25 thoughts on “Harriet Tubman Gets Her Movie

  1. This! This is how you use period detail to help tell the story. This is proof that accurate to the period costume is not full or “unrelatable”.

  2. I was super-impressed by the clothing in this movie (I hesitate to call them “costumes” they are so real). The plot was solid enough to warrant them, modified but not “movie-fied”. I can’t get over how much the actress looks like that photo of the younger Tubman. If this film doesn’t win the Oscar for at least the costume designer I will be very disappointed.

  3. What I want to know most is, did they integrate her brain damage into the movie, or did they ablewash her?

    1. She has “sleeping spells” and visions (the movie’s way of showing her belief that God spoke directly to her. She tells the story of how she got her injury and William Still writes “possible brain damage” in his notes.

    2. I didn’t include it here, but director Kasi Lemmons has mentioned in interviews how she interpreted Tubman’s brain damage on screen. It’s elegantly done, IMO, & relates to Tubman’s deep faith, which is well documented.

    3. They also have Still taking down her story hear her say she has spells/visions following her injury, and he writes down “possible brain damage.” I felt they handled it pretty well.

  4. This movie looks good (Unlike some movies set in the 1860’s I could mention!) Thought the 1860’s isn’t my favorite era (Derpy Bonnets).

    1. Most of the film is set between 1849 and 1850. The rest of the film is set in 1858 and the coda is 1863.

  5. Totally agree with your review. The costumes clearly had a lot of thoughtfulness and attention to detail, and overall it was a good film about a great woman.

    1. No. There is little to no overt violence shown in the film — the director didn’t want to make ‘slavery porn’ as she said in interviews. The horrors of slavery are discussed & shown by consequence, but it’s not gruesome like ’12 Years a Slave’ & other films.

      1. Perhaps they don’t feel it necessary to emphasize the horror of slavery in a graphic way. Thus making the film useful in the classroom.

        Certainly a worthy topic, but the look makes me want to see it on the big screen. Plus Leslie Odom Jr…

        1. It’s terrible to be played in a classroom because it is revisionist history. Their was never any records of black bounty hunters. Black people didn’t have that sort of agency back then. For the main villian in the movie to be a black man named Bigger Long is highly disrespectful to black Americans. The movie was aweful and shameful to the memory of Harriet Tubman #notmyharriet

          1. If you’ve seen the movie, you’d know that the black slave catcher is NOT the main villain at all — the white owner is. Read the link I noted above for historical analysis about both characters, which, as I said, are both fictionalized. The character you obsess over, Bigger Long, is in a mere handful of scenes & does not interact with Harriet Tubman. He is a minor character.

            Compare with her white former owner who repeatedly yells at her, comparing her to a pig throughout the film, until the final scene when (spoiler), she has the chance to kill him. All of that is fictional, true, but it contributes to her powerful redemption arc, & I think it’s fairly indicative of the abuses she endured without showing bloody brutality, which was the director’s intent.

      2. I hate that phrase “slavery porn”. To me, it’s a sign that someone doesn’t want to face the realities of American slavery and what many captives had to endure. Is that the director’s problem?

        1. I wouldn’t call it “slavery porn” because that phrase, to me, cheapens the horror of the institution of slavery. But I can understand not wanting to see graphic violence and pain dramatized in movies/TV. I’ve watched Roots and its sequels (the original and the more recent remake); but I can’t sit down and watch more people whipped or beaten or killed because of slavery, i.e. 12 Years A Slave. (I can’t watch “Schindler’s List” again either, which has nothing to do with American slavery). There is only so much brutality I can endure to watch on TV or in movies, whether or not it is fact-based. That doesn’t mean I condone slavery, or the Holocaust; or that I haven’t read about them and other horrible exercises in inhumanity in books…

          1. Actually, Cheney McKnight of Not Your Mother’s History and Abby Cox, formerly of American Duchess, just had a hard and beautiful discussion about having a wedding on a plantation in which Abby rightly compared it to having a wedding in the commandant’s house of a concentration camp. I had never looked at it that way – that some of these beautiful Southern mansions are no better than Mauthausen. It was certainly disquieting, and a painful way for me to check my white Southern privilege.

  6. I liked “Harriet” more than I was expecting to. (Meaning I really wanted it to be good, not just to have my tears jerked.) Took me a while to recognize Erivo as the bad-ass hairdresser from “Widows. She was very fine as Tubman. I also don’t remember one scene in which I thought the costumes stood out too much; they were worn by the characters, instead of the other way around, and the superhero look added to the exhilaration of Tubman’s later exploits. Lastly, what did anyone think of the hair styling? I admired it, but am no expert in these matters.

  7. I was very much on the fence about this movie, mostly due to the reviews. I think I will go see it this weekend now.

  8. Saw the movie last night–it’s a fine piece of cinema. Toward the beginning when she is with her first husband, I noticed the patching on his coat…it was a thoughtful detail of patches over patches along the shoulders where the weight of the fabric would have pulled at the seams.

  9. Minor out-of-period detail that did not bother me too much: The long-haired dog used by the character Bigger Long in one of his few scenes should not be there. Unlike the Bloodhounds and possibly other scenthounds who were used by the white slave hunters, Long’s dog was played by what seems to be either a long-haired German Shepherd or a Shiloh or King Shepherd (the latter two breeds being modern German Shepherd mixes/relations). The first German Shepherd would not appear until 1899. (being an amateur dog expert, I notice such things)

    I loved this movie; Harriet Tubman has always been one of my heroes. I was very pleased that they did not omit Harriet’s religious beliefs; regardless of its origin, her faith (including the visions) gave her strength and inspiration through very bad and dangerous times. I’m also glad the movie did not endeavor to preach that faith to the audience; I thought that the movie was putting the visions and inspiration in it to show Harriet’s motivations, and then left it up to the audience to make of them what we wanted to.

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