Today, Focus Features released the first trailer for Harriet, a biopic about the famed abolitionist and American hero Harriet Tubman. Eve’s Bayou director Kasi Lemmons helmed the flick, which stars Broadway sensation Cynthia Erivo in the titular role and features fellow theater mainstay Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monáe, and Joe Alwyn as supporting characters.
The film tells Tubman’s life story–she was born into slavery in Maryland, escaped and broke free to Philadelphia, and then dedicated herself to rescuing other slaves, helping people through the Underground Railroad. She was an armed spy who made several dangerous missions both before and during the Civil War, and Lemmons’s film doesn’t seem to water anything down, showing the acute threats and brutality that Tubman faced throughout her life.
“God don’t mean people to own people,” says Erivo as Tubman in the preview. “I will give every last drop of blood in my veins until this monster called slavery is dead.”
The trailer is riveting, and Harriet, set for a November 1st release, is already garnering awards buzz. There are Oscar rumors regarding Erivo, a major talent who broke into movie acting in films like Widows and Bad Times at the El Royale. And the entire film is stacked with the best of the best: musician Terence Blanchard, who received his first Oscar nod for last year’s BlacKkKlansman, composed the Harriet score, the Emmy-winning designer Paul Tazewell designed the costumes, and cinematographer John Toll, who won back-to-back Oscars for his work on Legends of the Fall and Braveheart shot the project. Lemmons penned the script with Remember the Titans writer Gregory Allen Howard.