Harriet (2019)

“[to Gideon, at gunpoint] You’ll die right here. On a frozen, blood-soaked battlefield, the moans of a generation of young men in your ears, dying in agony around you, for a lost cause. For a vile and wicked idea! For the sin of slavery! Can you hear them? God don’t mean people to own people, Gideon! Our time is near!” – Harriet

Number of Times Seen – 1 (5 Jan 2020)

Brief Synopsis – A runaway slave decides to try and help her fellow slaves escape the cruelty of the South by joining the underground railroad.

My Take on it – This is a film that I heard about months ago and being fascinated with American History was quite curios to see what they would do with a biopic of such an iconic figure like Harriet Tubman.

The movie tells an interesting and intriguing tale yet somehow isn’t presented in a way that would make it as powerful as one might hope it would be.

This film does a nice job explaining how she became such an iconic figure in American history due to all of her efforts on behalf of her fellow slaves.

Cynthia Erivo does a wonderful job in the title role and helps make this character feel even more tangible in all of her efforts and actions.

She was deservingly nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her work in this film and I won’t be surprised if she manages to also get an Oscar nomination for her work here when they are announced.

The biggest problem with this film is that it fails to bring to life the larger than life story of Tubman and her work on the underground railroad in more powerful or poignant way which is such a shame.

The story is presented in a very formulaic way that also hurts things because it follows a path that feels much too predictable and planned out and missing the chance to be even groundbreaking.

Bottom Line – Intriguing story that unfortunately isn’t as powerful as one might hope that it could be. Harriet Tubman is an important historical figure and this film helps explain why she has become so famous due to her actions.  Erivo does a wonderful job in the title role and helps make this character more tangible in all that she does. She was deservingly nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her work here and she might get an Oscar nomination when they announce. The biggest problem here is that this story is told in a very formulaic way and fails to be more poignant or groundbreaking which is quite a shame.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The script was originally written and owned by Disney but they refused to make the film, the film only was able to get made once Disney relinquished the rights to the script. (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy (5/10)


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4 thoughts on “Harriet (2019)

  1. Agree with you. Took a fascinating subject and dropped the ball. Poor writing and mediocre direction. A game cast – but most trying too hard in unwritten and underrealized roles. A dud. I was warned off by my son who saw it first – not to waste my time. Didn’t plan to see it but was sent a screener (as a WGA member) and watched it. It lived down to my son’s review. Erivo – a very good actress – also underwhelmed. Will be surprised if she grabs one of the 5 Oscar noms in her category. She was great on Broadway in The Color Purple and better in “Bad Times at the El Royale” than she was in Harriet. As to Disney – studios don’t “refuse” to make movies – it might have been developed and dropped – or put into “turnaround” – enabling another studio to reimburse Disney for their out of pocket expenses on the film’s development enabling them to make it.


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