TFS Movie Review: Harriet | Not Another Slave Movie

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Not another slave movie.

That was exactly what I thought when that Harriet trailer dropped a few months ago. Everybody was all excited on the socials talking bout we better show up like we did for Black Panther. And I was like do we have to though? 

 It was turning out to be like that Christmas episode of Black-ish when they all wanted to see the new superhero movie and Dre makes them all see the new Rosa Parks movie instead. He says, “If we want to have black movies, we have to show up.” 

 And damnit, he was right. So on opening night on Halloween, I showed up. 

Let’s take a small step back real quick. In case you’ve literally been under a rock, here’s a brief history: Araminta Ross aka Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist and activist. Born into slavery, she escaped north to freedom, but made several rescue missions back to help 70 slaves escape through the antislavery network of activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Oh, did I mention she was also a spy for the Union in the Civil War and was the first woman to lead an armed expedition that liberated more than 700 slaves? 

So yeah, she’s pretty much the shit and a badass and therefore it’s about time that her story was told on the big screen. 

 And can we give it up for Cynthia Erivo? I’ve been charmed by her and her colorful hair over the last couple weeks with her TV interviews promoting the movie and she’s gracefully handled the “black British vs black American roles” question on numerous times. But most importantly, give it up for the fact that she spent this ENTIRE movie running. Like seriously, she literally just runs in this entire film. I was tired for her. Sheesh. Give her a Kit Kat because she deserves a break.

So what did I like about this movie? While debriefing with a friend, she pointed out how the movie humanized Harriet. And it’s true. Whenever we think of Harriet Tubman, we all recall that one picture of her looking stoic and not smiling. We don’t ever think about how she was a daughter, a sister, a wife, etc. And I think the movie did a good job of showing that and getting our emotions involved.

 And that sanging. They sang the hell out of those negro spirituals. 

 My only annoyance the whole movie was the visions. I would literally groan every time one came on screen. Yes, yes, it’s widely documented that she claimed she had premonitions and that she said it was God speaking to her and helping guide her. Who am I to say that wasn’t true? But it was SO AWKWARD every time we had sit through one of “Minty’s spells.”  Like I literally COULD NOT.

So here’s the thing. The movie is good. It should probably go on the required watch list for everyone. Cynthia Erivo played the part she was given.

But do I think it’s Oscar worthy? The answer is no. 

I saw Selma 3 times in the theater. 3 TIMES. Harriet just didn’t stay with me.

It made for great discussion the next day, and it will probably get nominated for something cause I’m sure they are wondering if its racist not to nominate a slave movie. But for me, it’s just another great piece to add to the growing library of African American history. And I’m glad I showed up for it.

 TFS Rating: B+