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Harriet Tubman Movie Review

Updated on March 6, 2020
Rodric29 profile image

God's hand is in every move we make rather we think so or not. Stories of faith and love in the face of adversity make us strong. Read on.

I finally watched the movie about Harriet Tubman. I refused to watch it initially because I thought doing so would destroy my honest estimation of her due to sensationalism that movies bring with them to sell tickets. I was right in part! The movie did influence my estimation of her, but not due to sensationalism. Following is my estimation of this movie telling the historic importance of a heroine of the promised land of America. I see why the United States plans to put her on the $20 bill.

Source

Harriet

The previews that held me at bay to watching it belied the beauty of the message in the movie and the life of the woman who became Harriet Tubman and the great Black Moses of American slaves.

Since this movie is a historical representation of what happened with artistic license for what could have been said and experienced outside of the historical facts, spoilers are not a fear I want you readers to have. It's history. This review is bigger than the movie, though it is inspired by the movie.

Cynthia Erivo

Cynthia Erivo portrayed the American icon, Harriet Tubman, in the film with perfect complexity and realism. Cynthia is a credit to the art of acting as an artist who disappears to exhibit an evolution of her character from a slave girl in Maryland named Minty to an abolitionist named Harriet.

The most exciting part is the education aspect of the movie. All of the things I know about Harriet, I did not know she had another name before becoming the heroine; but, the film shows how heroes and heroines are not born into existence but groomed by their experiences.

“She was incredibly brave, and fast and strong" offered Director Kasi Lemmons (who wrote the screenplay with Gregory Allen Howard), in reference to Tubman. "She had the makings of a real-life superhero, which she was.” [1]

Cynthia portrayed that vision of Lemmons perfectly. Like a superhero, she helped the origin story come alive!

Cynthia as Harriet

I cried through 80% of the movie.

— Rodric Johnson

Lemmons did take some creative license, but not much with the history of the people. All of the main characters in the movie existed properly. I mentioned this because, in The Prince of Egypt, the characters existed but not in the correct relationships. Moses knew he was a slave unlike in the movie and he was not a brother to the pharaoh as depicted in the children's film.

Joe Alwyn

In Harriet, not too much needed changing to make the movie relatable and compelling. The one part that was fictional was the relationship between Gideon Brodess, (fictional himself) and Araminta Ross who became Harriet. Joe was vicious in the movie and did a great job showing the evolution of his character from Minty's childhood friend to her foe.

In the film, Harriet is chased by her slave owner’s vengeful grandson, Gideon ( portrayed by Joe Alwyn), with whom she grew up. ...history has given only slight references to her son, Jonathan. So filmmakers took creative liberty filling in Alwyn's character. [1]

This tweak to the story plays a large part in the villainy of the character as Gideon becomes Harriet's Captain Ahab to her Moby Dick. Instead of giving a false understanding of Harriet's life, this creative license captures the vividity of the horrors of life for runaway slaves.

Joe as Gideon

The Movie Shows Her Faith

Throughout the movie, Harriet showed faith in God. While watching the movie I wondered if its portrayal of her having special visions was added for dramatic effect. I hesitated to put stock in it until I searched online and found the following:

In the film, Tubman is portrayed as a deeply religious woman whose psychic visions aided her dangerous journeys on the Underground Railroad.

In real life, “she was intensely faithful. That strong sense of faith was somewhat typical on the Eastern Shore, that Methodist kind of intensity,” [Kate Clifford Larson, consulting historian] says. As for her dreamlike visions, an overseer struck Tubman on the head with a heavy weight as a 13-year-old, and she suffered seizures for the rest of her life. Tubman believed those seizures were prophetic. "She believed that God was speaking to her and guiding her, telling her what to do and protecting her," the historian says. [1]

Not only was there some truth to her visions, but she also had seizures just like me! I identified so much with this movie because of the idea of freedom.

A line in the movie that stood to me came when Harriet had the evil Gideon on the ground before her after she shot him in the hand. She prophesied that he would die in that spot in war declaring,

God don’t mean people to own people, Gideon! Our time is near. You tried to destroy my family, but you can’t. You tried to destroy my people, but you won’t. God has shown me the future, and my people are free. My people are free!." [2]

I don't know if something like that exchange actually happened in Harriet's life because Gideon and Harriet's exchanges are the result of artistic license, but it sure felt nice to hear and see the look in Cynthia's eyes as she said the lines. She did not look like a warrior, just a woman fed up with being treated like an animal.

The Effect On Me

I cried through 80% of the movie. A friend of mine sent a book to me entitled The Lincoln Hypothesis by Timothy Ballard. I did not know that Harriet and Lincoln were contemporaries. She committed her life to helping free the slaves and Lincoln committed his career to execute it at the expense of his own life. Ballard claims that Lincoln was one of two men who were sent to help America fulfill its promise to religious freedom.

Because I am reading the book, it triggered a spiritual response within. It was a spiritual feast of recognition that my modern privilege cost lives in the Civil War. I wrote on social media.

I know that God held her hand along the way to get those people to freedom. I believe she was part of a great covenant God made with America that as long as the people of the lands of America (North and South) worshipped the God of the land, they would be free. It took a war for that to happen in the United States, but Canada, which is also a part of the Americas, was a refuge for the faithful.

...Many men and women died so that my ancestors could be free to worship Jesus Christ as equals with others as Lehi taught, "We have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord." [2 Nephi 1:5]

In order to keep His promise, God had to free the slaves. Jacob quoting God reveals that America "is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God." [2 Nephi 10:19]

I truly believe Harriet Tubman was called of God as part of the great war of freedom to purge the Americas of the wicked and save the righteous. Not only her, but scores of other people who helped to change the Americas from the Cape Horn and Diego Ramirez Islands in South America to Kaffeklubben Island, Greenland. God will have a free people.

The tears came because I knew that slavery did exist and people suffered at the hands of others who thought they had the right to enslave them. As a believer in God and Jesus Christ like Harriet, I shed tears for each man, woman, and child who endured the horrors of human trafficking in the United States.

"I'll Meet You In the Morning"

10 Out of 10 Rating

I recommend viewing this movie for a decent historical experience. The movie is not meant to spark ill toward the descendants of slaveholders or resentment towards White people since White people were just as involved with the Underground Rail Road as was Harriet. This movie is about the human will for freedom, seeking it and helping others to have it.

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    • Rodric29 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodric Anthony 

      3 weeks ago from Peoria, Arizona

      Ruby, I think God was with her. I believe strongly He was with her! She helped personally 70 people and collectively over 350 people. Those are lives that were changed for the better. She did a part in helping her countrymen realize the dream of America which is portrayed lovely in the move. More kudos to Kasi Lemmons. Lemmon for his efforts! Thanks for reading.

    • Rodric29 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodric Anthony 

      3 weeks ago from Peoria, Arizona

      Bill, thanks for reading. I love the power portrayed in the movie that she wanted to be free and all of her people free. I so love President Lincoln and his supporters who made it possible for her dream to come true. It took several generations for us to get where we are in race relations, but I think Harriet would be proud of our direction despite the concerns of today.

    • Rodric29 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodric Anthony 

      3 weeks ago from Peoria, Arizona

      manatita44, your inclusion of the irony of America trying to put a slave on a monetary not is not wasted on me. I would never have seen that. Harriet might balk at the idea of have her representation on a bill that could have been used to purchase her at one time, or she could look at it from the perspective that she is free now and is on the money instead of being subject to it as property.

      I will read those poems.

    • Rodric29 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodric Anthony 

      3 weeks ago from Peoria, Arizona

      I recommended it, Pamela. I shows the historical perspective of all sides, my wife said to me. I agree. It is not a move about how slaves were treated and how White people are bad. It is a movie about how slaves wanted freedom and how the people helped to support and existing avenue to gain it before the Civil War.

    • Rodric29 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rodric Anthony 

      3 weeks ago from Peoria, Arizona

      I am honored that you departed from your normal rule to give my article a read, Eric. I think Harriet Tubman has become my new historical hero, one of them, anyway. I think that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln still hold the top spots for Modern History.-

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

      The full movie is on you tube. Woopie!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

      Oh, I will see this movie. A wonderful review. God must have been with her every step of the way. Thank you for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Bev and I saw this movie and loved it. I, too, cried through much of it. The world needs more Harriet Tubmans today.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      3 weeks ago from london

      Very well done! I always prefer pieces like this, which shows injustice without prejudice. So Kudos to you!

      I got a nice commission to do a piece on a painting called My underground Queen. You know what underground means in London and so I wrote a regal, majestic, yet slightly sensuous piece.

      I got the history of the painting two days later and changed it radically. It could easily have been about Harrier Tubman, as it even looks like her. My poem is here on Hub Pages, probably one or two down.

      The songs are deep, soulful, passionate! Thanks for creating awareness, Bro. Peace.

      (I did read a small part of your story) and oh, I was discussing this dollar thing. Even here it's not clear cut whether it was done. Some folks think it's an insult to what she stood for, as slavery itself came out of avarice or greed.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      3 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

      This is a good review of this movie. I believe I understand your emotional response. I will try to see this historical movie also.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      3 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting review. I don't read reviews as a rule but you put it together real well. She truly is a heroine of the first order.

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