An excerpt from my script review for Harriet which will be available 11/04/19:
4.) Dialogue and Description
The description was fine, but what hit me was some of the dialogue.
HARRIET & SLAVES (OVER)
So the God said: go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land
Tell all pharaohs to
Let my people go!
Assuming most Southern slave owners were probably also Christian, it made me stop and think, they obviously know the story of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, but they somehow still rationalized owning other humans.
SHERIFF NED UTLEY
… I know some of you
are itching to have a chance at her; to
make her pay for what she done to your
fortune and family. Rest assured, she
will be tried and executed by the
harshest methods available, as dictated
by the laws of the State of Maryland!
Think about that. These “owners” really did feel like they were wronged by people simply wanting to be free and leaving to be so.
Genuinely believed it was okay to own another human being.
Today some younger generations might find that baffling, but when we stop and think about it, the majority felt it was their right to do so, and didn’t secretly feel bad about it, just accepted it as everyday life.
It didn’t have to end like this, Minty.
You could’a stayed with us, if you only
knew how to behave. But you were so
damned insolent. Unruly and untamed. I
guess that’s what I liked about you. And
you liked me too, I know you did. You
prayed over my bed, when I was sick. You
asked God to make me well.
Again, Gideon, the voice of southern slave owners, believed this. That’s a crazy realization. He’s actually chastising her for wanting to be free, shit, accusing her of being a criminal for running away.
Our country may not have race relations perfected, but I gotta believe we’ve turned a corner on this.
Aside from that, there was also one of Harriet’s relatives that rung true.
Don’t you judge her, Minty. Don’t you
dare judge us! We do what we have to do,
to stay sane. Cain’t everybody run.
Although all might have yearned for freedom, some had to live in the real world and couldn’t. This also made me think on the fact that some slaves might have had to really stay behind and their reasons were justified, like Rachel and her children.
Lastly, some of the dialogue wasn’t the best. It felt like we were hearing characters talking about things Harriet was doing instead of seeing more than just a montage.
Although not a direct example, one portion that bored me to tears was the Underground Railroad meeting, where Will is introducing her to everyone, and felt like a perfect example of why we should “come in late” to meetings like this as writers.
Most of the people being introduced on page 67 weren’t key players in the story and only received a passing mention later on.
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