By Roxy Romero and Susanna Park
Hollywood actress, Cynthia Erivo, stars in a sensational new movie, Harriet, which was released on November 1st, presenting the remarkable story of Harriet Tubman. Tubman was born in 1820 in Dorchester County, Maryland. She was a slave her whole life until she escaped to freedom in the north in 1849. Furthermore, she became the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad, which led hundreds of families to freedom with the use of safe houses. During the Civil War, she was a spy for the Union and was the first woman to lead an armed assault in the Civil War. When freedom was won, she dedicated her life to improving the lives of newly freed slaves. As a whole, people generally believe that Tubman was remarkable from her time and continues to live on in the new retelling of her life.
Movies that deal with difficult subjects, such as slavery and freedom, are important to be portrayed respectfully. Cara Kishter, a Junior at Glenelg High School, deeply cares about people’s freedom and advocating for rights. Movies about slavery and freedom are important to Kishter, who says, “Movies that cover topics as hard to stomach [as] slavery can be very beneficial in not only educating its audience on the topic but also aids in making sure these tragedies are not forgotten. By making movies that depict the gruesome realities of slavery, the stories of those who were impacted can help new generations become aware of America’s dark past.” Kishter believes movies about American slavery can not only teach people about Tubman’s life story, but also influence society about America’s past and human rights.
Kishter also depicts this movie as, “more cinematic than what was most likely the reality, and the evil nature of the slave owners was not as gruesome as it was in reality. It is close to impossible to depict the real horrors of slavery, however, the movie doesn’t make light of the desire of slaves to gain freedom. Movies made from Hollywood will always be more cinematic and (perfect) than the events actually were but the heart of the story was still there”. Although people may say this movie portrays the tragic story of Tubman very well, there are mixed opinions on the quality and meaning on how this movie was interpreted and the message behind the story.
Taylor Mac, a homeschooled 17-year-old, had similar opinions about the movie. Although all young people learn about slavery in school, Mac believes, “Younger generations may be less educated at school on topics as old as slavery, even though they have massive impacts on current American society”. This movie will give more exposure about the history of the underground railroad and Tubman herself.
The director, Kasi Lemmons, portrayed her new movie with themes of spiritually, love, and family. She accomplished her goal as the movie captures the heartbreak, courage, and signifigance of escaping slavery through the underground railroad. Lemmons spent seven months being certain she portrayed her movie with the right message of women’s freedom and strength that is Harriet Tubman’s story, and her hard work paid off (New York Times).