Harriet – Budget Unknown – 2 hours and 5 minutes
In Maryland 1849, Minty lays on the ground and opens her eyes to see her husband, John. Unlike her, John is free. He got a lawyer to look over her master’s father’s will. The will said Minty’s mother, Rit, and her descendants were to be freed when Rit turned 45, now she is 57. John hands the lawyer’s letter to Minty’s current master, Mr. Brodess and he is furious. He refuses to honor his father’s wishes. He states that Minty, her children, and her children’s children will be his slaves forever. Minty runs to the woods and screams in agony. Then, she prays for the lord to take her master. She turns around to see Gideon, the master’s son, standing behind her. Gideon tells Minty her prayers are useless because God doesn’t listen to negroes. That very night, Gideon’s father dies and he blames Minty. Minty knows he will sell her as soon as he can, so she decides to run. She tells John to wait for her down the road. But Gideon gets to him first, so she keeps running. Her father tells her to run to the church for safekeeping. Minty is confused because Pastor Green preaches that runaway slaves go to hell. However, he is quietly helping slaves escape. He gives Minty instructions to run to Philidelphia. After a grueling 100 mile journey alone, Minty is on free land as a free woman. She is told to find William Still, chairman of the Anti-Slave Society. William documents her story, along with hundreds of slaves, in his Underground Railroad Records. He tells her she can pick a new name. She chooses Harriet after her mother and Tubman like her husband. For a year, Harriet lived and worked in Philidelphia as a free woman but something called her back. Harriet tells William she wants to go back to Maryland to get her husband first, then get her family. William strongly advises against her plan but Marie Buchanon, a proprietor, agrees to get Harriet someone else’s free-woman papers. With the papers, etiquette classes, and a nice dress, Harriet is heading south. She will become the woman who led an army, the myth “Moses”, and the legend Harriet Tubman.
This movie focuses on the struggle Harriet went through to become the abolitionist, conductor, and spy she became. If you are looking for a movie to speak on the brutality of slavery, 12 Years a Slaves or Roots would be a better choice (FTC Affiliate Disclaimer). This movie is different because it focuses on her triumphs and setbacks when she tried to save her family. Some were sold, some died, and some decided to stay. Then, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed. Harriet would have to help slaves run from the south to Canada to gain freedom. While others tried to stop her, Harriet wouldn’t hear it. She refused to stop until slavery was over. This movie does cut her life work short. It only mentions she acted as a spy, not the work she did. It mentions she was apart of the women’s suffrage movement but doesn’t describe her role. African American women often feel the need to chose a minority – race or gender. If they fight for African American rights, they can’t fight for women. If they fight for women, they are an enemy of African American rights. Harriet Tubman was able to accomplish both in the 19th century. That is astounding and deserves to be seen on the big screen. While some will see Harriet’s “spell” as trying to excuse her works as being superhuman, it was brain damage that was explained as “spells” during her time. Now, it would be labeled a concussion and brain damage, not messages from God. This movie is a great starting point for her life story. It should encourage you to do more research on who Harriet was to American History.
I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars
I got used to your face but your praying made my skin crawl – Gideon
You left me, Harriet. You left me – John
Which means their motivated – Pastor Green
I have not. I apologize – Marie
Can’t everybody run – Rachel
I forbid it – William
Get on your knees – Harriet