Harriet | Movie Review

The new movie “Harriet” sets the record straight on one of history’s great heroines.

History has done a disservice to Harriet Tubman. Indeed, many of us remember the photos of Ms. Tubman from our history books; a petite woman in simple dress, resembling a kindly, peaceful grandmother. In reality, Tubman was a pistol-packin’ mama with a determination rivaling some of the greatest heroes in history. Thankfully, the new movie about her life tries to set the record straight.

“Harriet” is a movie that will not get as much attention as it deserves. At first glance, it seems to be a romanticized effort to make Tubman into some type of female action hero. Upon closer inspection though, audiences will find that the facts far outweigh the smattering of fiction that has been added to the story for cohesiveness and watchability. We are not only witness to the harrowing rescue of hundreds of slaves, but also to several incidents in Tubman’s life that are not widely known. Writer’s went to great lengths to research and get key information into Tubman’s life story; information that will bring new insight into the Tubman we thought we knew.

Cynthia Erivio leads a talented and incredible cast as Tubman, bringing a mixture of vulnerability, tough-as-nails grit and fierce perseverance her portrayal. It is my great hope that she will be recognized and awarded for this multifaceted performance. Notable performances from Clarke Peters as Tubman’s father and Vondie Curtis-Hall as preacher and Underground Railroad conspirator add to the remarkable acting across the board. This is truly an outstanding ensemble.

My first reaction to the film was to be skeptical of what seemed to be a largely fictionalized story. However, after researching on my own, I was amazed to see how much we did not know about Harriet Tubman. Her work as a spy and commander during the Civil War in addition to her early efforts to stand up for legal rights of slaves were indeed actual incidents that really happened. This movie will renew interest in Harriet Tubman, and perhaps change our perception of her. It’s about time.

Go see this film. It’s important and necessary. 

My grade: A. “Harriet” is rated PG-13 with a running time of 2 hrs and 5 minutes.   

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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