Entertainment » Movies


by Karin McKie
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Jan 28, 2020

Oscar-nominated British actress Cynthia Erivo delivers a riveting, poignant performance as the title character in "Harriet," the first feature-length movie to chronicle the courage and sacrifices of the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Director/co-writer Kasi Lemmons filmed the melodramatic biopic entirely in Virginia, even though Harriet Tubman (who was called Minty, short for Araminta, as a child) first found freedom in Philadelphia. There, she meets "Station Master" and father of the Underground Railroad William Still (Leslie Odom, Jr.), who sets her up to stay with freewoman Marie Buchanon (Janelle MonĂ¡e) and keeps detailed records of the Underground Railroad escapees.

Religious, illiterate and diminutive, Tubman escaped from Maryland in 1849, but returned there to emancipate others, earning the nickname "Moses." She grappled with a head injury that she had received from an overseer when she was a teenager, which gave her hallucinations. Still, she made 19 trips and led 300 people to freedom, even after the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 made recapturing runaways legal even in free states.

In the featurette "Her Story," the female producers talk about how all Americans know Harriet's name, but not her whole story, how she was "an ordinary person who accomplished the unbelievable." Lemmons fought to tell the story of the woman who is "more than a postage stamp."

"Becoming Harriet" shares how Erivo was recruited for the part after producers saw her in "The Color Purple" on Broadway, and her castmates deeply respect her commitment, power, and compassion. Lemmons calls her a force of nature, like Tubman herself.

Other bonus material includes deleted scenes and feature commentary with Lemmons. The "Following Harriet" podcast looks at Harriet Tubman at the experience of enslaved African Americans in Virginia via interviews with leading historians and educators and is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and online: https://www.virginia.org/harriet/

Blu-ray & DVD set

Karin McKie is a writer, educator and activist at KarinMcKie.com

Comments on Facebook