The Harriet Tubman movie, directed by Kasi Lemmons and released in November 2019, is a powerful film that does justice to Tubman’s story of compassion for enslaved people and her unrelenting drive to guide them to freedom in the north. There are a few scenes of exaggerated Hollywood drama (Harriet Tubman never jumped off a bridge to escape slave catchers nor did she fire a pistol, wounding a slave catcher/slave owner), but these few lapses in historical accuracy are more than made up in capturing the resolution and commitment of Tubman’s liberation efforts.
Actor Cynthia Erivo and director Kasi Lemmons do a remarkable job capturing the dedication of the person of Harriet Tubman and the period of time in which she lived. Tubman is portrayed as heroic, yet self-effacing. Never do her numerous trips south to guide enslaved people to freedom ever lose the tension and fear surrounding those efforts despite their frequency. Never does Tubman take for granted that each liberation is a unique event and could very well derail on the tentative structure that was the Underground Railroad.
Supporting cast members provide stellar performances in bringing Tubman’s story to the screen. Those who do some background reading before seeing the movie will appreciate the veracity and care with which the film has been crafted. Unlike so many historical films, Harriet maintains scrupulous accuracy (with the few exceptions noted above) while moving at the harrowing pace that was Harriet Tubman’s life in Antebellum America. Harriet should be a model for any filmmaker taking on a historical biography project in the future.
Harriet Tubman Trailer here