Focus Features has released the first official images from the upcoming Harriet Tubman movie Harriet, which reveals Tony Award-winning actress Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale) as the historical figure. The film hails from Black Nativity filmmaker Kasi Lemmons, who also directed episodes of Luke Cage and Shots Fired, working from a screenplay by Lemmons and Gregory Allen Howard (Remember the Titans). The film will chronicle Tubman’s escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves though the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.
While the filmmakers would be well within their rights to take some dramatic license in the story of Tubman as an American hero, they really didn’t have to embellish her story at all. From her early life as a slave in Maryland (a state most people don’t immediately think of when it comes to pre-Civil War-era slavery, but the Mason-Dixon line says otherwise), to her escape to Philadelphia and near-immediate return to liberate her family, followed by her tireless efforts to liberate other slaves, Tubman’s work as an abolitionist is well-known and documented. But it looks like this film will also explore her time with more militarized actions, like her assistance with John Brown‘s raid on Harpers Ferry, working as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, and guiding the raid on Combahee Ferry in 1863, freeing hundreds of slaves.
Tubman’s story needs no ornamentation; it’s just a sad reflection on the state of this country currently that we need a modern incarnation of the hero.
Check out the first Harriet trailer below. The film also stars Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, and Clarke Peters. Focus Features will release Harriet in theaters on November 1st.
Here’s the official synopsis for Harriet:
Based on the story of iconic freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, Harriet follows Tubman on her escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.