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Harriet | 2019 | PG-13 | – 2.5.5

content-ratingsWhy is “Harriet” rated PG-13? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “thematic content throughout, violent material and language including racial epithets.” The evaluation includes a few kissing scenes, references to brothels and prostitution, and partial nudity; several scenes of violence toward slaves by slave owners with beatings and shootings with some bloody wounds shown, threats of being sold, many scenes of people running away and being chased by dogs and gunmen, and discussions of children being born into slavery; and at least 1 F-word and other strong language including many derogatory terms for African-Americans. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.”

The chronicle of Harriet Tubman’s life and her own escape from slavery, which led her to dedicate herself to abolishing slavery and to embark on many rescue missions to free enslaved Americans. Her initiative made her one of the most significant members of the Underground Railroad and an inspirational icon of American history. Also with Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Clarke Peters, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Omar J. Dorsey, Henry Hunter Hall, Tim Guinee, Nick Basta, Joseph Lee Anderson, Antonio J Bell, CJ McBath, Alexis Louder, Aria Brooks and Janelle Monáe. Directed by Kasi Lemmons. [Running Time: 2:05]

Harriet SEX/NUDITY 2

 – A woman’s dress is torn and we see part of her bare breast. A woman undresses and we see her bare back. A man removes his shirt and we see his bare back. A woman is shown in a bathtub and we see her bare shoulders and knees as another clothed woman washes her back. A woman pulls her dress open to reveal part of her chest and a scar. A man is shown seated in an outhouse with his pants at his ankles (his bare legs to the hips are seen).
 A husband and his wife kiss and she wraps her legs around his waist as he lifts her off the ground. A husband and his wife kiss and hug. A man tenderly touches a woman’s face as she lies on the ground (she’s unconscious after a blackout) and he kisses her on the forehead. A husband and his wife hug and caress each other’s faces.
 A man says that he is going to use money he earns from catching slaves to buy, “White whores.” A reference is made to a man “…sleeping in brothels.” A man tells a woman, “You’re half dressed,” as he covers her with a blanket. A man is shown wearing women’s clothing and a bonnet while running away from a slave owner.


 – A man chases a woman through a forest, she climbs a rock wall and he shoots at her, she shoots at him, blowing his hat off and another man shoots him in the head (we see a bloody bullet wound on his head). A man and a woman hold each other at gunpoint and the woman shoots the man in the hand (we see his very bloody hand).
 A man beats a woman off-screen and we see her swollen eyes; he punches her in the face three more times and kicks her in the head (we see her face with a lot of blood and cuts and she dies). A man raises a gun on another man and hits him in the face with the gun; we see the man with a very bloody cut on his face and a swollen eye. A woman slaps a man’s hand when he tries to touch her face and he slaps her in the face. A woman slaps another woman across the face and a man holds her by the neck, squeezing; the man then threatens to sell the woman’s two children. A man hits a young man in the face with a gun (we see a bloody gash on his forehead) and he shoots toward the young man but another man knocks the gunman’s hand causing him to miss; the second man kicks the young man in the stomach and yells at him. A man shoots at a woman (she is not struck). A man holds a gun on a young man standing in a road and the young man offers to get him in touch with the “Best slave catcher.” A woman holds a gun on a man and tells him to follow her into a river as he threatens to leave the group. A young man and a woman on horseback ride away as a man shoots at them; the woman shoots back and they get away. A woman ties up a girl and two young men and shoots a gun into the floor near one of them (we see urine trickle onto the floor near one of the young men).
 Many armed men threaten a woman and a man for restitution because a slave that has been helping other slaves to run away came from their farm and they argue; the woman yells that the slave should be caught and “Burned at the stake.” Dogs and men on horseback with guns track and chase a woman as she runs through forests and along a river; she is trapped on a bridge, jumps off into a raging river below and the men chasing her assume that she drowned. A woman jumps in the back of a hay cart and the driver pulls over and tells her to get out. A woman collapses and a man catches her; we then see her in a bed recovering.
 Many runaway slaves run toward soldiers in boats on a river and armed men chase behind them; we see the soldiers taking aim and understand that there was a skirmish (we do not see the action). Many people panic and try to run when they hear that the “Fugitive Slave Act” has been passed and that they have to run farther north to remain free. Several sequences show many people running from trackers to get to Pennsylvania or Canada and to freedom; there are perilous moments with people having to traverse a river, run through forests and evade men with guns on horseback, as well as dogs.
 A woman has flashbacks to seeing her family members being sold; we see them screaming and crying as they are taken away. A woman talks about an overseer throwing a weight at a boy and when she stepped in the way she was struck in the head and that it “Split her head open” (we see a scar on her forehead). A husband tells his wife that he thought she had drowned and that he re-married; she becomes angry and pushes him away. A woman says that her master’s wife branded her with a hot iron and she pulls her dress open to reveal a large burn scar on her chest. We hear a woman scream and understand that a man has died when we see a coffin being lowered into a hole in the ground and mourners are gathered around. Three people argue with a slave owner to allow one of his slaves to be free so that she and her husband can have children who are free; the owner tears up a document that states that the woman should be free under a previous arrangement.
 A woman becomes angry about her son wanting to sell slaves; she says, “Our stature in the community is measured by our number of slaves.” A man posts a sign that advertises a slave for sale. A man speaks to a woman in a disparaging way and says, “Having a favorite slave is like having a favorite pig.” A woman screams, cries, and calls a man names when he refuses to free one of his slaves. A woman tells a young man, “If they beat you again, they’re gonna to kill you.” A slave owner says, “I let him marry her,” referring to a free man marrying one of the owner’s slaves. A man talks about people beating or hobbling a woman, if she is caught. A man talks about a woman being attacked by copperheads or wolves if she runs away. A man tells a woman, “You look half dead.” We hear that a woman trekked 100 miles to freedom. People talk about slave owners being upset about all the runaway slaves and that laws are being passed to “Appease the South.” A man tells a woman that if she is caught, “They will torture you.” A man tells a woman that, “They will tear you limb from limb, tar and feather you and burn you.” A man and woman argue in several scenes. A woman is asked for her papers and quizzed about who she is by a sheriff. A woman asks God why he “Rubbed mud in her face” after discovering that her husband had remarried. A woman tries to convince her sister to leave with her and the sister says, “They took my babies and I won’t leave without them.” A woman describes what slaves go through and says that girls are raped, women are sold from their babies and they are beaten. A woman holds her hand over another woman’s’ mouth to keep her from screaming. A wife tells her husband that she is running away because her owner is going to sell her; she tells him that she doesn’t want him to join her because he is free and he might lose his freedom if they are caught. Slave owners repeatedly threaten to sell slaves and their children. Several people plead with a woman to help them run away from a slave owner and one woman has an infant. We hear that a woman’s sister died. A woman tells another woman that she should bathe because, “You are stinking like a barnyard animal.” A young woman says, “I’m gonna wet myself.”
 Slaves are shown working in a field with an overseer holding a gun and walking around them. Several men are shown chained together and being led away (they are presumably runaway slaves). A woman regains consciousness on a riverbank and coughs up water and saliva (we see both). A woman squats and urinates on the ground (we hear a trickle). A woman’s back and arm is shown with several scars from being beaten. A man takes off his shirt and we see many lash scars on his back. A young woman leans over and gags (we do not see vomit) after a stressful encounter.

Harriet LANGUAGE 5

 – At least 1 F-word, 1 scatological term, 11 mild obscenities, 17 derogatory terms for African-Americans, 1 derogatory term for Caucasians, name-calling (hotheaded, devil, rat, ugly bastard, fool, crazy, dangerous wench, unruly and untamed, reckless, slave stealer, vile, wicked), exclamations (have you lost your mind, oh), 2 religious profanities (GD), 12 religious exclamations (e.g. The Lord Don’t Listen To [derogatory terms for African-Americans deleted], Thank God, God Bless Thee, God Bless You, God Showed Me The Way, God Help Thee, Oh My God, Sweet Jesus, Good Lord, a woman talks about God speaking to her in several scenes). | profanity glossary |


 – A woman with an infant says that she has given her child Laudanum to keep it quiet while they run away. A few men are shown drinking from bottles (presumably alcohol), a man says that another man owes him a whiskey, two men drink brandy, and several people in a meeting hall are shown holding glasses of wine or sherry.


 – Harriet Tubman, slavery, Civil War, emancipation, freedom, Philadelphia, Anti-Slavery Society, The Underground Railroad, trust, liberty, Fugitive Slave Act, Abolitionists, children being born into slavery.


 – Fear is your enemy. God had no intention for people to own people.


Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.

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