Reviewed by: Trish Dick
Edited by: Ken James
“Beloved,” starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover, will surely be a film contending for Academy Awards. However, this intense portrayal of slavery is just too much for most people to handle and not recommended.
In fact, I felt sick when I left the movie theatre. This is, apparently, a true story and the human degredation and suffering is horrific. “Beloved” also portrays a very realisitic element in the spiritual sense, showing how the demonic world can have very real effects and consequences on the lives of humans.
This story depicts slavery in its cruelest and probably most realistic form. Sethe (Oprah Winfrey) manages to escape a life of slavery from a degrading slave master in Kentucky. She heads toward Ohio and toward freedom in the post-Civil War era. Having understood the horrors of slavery first hand, she fears that her children may be enslaved to a bitter similar fate. Unable to picture this destiny for her children, she kills one of them.
The soul of Sethe’s youngest daughter is at unrest after the killing and returns to earth in demonic form, first as a disruptive spirit and then as a disturbed woman, “Beloved”. Sethe, her lover Paul D (Danny Glover) and teenage daughter Denver (Kimberly Elise) do not want to see the demonic occurances. They choose instead (because of their own guilt and desires) to allow Beloved to seduce them, each according to their desire. The women of the village, however, understand that this is a spiritual battle and do their best to remove this demon from their lives.
This movie is not at all uplifting or encouraging. While “Beloved” espouses truth in many ways (slavery, the dark spiritual world, a mother’s love for her family, the dignity of black people as they struggled for freedom, etc.) it could open dark doors that should remain closed. In “Beloved”, Sethe is set free from her past by speaking and confessing the truth. Her two daughters are also set free—one from disillusionment and one from a brutal murder. Graphic nudity, sexual content, and violence are abundant (slave owners sucking on a pregnant Sethe’s breasts, female genital nudity, frontal female nudity, male rear nudity, bedroom scenes, whippings, hanging, etc.). While there is no obscene language, there are about a dozen instances of profanity. While “Beloved” may have been realistic and was certainly an epic performance, the message could have been portrayed effectively without the overabundance of objectionable content. Disappointing and not recommended.
Year of Release—1998