Study enough history and you quickly cotton on to the fact that the real world takes leaps of plausibility that fiction writers would balk at. And so it is with the story of real-life heroine Harriet Tubman: escaped enslaved person, Underground Railroad agent, Civil War commander and spy, and basically a real-life superhero. For real, she even had a secret identity: she was called Moses because she, like the biblical prophet, led her people out of oppression.
According to director Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou), who co-wrote the script with Gregory Allen Howard (Remember the Titans), slave owners in the antebellum southern United States could not believe for a second that a black woman was responsible for spiriting away so many runaways to safety in Canada; at best Moses was a black man, but more likely a white abolitionist. But no, it’s the titular Harriet who, as played by British actor Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale), is steely, stoic and iconic, although she falls somewhat short of coming across as a fully-rounded human being.