It’s like the Bwog Book Club, but with movies! In this first edition, Staff Writer Victoria Borlando reviews the new film, Harriet.
Rating: 10/10 (mainly for historical accuracy)
Recommended for: People who love American History, badass women, Southern accents, great movie soundtracks, or Leslie Odom Jr.
Summary: Harriet focuses on Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery, leadership in the Underground Railroad project, and achievements in leading over 700 slaves to freedom before and during the Civil War. Moreover, this movie includes a personal account, highlighting Tubman’s relationships with her friends and family, battles with narcolepsy, and awareness of the political tensions around her in both the North and the South.
Review: I went to an early premiere of this movie on October 16th mainly because Harriet Tubman is my favorite historical figure (and she will be yours too after watching this movie), and my sister (a SAG member) had a +1 ticket for an early screening with a Q&A session with the actors and directors. And yes, that included Sir Aaron Burr himself (aka Leslie Odom Jr. for those of you who skipped the Hamilton phenomenon). I also had Lit Hum the next day and didn’t feel like reading for that.
From a historical perspective, this movie does an excellent job of portraying Harriet Tubman as a no-nonsense, independent, intelligent, fearless woman. The movie Harriet, essentially, brings a collection of research on a person in history to life. While reading a biography or textbook excerpt about Harriet Tubman is recommended (because you can always learn more about a cool person!), Harriet could be considered, in my opinion, a detailed and reliable resource. The movie included much about her personal life gathered from different letters and William Still’s Underground Railroad Records, and it preserved distinct racial tensions found in both the North and South during the time, especially when discussing the Fugitive Slave Act. The characters in the movie accurately reflected the people in Harriet’s life. So, as a history major and Harriet Tubman enthusiast, I approve!
From an entertainment perspective, the cast was chosen perfectly. Cynthia Erivo brought the persona of Harriet Tubman back to life, giving the audience an emotional, human side of a person known for her determination and strong will. Her excellent acting, alongside her incredible vocals, effectively communicates the hardship the real Harriet Tubman encountered when dealing with leaving her family and husband behind, traveling alone in the darkness, and confronting her former slave owner. Leslie Odom Jr. (how could I not talk about him) brings lightheartedness to an otherwise heavy story, giving soul to Philadelphia abolitionist, businessman, writer, historian, and civil rights activist William Still. Lastly, the film has Janelle Monae (as Marie Buchanon) as a Philadelphian single woman owning a whole hotel! She’s a classy, rich feminist who managed a business AND sacrificed her life to save the life of another badass woman! Incredible!
Overall, I would definitely make the trip to your favorite theatre and watch Harriet. It’s an entertaining movie about an entertaining person, and you’ll walk out of the theatre feeling empowered and amazed at how much one single person changed the course of American history. Also, who knows! She might inspire you as much as she did for me!
Harriet officially premieres November 1st nationwide. Make sure to check the showtimes at your favorite theatre and plan a fun activity for your fall break!
Also, I’d say that some of the stuff mentioned are spoilers, but…they happened a really long time ago….
Film Reel from the Ancient World of the 1900s via Kirkwood Student Media