I just went to see Harriet (opening day, woo!) with my mom. The acting was exemplary and kudos to whoever sewed all the clothes. There’s so much talent out there that’s not made enough use of. Why do they have to make so many movies starring the same old same old (such as any actor named Tom) when they could be making movies with people as talented and enjoyable to watch as the people who starred in Harriet.
I also loved the way, in the movie, the slaves used spiritual songs to send messages. Did that happen in real life? I bet it happened in real life. What a powerful, beautiful tool. I wish it could have saved them all from slavery.
The single complaint I have about the movie is that the script tried to cram too many literal miles of underground railroading into one two-ish hour time frame. Boom – Harriet’s here, as if 100 miles were nothing. (Have you ever tried to walk 100 miles? It takes the better part of a week and, even under the best of circumstances, it’s exhausting.) Then, poof – she’s there with a bunch of enslaved people in tow! And then boom – she’s back again to save some more!!
OK, there were a few tense moments with men with guns and bloodhounds, but it was all way too rushed, robbing you of any true sense of what the journey entailed. Perhaps it’s ridiculous to ask that a movie did more plodding, but, darn it, there should have been way more dreary plodding and so much more waiting and hiding and more waiting, too terrified to even breathe.
But the movie undoubtedly accomplished what it set out to accomplish, which wasn’t just to let Harriet Tubman’s tale tell itself, but also to show the horrific hate (and unjust acts of physical and emotional violence) that American slaves had to face from their owners and other people invested in propping up the slave-based economy status quo. (Ever wondered what it means when someone tells you that slavery destroys not just the slave but the slave owner? Go see Harriet and watch the hate that has corrupted the souls of the slave owners, twisting and rotting them until they are utterly awful human beings.)
Watching that hate, it makes you think about how much that hate is still with us today and how much it is still directed at the people it is meant to keep down.
I wish it was not so. I wish that we were doing better.