her children. Out of the blue, as Sethe struggles to grapple with her troubled past in her humble home somewhere in post-Civil-War Cincinnati, Paul D, an old familiar from the Kentucky farm euphemistically called Sweet Home, re-enters Sethe's life, eager to lend her a hand. Then, a stranger arrives in the shape of a mysterious young woman, giving rise to a series of repressed memories. But, who's that feral girl? Can Paul D help Sethe reinvent herself?Written by
That girl... Beloved. She really gone, like they say?
Haven't seen her since that way. Mama say she gone. She can feel it.
You think she was sure enough your sister?
Sometimes. Other times... I think she was more.
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In lieu of traditional opening credits, the movie begins with the camera moving through a cemetery to focus on a gravestone engraved with the sole word "BELOVED". See more »
In the version aired on television there is a deleted scene and two alternate scenes. The TV version also removes any mention of Sethe's sons. They don't exist in the TV version.
The first alternate scene is when Paul D is telling Sethe about Halle being in the loft. In the theatrical you see Paul D quoting Halle. In the TV version there is a flashback to Halle (Hill Harper) saying "The loft."
The second alternate scene in the prayer group discussing how to deal with Sethe being haunted by Beloved. In the theatrical there is a line about Sethe being like batter. In the Tv version that is removed and there is a line inserted from another woman saying "I don't mind a little communication between worlds but this is invasion" and another character says "we better get to work and pray"
The deleted scene added for the TV version has Stamp Paid asking Paul D if beloved is his problem and not what Sethe did. See more »
I found it difficult to understand the movie, and some of the dialogue, but it mattered little. I wish I'd read the book--perhaps I will, but I don't think so. A film must stand by itself, or it is not a film.
"Beloved" has long passages of greatness. First, it contains one of the best and most fascinating performances I've seen in years, given by Thandie Newton. She spent most of "Gridlock'd" in a coma, unfortunately, and that's the most notable role she's had until this one. Her first speaking (if you'll call it that) line is gripping, frightening, and amusing, and she plays a mental defective in a manner which I've never seen before. She has the loudest, rudest character, and many actresses would be put off by some of the things she must do throughout the film. However, our attention is also held by her quiet moments, as well as a few shots where the camera is content to gaze tranquilly into her beautiful eyes.
That camera is conducted with the supreme artistry of one of my favorite photographers, Tak Fujimoto, who was with director Jonathan Demme since the late '70s. Fujimoto is in love with earth and flesh tones here, but he also shoots his actors' eyes as if they were a part of the human body we'd never really noticed before, and wanted to give them the attention they deserved. It's a great approach to cinematography that pays off an infinite number of times, from the first major shot, of Sethe and Paul D reuniting (as Winfrey and Glover look at each other, they look not just into the camera, but directly into OUR eyes), to the last major shot, Jason Robards (God love him) staring in horror at a most unusual scene in front of Sethe's home.
This film is no "The Color Purple", with Welles-influenced camera angles and sacchirine-induced uplift. "Beloved" is a long, difficult, often off-putting film which doesn't really provide the big payoff at the end. This isn't necessarily good, but it isn't necessarily bad, either. Highlighted sequences include two truly remarkable sermons in the woods by Baby Suggs (Beah Richards--Oscar-nominated in '68 for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?"), a horrifying opening which features the most gruesome use of animatronics to date, and the notorious flashback which explain what has haunted Sethe all these years, and who Beloved really is.
I compare this film with "The Thin Red Line". Both come from notable directors, are based on famous novels, used huge budgets, and were very long. Both films disappointed many, many people. Most importantly, however, they both had parts which were greater than the whole, occasional strokes of genius, and were made by men who took the art of filmmaking seriously.
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