by Nolan Runkle
The 2019 Movie Harriet is a true historical retelling of the life of Harriet Tubman in the 1850s, portrayed by Cynthia Erivo. Director, Kasi Lemmons, and writer Allen Howard, show us her life as a slave and her fight against slavery as she transports slaves through the Undergound Railroad, a secret network of abolishionists in the North.
Harriet Tubman, born Araminta Ross in Maryland, was a former slave and abolitionist that helped free over 700 slaves from captivity. Not only did she help approximately 80 slaves from Maryland over the border to Pennsylvania, but she also commanded and led an African American dominant expedition in the American Civil War to free another 700 slaves.
I honestly believe this movie is an instant classic, showcasing the life and struggles of Harriet Tubman. The movie is exceptional, the characters portrayed by the supporting actors are phenomenal, and the historical accuracy is astounding. There are only a few criticisms that come to mind: the acting from Erivo was subpar and the movie was not perfectly accurate to history. Something that could’ve been done to improve the quality of the film is if the actress who plays Harriet Tubman were to better emphasize emotion, rather than keeping stone-faced. Cynthia Erivo delivered a dry performance, and was mostly carried by her costars throughout the movie.The supporting actors were very talented, predominantly Janelle Monáe and Leslie Odom Jr. In addition, the cinematography was not on the same dramatic level compared to other historical films. Something that could’ve been done to improve the quality of the film is if the actress who plays Harriet Tubman were to better emphasize emotion, rather than keeping stone-faced.
This being said, the movie didn’t portray Harriet Tubman as your average heroine and puts a unique spin on her character, which I liked. By transforming Harriet from a timid and self doubting woman into one that can be completely independent breaks the “outspoken woman who finally catches a break” formula. That fact that we see good character development, instead of the character having it all from the start, is a nice change of pace.
All in all, I would give this movie a seven out of ten. The movie somehow breaks from the very typical heroine story and molds it into a new idea, as mentioned before. The only thing holding this movie back is the rather bland first impression and boring actors, besides the aforementioned Janelle Monáe and Leslie Odom Jr. I would recommend this action biography to anyone who cares about history.