Flash Movie Review: Harriet

I BELIEVE EVERYONE HAS A BREAKING point; the only difference is each person has it set at a different threshold. Some years ago, there was an employee at the company I worked at who was a jovial man. Friendly to everyone, always a smile on his face; for all intents and purposes, he was an ideal employee. Let me add, he had been employed at the company for several years. I never heard the details of what caused him to reach his breaking point; only that it was a “bad” scene. He got into an argument with another employee. If the two men had a history of confrontations, I was not privy to the information. However, the fight turned heated as the 2 men raised their voices and started yelling obscenities at each other. I do not know how long this went on; but at some point, the jovial employee picked up a large monkey wrench and chased the other employee around their work area. Another employee intervened by tackling the employee and wrestling him to the ground, while grabbing the monkey wrench and twisting it out of his hand. As you may have guessed he was fired that day. When news spread throughout the company, employees were stunned; no one ever imagined he could get so angry or try to cause bodily harm to another person.      REMEMBERING THAT EMPLOYEE REMINDED ME OF my younger days when my breaking point was set at a lower threshold. I was always quick to use my anger to solve disturbing situations. If I felt someone slighted me, I would immediately go on the attack. Gratefully I never ventured into the use of physical harm; however, I would verbally abuse them by using every swear word I knew. If that did not satisfy me, I would plot out covert ways I could get back at them. I am too embarrassed to tell you about a few of the things I did in my past; let me just say I am not proud of those actions. What I can tell you is I am no longer that individual. These days, my breaking point resides on a higher level. The reason may be a variety of things, from becoming more mature to exploring avenues of self-help. Regardless, having a stronger sense of self has allowed me to make better and more rational decisions. Though I am still capable of letting my anger come out full force, I have not encountered a situation that called for it. Certainly nothing near what the main character endured in this dramatic, historical biography.      IF IT MEANT DYING THEN THE slave Minty, played by Cynthia Erivo (Widows, Bad Times at the El Royale), was at peace with it if it meant there was a chance, she could be free of her master. Chances were not in her favor. With Leslie Odom Jr (Red Tails, Murder on the Orient Express) as William Still, Joe Alwyn (The Favourite, Mary Queen of Scots) as Gideon Brodess, Clarke Peters (John Wick, Marley & Me) as Ben Ross and Vanessa Bell Calloway (Daylight, Lakeview Terrace) as Rit Rose; this movie based on a true story had the perfect actor playing the role of Minty/Harriet. Cynthia’s acting was memorable just as her voice was when her character would sing a few bars in several scenes. The story was incredible and unimaginable. For most of the time my eyes were glued to the screen; however, when the script went off into a religious fantasy mode it lost me a bit. I thought those scenes were over dramatic and thick. If they had been toned down and made to be more of a realistic conversation, I would have put more stock in them. Still, I was engaged throughout the story. On a sad/poignant note, the news today is reporting about a fast food restaurant where the staff asked a black family to change their seats because a white customer did not want them seated next to him. I cannot stop wondering if we will ever see a change.


3 stars         


About moviejoltz

From a long line of movie afficionados, one brother was the #1 renter of movies in the country with Blockbuster, I am following in the same traditions that came before me. To balance out the long hours seated in dark movie theaters, I also teach yoga and cycling. For the past 3 years, I have correctly picked the major Oscar winners... so join me as we explore the wonder of movies and search for that perfect 4 star movie.

Posted on November 5, 2019, in Drama and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Speaking for myself only, granted that I have seen a few, I don’t actually watch a lot of slave-related movies because like violent video games, I feel it leaves a bad impression on some minds of all races. The reviews I had read so far have been up and down, with one black screenwriter saying he found the movie to somewhat pacify the white audience by creating certain elements to relieve racial tension, which was likely something done to get the movie made in the first place. I don’t know. Anyway, I do like the actress in the title role as I have seen her work in previous films. And yes, she has an amazing singing voice. I haven’t seen this movie and I probably won’t for the reason I mentioned above. Racism continues to raise its ugly head and I have to deal with it on a daily basis. Being black and LGBT makes it even worse. As important as Harriet Tubman’s story is for the history of black people and others, I don’t need to see this movie at all.

    • Hi Tracy and thank you for your insightful comments. After reading them I feel the fantasy parts of the film may have been directed to find a comfort level with some viewers. Since you are not planning on seeing this film can I suggest you look up the song Stand Up sung by Cynthia at the end of the film. I believe there is a video of her doing it. Once again thank you.

  2. I will probably see this movie when it’s pay per view (I can’t sit through an entire movie in a theater and miss a lot). This seems like a movie where I’ll have to do a lot of playing back scenes.

    It never ceases to amaze me that we zero in on only one travesty in history and forget that Jews were slaves to Egyptians for hundreds of years, European Christians used to sell pagans from the north to the Middle East as slaves, and Native Americans had slaves, too. Irish were slaves in the new world first — not simply “indentured servants.” And the English tried to exterminate the Irish at one time.

    I don’t see the Irish demanding reparations, or hating the English for crimes commented generations before.

    We have to get past the “black vs white” and see that if it weren’t for all hues of human risking their lives to be rid of slavery, things might have been quite different.

    Ironically, there is more slavery now than there was during the time that slaves were in the USA. We call it a more “humane” name: Human trafficking. Why not put our efforts toward eradicating that, than to insist on reopening wounds that were never ours to feel?

  3. I had a pretty bad experience watching this movie. I am a college professor. I use to teach African American experience. I now focus on freshmen composition but I conduct professional development to teach educators about racism.
    At the end of the movie a white woman who attended the movie with a friend stood in front of me and asked if I was ok. I looked at her and told her with wrinkled eyebrows yes. I wanted her to get out of my way because I actually like the credits.
    Before I could finish saying yes, she bent down, hugged me. I’m a very loving person but that pissed me off.
    I have a 17 year old 6’2 black son who was accused of rubbing up against a white girl a few weeks ago inappropriately. I’m also a lawyer and his dad is a cop. My child was so upset and bothered that he took it upon himself to record her. She stated she lied, we took it to the principal and he had been a lot bothered by this. We began researching more about black males falsely accused of raping and we even wrote a letter to a recent prisoner (Black male who was charged and is looking to receive legal help) about what happened to him.

    How does this relate to the movie? The white woman touched me without my permission. She felt guilty and that’s not my problem. If my black son did that to her….
    he touched a white girl inappropriately because he tried to help her from falling down. We will keep this recording of her and we shared with her parents and administrators because many don’t understand that racism with Black and white is much much bigger than anything we can imagine.
    I’m two generations away from slavery. Many are not open minded and selfish to not take the time to step out of their comfort to see the importance of teaching and understanding.
    This is my opinion. If you respond, please do not attack me….

    I blog on : http://www.thisthingcalledlifebykk.com

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. I cannot think of any reason why anyone would attack you for your comments. I teach yoga, fitness and cycling classes and am in the minority of the instructors for being male. I make it a amor point that members in my class are comfortable and have their own personal spaces, so I am horrified someone would touch and hug you; it is simply wrong to do without permission.

      I wish the best for your son and he can move on to the next chapter of his life without this burden in the forefront. I am curious though, what did you think of the film? Again thank you for your words.

      • Thank you. I teach African American studies and have for many years. I teach about racism, so it was a good movie to address issues, but it still fails to truly depict what many do not know. Movies like this are good, but they do not touch on why AA studies is important. I personally believe it makes many (like the woman who touched me) feel sorry versus seeing history and how we need to make changes. It fails to truly depict why we still need AA studies because slavery and racism and all things within this is still new. My mom just turned 60 and was one of the few blacks to integrate a high school. My aunts and uncles (she has nine siblings) have shared many horror stories about being AA. So I liked the movie but I don’t think many can truly understand ….
        I hope this makes sense.

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