HARRIET, the movie, takes the audience behind the scenes to meet the historic figure known as Harriet Tubman, the name the former slave proudly took when she reached freedom. Had this movie been promoted as a story based on a composite of former slaves (of that era), and their owners, and been named something like “The Underground Railroad”, it would have better met my expectations. Instead, it combined historic facts with myth and fiction.
As a motivational story about the legendary conductor of the Underground Railroad known for her tenacity, courage, capability, great instincts and a very strong belief in God, HARRIET the movie doesn’t go deep enough into why and how Harriet Tubman was all that. The story line doesn’t explain how the historical Underground Railroad worked, leaving too much for granted (by the audience). And the characters in the movie (including Harriet) appeared to be more representational than actual, although Harriet was wonderfully played by actress Cynthia Erivo.
It wasn’t until the end of the movie, seemingly as an afterthought, that a written crawl mentioned some historical facts about freedom-fighter Harriet Tubman (verified on Wikipedia), such as: As a Conductor of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman helped hundreds of slaves escape from the south (over 700). She was also an ardent suffragist. And during the Civil War, she was a Union spy, a scout and a nurse. She was also the first woman to be in charge of an armed military raid. She was married twice and lived until the age of 91. This was the impressive information I walked away with.
As a Biopic, on a scale of 1 – 5 mustaches, I give HARRIET
Director: Kasi Lemmons; Writers: Gregory Allen Howard and Kasi Lemmons; Producers: Debra Martin Chase, Daniela Taplin Lundberg and Gregory Allen Howard. Cast: Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr, Joe Alwyn, Clarke Peters, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Omar J Dorsey, Vondie Curtis Hall, Henry Hunter Hall, Janelle Monae, Jennifer Nettles, Zackary Momoh, and others