Movies

Now showing in Taos: ‘Harriet’

Biography of American hero Harriet Tubman comes along at just the right time

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 12/6/19

Clearly, director Kasi Lemmons had a monumental weight thrust upon her shoulders to depict the life and times of American hero Harriet Tubman (1822-1913). In every scene, one feels the director's intense desire to "get it right" because the world would certainly judge every frame and utterance for their authenticity and faithfulness to this important, yet largely unknown, historical figure.

You have exceeded your story limit for this 30-day period.

Please log in to continue

Log in
Movies

Now showing in Taos: ‘Harriet’

Biography of American hero Harriet Tubman comes along at just the right time

Posted

Clearly, director Kasi Lemmons had a monumental weight thrust upon her shoulders to depict the life and times of American hero Harriet Tubman (1822-1913). In every scene, one feels the director's intense desire to "get it right" because the world would certainly judge every frame and utterance for their authenticity and faithfulness to this important, yet largely unknown, historical figure.

Surprisingly, it is also the first movie to be made solely about Tubman.

Lemmons portrays Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) as a woman to whom greatness is bestowed not because she sought it, but who found it conferred as a result of her passionate desire for freedom. She is probably best known as a candidate for depiction on a $20 bill, but the reason — a slave-turned-abolitionist who freed 70 fellow slaves on the Underground Railroad, spied for the Union Army and even led military raids during the Civil War — is somehow less known.

These are not easy traits to illustrate without falling into well-worn stereotypes; and Lemmons is mostly successful, but there are a few moments when it feels like we’re watching more of a high-end TV movie than a serious feature about someone deservedly revered by so many Americans. But, where Lemmons scores best is in the not-so-subtle projection that freedom is a fragile thing, not easily won, and something held precious by those who grasp it after never having known it. It speaks to immigration issues, to headlines about race and the ugly resurgence of white supremacy, to a belief that a spiritual grounding in universal ideals is the answer to fighting this intransigence.

To say this film comes along at the right time is an understatement.

The film is more or less a chronology of Tubman’s life beginning with her years as a slave run by struggling plantation owner Edward Brodess of Dorcester County, Maryland.

Back then, she was known as Araminta Ross or “Minty” for short. The film reveals that although her mother was a slave, she was married to a free man. Apparently, this was not uncommon. She was illiterate all her life. After Brodess dies, the owner’s family find themselves in dire financial straights and talk about selling off some slaves to make up the difference. But before they do that, Minty runs off.

Literally running for days while hunted by armed men, she finally makes it to freedom in Philadelphia, where she discovers the existence of the Underground Railroad. This is a secret network of former slaves and associates who help other slaves escape to freedom. To mark this new chapter in her life Minty decides to create for herself a "freedom name" in 1849. From then on, she calls herself Harriet Tubman to honor her mother and her husband.

Lemmons picks up on a real-life occurrence and adds a supernatural element to Tubman’s ability to escape capture during her many forays back into the South to free slaves. The real Tubman suffered a serious head injury when she was young. After that she was said to suffer occasional seizures and hallucinations, which continued throughout her life. Lemmons takes these to be premonitions and shows how they influenced her stealthy movements. She also depicts Tubman as deeply religious partly because she believed it was God speaking to her through these visions.

Lemmons' film is to be commended for revealing a historical character of deep importance to the cause of freedom – no matter the race, color or creed of those who watch it.

Tempo grade: B+

“Harriet” is rated PG-13 for thematic content throughout, violent material and language including racial epithets.
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos.

The Lighthouse
MPAA rating: R for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language.
Taos Community Auditorium
This film from director and co-writer Robert Eggers (“The Witch”) follows two lighthouse keepers (portrayed by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) who start to lose their sanity when a storm strands them on the remote island on which they are stationed. It stars Robert Pattinson as Ephraim Winslow/Thomas Howard, a young lighthouse keeper and former lumberjack; Willem Dafoe as Thomas Wake, an elderly lighthouse keeper and former sailor; and Valeriia Karamän as The Mermaid.
This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 1) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Dec. 2-4) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

Judy
MPAA rating: PG-13 for substance abuse, thematic content, some strong language, and smoking.
Storyteller 7 Theatres
Winter 1968 and showbiz legend Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger) arrives in swinging London to perform a five-week sold-out run at The Talk of the Town. It is 30 years since she shot to global stardom in “The Wizard of Oz,” but if her voice has weakened, its dramatic intensity has only grown.
As she prepares for the show, battles with management, charms musicians and reminisces with friends and adoring fans, her wit and warmth shine through. Even her dreams of love seem undimmed as she embarks on a whirlwind romance with Mickey Deans (Finn Wittrock), her soon-to-be fifth husband.
Director Rupert Goold’s film features some of her best-known songs as it celebrates the voice, the capacity for love, and the sheer pizzazz of "the world's greatest entertainer."
It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Comments


Private mode detected!

In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.