On my drive home from campus this past Friday I was racking my brain with ideas of how I wanted to spend my evening, and then it occurred to me that the new Harriet Tubman movie, Harriet, just came out. After a busy week of school, work and life I could not think of a better way to kick off my weekend then by watching this newly released historical drama that myself and others have been anticipating for a while now.
From director Kasi Lemmons comes the incredible true story of Araminta Ross, aka Harriet Tubman. Born a slave in Dorchester County, Maryland, Harriet reveals to audiences the extraordinary circumstances that lead Harriet Tubman to becoming the abolitionist she’s so well remembered as today.
Now, as for my own movie going experience, I will say that I was nothing short of thrilled to finally see this film. I walked into the theater and out of it with the same childlike smile on my face. This is a long overdue film adaptation of an incredible story that needs to be heard and witnessed by everyone. Honestly, I’m already making plans to see it a second, even a third time before it leaves theaters.
With a runtime of two hours and five minutes, Harriet expertly uses every minute to tell this story that so desperately needs to be heard. Emotional and inspiring but not without its moments of comic relief worth a chuckle or two, the film will leave audiences fulfilled in every way. Additionally, the fainting spells that Tubman often finds herself falling into will give audiences an idea of the incredible visions from God she receives that she dutifully listens to. Her strength and her stellar faith in God lead Tubman down a literal path of freedom for herself and many others. Harriet is reminiscent of films like 12 Years a Slave in the ways in which it does not sugar coat the harsh reality, the atrocities of slavery. Audible gasps from the audience during the harder to watch scenes made it more of an immersive movie going experience.
In terms of the acting the film includes outstanding, powerful performances by the entire cast, but especially leads Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at The El Royale, Widows), Leslie Odom Jr. (Murder on the Orient Express, Hamilton) and Joe Alwyn (The Favourite, Mary Queen of Scots). Not to mention a commendable performance by Janelle Monáe as Marie Buchanon.
Harriet also includes a fitting soundtrack that keeps up with the mood changes the film endures as the protagonist continually rises to beat the overwhelmingly grim odds in front of her. The soundtrack includes “Stand Up,” an original song by Cynthia Erivo. The lyrics “and I’ll fight with the strength that I’ve got until I die” are anthemic and quite literal, as Tubman lived and worked to the grand age of 91.
Most importantly, Harriet has inspired me, a black female, to dig deeper into my history and the history of my people, to learn about and hear more of these incredible true stories, such as Miss Tubman’s, that so often go untold.
I’ll admit I’m not the most well-versed in Miss Tubman’s story beyond the basic facts of her time as a slave and her eventual escape to freedom, as well as her work with the Underground Railroad. If there were any historical inaccuracies present in the film they may have very well slipped under my radar, but inaccuracies aside, this is an amazing story and an amazing film that everyone needs to see. The plight and courage of one woman, Harriet Tubman, saved the lives of many and inspired and continues to inspire even more. I don’t usually clap at the end of movies, but for this one I did. Seriously, go see Harriet. You won’t regret it.