“It is not unusual for dramatic license to be taken when a writer or director is creating a narrative based on actual events. However, with Harriet, the recently released biopic of the iconic historical figure Harriet Tubman starring Broadway star Cynthia Erivo and directed by Kasi Lemmons, such creative license has come under scrutiny.”
I’m glad the director Kasi Lemmons did this interview and gave her motivation behind fake characters and false narratives she included in the film, “I was really trying to create a rich and textured portrait of African Americans in America”… in other words, not ‘what actually happened’ but ‘some of what actually happened’ mixed with ‘what could have happened’. The problem is this film is being pushed as a true story of what actually happened when that is not the case: Bigger Long is a fictitious character, yes black bounty hunters could have existed but this one did not, he is a figure of Lemmons’ imagination.Ditto for Janelle Monae’s character. Harriet’s former slaveowner did not save her from Bigger Long, that again is Lemmons’ creative license.
If you saw the movie and enjoyed it, that’s cool. But don’t act like others can’t have a problem with it being pushed as the true story of Harriet Tubman when it is not. This piece admits it is not. Case closed. This controversy is of Lemmons own making. Harriet’s story is powerful enough to stand on its own merit. Lemmons chose to add her own twists. And those twists are keeping people away and hurting this film at the box office.
OK, Fine. Let’s Talk About “Harriet.”
“In looking at what can a black woman bring to the film, I was really trying to create a rich and textured portrait of African Americans in America,” director Kasi Lemmons told BuzzFeed News. Spoilers ahead.