//She becomes Moses to the enslaved

She becomes Moses to the enslaved

Film: Harriet (2019).
Director: Kasi Lemmons.
Cast: Cynthia Erivo ,Leslie Odom Jr, Joe Alwyn, Clarke Peters, Vanessa Bell, Calloway, Omar J. Dorsey.
Runtime: 125 minutes.

This Academy award winner recaps the heroic life of the Afro-American heroine Harriet Tubman, the icon of the antislavery struggle of the Pre 1860s America. Harriet saved hundreds of fellow blacks from enslavement through the Underground Railroad organized to help slaves escape from the slave holding south.

Aramita Ross (a k a Minty) born in Maryland was one of the nine children of a freed slave named John Tubman and his wife Harriet. She had been given as a ‘loan’ to the Bordess family while her other sisters had been sold off to other plantations. After a serious head injury sustained in childhood Minty claimed to have divine revelations. She with her mother and sister continued as slaves in the Bordess estate till 1849. Their former master had given Minty’s father a written promise of release for his family.

But when he approaches Old Bordess to redeem the pledge it is promptly refused. Minty, trusting divine intervention, prays for Bordess’s death. The sudden death of Old Bordess leaves his widow and her son, the profligate Gideon in charge of their declining plantation. When Gideon plans to sell her, Minty runs away. But the slave hunters chase her out while trying to cross a bridge. Minty, preferring death over slavery, jumps into the flowing river, and is thought dead. However she survives and with the help of an Underground Railway activist she walks 25 miles on foot to Pennsylvania. She finds refuge with the Anti-Slavery Society along with others.

In honour of her mother and her husband she assumes the name Harriet Tubman and joins the Underground activists to get back to her home in secret to rescue her dear ones. On her secret return she is heartbroken to see her husband now remarried thinking her dead. Harriet survives the emotional trauma and experiences divine visions that call on her to play Moses to the enslaved. She undertakes the dangerous task and makes several trips to conduct slaves to freedom through the wilderness. After many successful attempts, Gideon comes to know of Harriet’s activities under the mysterious name “Moses” the slave stealer. Enraged by the Harriet’s family’s helping a slave stealer, Gideon threatens them. Undaunted, Harriet continues her activities at great risk. During several secret trips she rescues more slaves. Coming to know of the true identity of ‘Moses, ‘Gideon tracks Harriet to Philadelphia along with Bigger Long, another slave hunter. Harriet crosses to Canada. There is a final confrontation between the two in which Harriet traps Gideon at gunpoint and tells him that she won’t give up her cause and will continue her fight. She later took part in the American Civil War.

The movie makes use of the popular freedom song “Wade in the Water” as a leitmotif – one of the celebrated Negro spirituals, evoking the Exodus story.