In the end, there were two Oscar nominations for the Harriet Tubman biopic HARRIET – THE PATH TO FREEDOM. And the fact that a film with this subject only comes up with two shows how much is wrong with this portrait of a slave liberator. We reveal more about this in our review.
Harriet hopes for revenge alongside William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.).
The irritating esoteric insertions also massively depress Harriet Tubman’s actual performance. If the film makes it seem as if the main character is following some kind of divine inspiration that helps him avoid certain pitfalls in his escape, then the makers are stretching the premise of a true story to the limit. You have to imagine this: Harriet Tubman, with an iron will and incredible physical strength, achieves an almost impossible human feat – and in terms of staging, what stands out are those scenes in which her act is not the result of self-sacrifice, but rather an otherworldly inspiration. It’s not even clear from the character of Harriet herself why the scenes, which overall have more of a TV look than a cinema look, suddenly have a kind of fantasy over-stylization. It’s just like that – and in the next moment the problem of disorientation is solved.
“If the film makes it seem as if the main character is following some kind of divine inspiration that helps him avoid certain pitfalls in his escape, then the makers are stretching the premise of a true story to the limit.”
This is almost reminiscent of the countless Christian propaganda films that really want to beat the existence of God into your head. And we don’t want to judge this genre again at this point – we’ve done that enough elsewhere. Here the contrast to the shocking fate of Harriet, but also of her many fellow prisoners, is simply so enormous that you can still hear the shattered Oscar dreams bursting in the cinema.
Conclusion: If you believe the descriptions in “Harriet: The Road to Freedom,” Harriet Tubman was a former slave who, with the help of godlike inspiration, mastered the exciting adventure of freeing slaves. The fact that this is actually about a dramatic fate and the heroic deeds of a woman who moves forward with an iron will is never made clear.
“Harriet – The Road to Freedom” can be seen in USA cinemas from July 9th.