One of the greatest untold stories in United States cinematic history, far and away, is that of Harriet Tubman. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped at the age of 27, returned 13 times to rescue over 70 people, recruited men for John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and became an armed spy and nurse for the United States Army, before spending the rest of her life working for women’s suffrage. She was even going to appear on the $20 bill, before certain individuals decided it would be better to keep a nightmare man who attacked banks, courts, African-Americans, and Native Americans. However, despite all these accomplishments, she has never experienced a major motion picture depiction of her remarkable story. Thankfully, after years in production, director and actress Kasi Lemmons has finally managed to get the story on the big screen, and boy does it look good.
In 1949, Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) finally manages to escape from the wicked Edward Brodess (Joe Alwyn) and find her way to freedom in the North. Finally free from bondage, Tubman begins to feel guilt over those she left behind. And over the objections of her friends William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Marie (Janelle Monáe), Harriet sets out to rescue her friends and family. And so begins a lifetime of heroism, as Tubman battles injustice at every turn and consistently thwarts attempts from the South to both capture her and secede from the United States of America.
This is one of those weird trailers, the ones that are both exciting and kind of a letdown at the same time. On the one hand, this seems to be a pretty mundane trailer, hitting mostly the key points in a way we’ve seen in everything from Darkest Hour to Bohemian Rhapsody (to varying degrees of success). On the other hand, this is such a fascinating story, it’s hard to imagine this film failing to impress. And that’s not to mention the performances – Erivo looks incredible, and I’m impressed by Odom Jr., Alwyn, Monáe, and an actress I can only assume based on the Wikipedia entry is country singer Jennifer Nettles. I have faith that this film will be one of the talks of both the Toronto International Film Festival and the Oscar season to come. The film will be released November 1st, and you can watch the full trailer below.