The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America's greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.
In a Tunisian village, children are playing football on a wasteland. Meanwhile, Abdallah and Mohammed come across a donkey with headphones on his ears and bags full of a white powder on his... See full summary »
Mohamed Ali Ayari,
Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, Harriet tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America's greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.Written by
It's a wonder why it took so long to produce a silver screen film about one of the most daring and history-impacting women in American history. Not only did Harriet Tubman escape a tyrannical form of slavery, but she also helped many others escape. A woman of short stature, Harriet risked her life countless times utilizing the network - and almost secret society - of The Underground Railroad to transport slaves to Philadelphia where they would be free. The canvas provided to create a film of grandiose proportions was there, but in my opinion, the story itself became the film's enemy.
The film begins in a field that belies what's really happening. The Brodess family is hosting a small religious sermon by Reverend Green, directed to their slaves. It seems amicable, but things turn sour rather quick, when Harriet (although she's not Harriet until she's a free woman) and her free husband request freedom so their future children can be born free. What ensues is a chain of events that leads Harriet to escape, return and free more of her people.
Cynthia Erivo performs great as Harriet, and this film is simply a platform for her career. The other performance that is enigmatic, but it's a minor role, is that of Janelle Monáe as Marie Buchanon - a born-free woman in Philadelphia who owns a building that houses recently free slaves. She is beautiful and ignorant of the struggles slaves face, and her actions towards the end of the film is climactic.
Here are my issues with the film. The story of slavery is one we all know since grade school. We learn nothing new from this film. Let's take for reference the 2000 film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe. Gladiators were slaves and fought to attain freedom. Maximus knows he's a slave, but his agenda is different. He doesn't care about being free. The idea of being free is deconstructed by the events that surround him. All Maximus wants is revenge. This resonates with us, and we can connect with him because when someone betrays us we want revenge. Maybe we will not act upon those urges, but the core of us desire that. Harriet's story is permanently etched in history. And it is what it is. And because of this I understand the film is limited with liberties. But rather than tap into more of the emotional struggles Harriet should be haunted by, the film catapults her into a more mythical creature, a superhero. Tony Starks would recruit her as an Avenger, especially with her mental intuitions she has - an ability that allows her to foresee the immediate future. History claims that Harriet suffered from seizures after having her head split open when she was thirteen, but a seizure is not a superpower.
Although this film didn't quite involve me, the issue at hand is one that doesn't seem to have a foreseeable end: racism. The film is saturated with derogatory racial terms, and physical abuse. Although the main antagonist, Gideon Brodess, is evil, his role becomes too cartoonish ... but we still hate him. A better film, I believe, that is one that will deal with similar issues is the forthcoming Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan.
Overall grade: C
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