‘Harriet’ Review: The Marvel Moses

Moses was one of the most heroic women in the 1800s changing history and slavery for the better.


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Harriet Tubman poses for a photo. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Harriet Tubman’s bold and heroic life was captured and recreated through the recent movie “Harriet”, directed by Kasi Lemmons. The main character Harriet (called Minty) is played by the actress Cynthia Erivo, who is known for other films such as “Bad Times at the El Royale” (2018) and “Windows” (2018). Harriet is a slave working for the Brodess family with her mother and sibling. Her husband, John Tubman (Zackary Momoh), and her father, Ben Ross (Clark Peters), are both free.

Harriet wants to escape her slaveholders and run away to live a free life. The dilemma is that if she gets caught she and her family would likely suffer brutal punishments and wouldn’t ever get the chance to gain freedom. She wants to run away from the plantation where she and her family live and then come back to rescue the rest of her family once is free.

Erivo plays Minty Ross, who is known to other slaves and their masters as Moses, later when she is free she chooses her name to be Harriet. Harriet runs from her slave house in Maryland and leaves her family behind to be free. After she runs from her masters on foot hundreds of miles she makes it to Pennsylvania, a state home to many antislavery activists. She is greeted by William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.) and a woman named Marie Buchanon (Janelle Monae) who accepts her and takes care of her.

Living a new free life, Harriet wants to go back to Maryland and bring her family and friends to freedom. She makes many trips back and forth to Maryland rescuing her fellow family members and other slaves on the way. Harriet is now known as Moses to the masters and slaves she rescues. This leads to her having a large bounty on her head while she is rescuing slaves which makes it even more thrilling for her. She joins the Underground Railroad where she later becomes a nurse, union spy, and suffrage supporter.

Lemmons, the director of the film, wanted to focus more on the experiences of the characters and their stories and less on the brutality that they endured. “I really felt that I wanted to speak about a different kind of violence, which was family separation, which I hadn’t seen as much of but is very much the Harriet Tubman story and what she was motivated by,” said Lemmons in an article from NBC News.

Lemmons thought Erivo was a great actress for the role because of her singing voice, stature, cheekbones, and athleticism.

Many of the reviews on the film talk very highly about the actors and their portrayal of Harriet Tubman’s life. “I thought this was a thought-provoking film full of anxious moments imagining what Harriet was going through. It was a beautiful depiction of a Heroic Woman then and now…..she should have received a Humanitarian Award in Heaven and Earth! I will go again…; purchase for education purposes. I am going to read Harriet’s biography next for more info on her. The actors were amazing!” said a review from Common Sense Media.

This film could be a great lesson for preteens and teens about slavery, racism, and equality because it shows how real those times were. It is a shocking awakening to how brutal and real it was for slaves and how unfairly they were treated. I would highly recommend this action-packed movie to anyone looking for an exciting look back on a history full of incredible acting.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.”
Harriet Tubman

Director: Kasi Lemmons
Date: November 1, 2019
Date reviewed: March 18, 2021
Rating: rotten tomato: 73%
Genre: action/history
Actors: Cynthia Erivo as Harriet, Janelle Monae as Marie, Joe Alwyn as Gideon, and Leslie Odom Jr. as William Still