8 Films Similar to Harriet That Deserve Your Attention

‘Harriet’ is a biographical film that chronicles the extraordinary life of Harriet Tubman, an iconic figure in American history renowned for her role in the Underground Railroad. Directed by Kasi Lemmons, the film was released in 2019 and stars Cynthia Erivo in the titular role. The plot unfolds against the backdrop of pre-Civil War America, where Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery and subsequently dedicates her life to liberating others. Erivo’s powerful portrayal captures Tubman’s determination, courage, and unwavering commitment to freedom. The film explores Tubman’s remarkable achievements as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, guiding numerous slaves to safety.

The supporting cast includes Leslie Odom Jr. as William Still, Janelle Monáe as Marie Buchanon, and Joe Alwyn as Gideon Brodess. These performances, coupled with Lemmons’ direction, contribute to a compelling narrative that pays homage to Tubman’s indomitable spirit and her pivotal role in the fight against slavery. ‘Harriet’ received positive reviews for its engaging storytelling, historical accuracy, and Erivo’s standout performance. It serves as a poignant tribute to one of history’s most inspiring figures, shedding light on Tubman’s legacy and her enduring impact on the fight for equality. If you crave more such tales, here are 8 movies like ‘Harriet’ that you must watch.

8. Amistad (1997)

Directed by Steven Spielberg, ‘Amistad’ tells the true story of the 1839 slave revolt on the ship La Amistad, exploring the ensuing legal battles around freedom and justice. Drawing parallels with ‘Harriet,’ the film echoes the harsh realities of slavery and emphasizes the resilience of those fighting for freedom. Starring Djimon Hounsou, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, and Matthew McConaughey, ‘Amistad’ weaves a narrative of collective struggle against oppression. While ‘Harriet’ focuses on one woman’s journey through the Underground Railroad, both films contribute to a profound exploration of African-American history, connecting through themes of resistance and the pursuit of justice.

7. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)

Based on the eponymous book and directed by Justin Chadwick, ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom‘ chronicles Nelson Mandela’s remarkable journey from anti-apartheid activist to South Africa’s first black president. Idris Elba delivers a compelling portrayal of Mandela, capturing the leader’s enduring spirit. The film delves into Mandela’s struggles, imprisonment, and ultimate triumph. Connecting with ‘Harriet,’ both films celebrate indomitable spirits in the face of adversity. While ‘Harriet’ showcases the Underground Railroad’s heroism, ‘Mandela’ paints a poignant picture of resilience against apartheid. Together, they illuminate the enduring legacy of those who fought for freedom and equality in different corners of the world.

6. The Color Purple (1985)

In Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Color Purple,’ the vibrant hues of resilience and self-discovery paint a riveting narrative. Adapted from Alice Walker’s novel, the film introduces us to Celie Johnson (Whoopi Goldberg), as she navigates the complex tapestry of her life in the early 20th-century South. With an ensemble cast including Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover, the film immerses audiences in a compelling exploration of love, sisterhood, and the triumph of the human spirit. Much like ‘Harriet,’ the movie celebrates the strength and fortitude of African-American individuals, offering a mesmerizing journey through the spectrum of emotions that define the pursuit of freedom and self-realization.

5. Glory (1989)

In the epic war drama ‘Glory,’ directed by Edward Zwick, the audience is transported to the Civil War era, where the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the first African-American units, takes center stage. Based on the books ‘Lay This Laurel’ and ‘One Gallant Rush,’ and driven by compelling performances by Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, and Morgan Freeman, the film unfolds a poignant narrative of sacrifice and valor. Zwick’s direction captures the emotional complexity of the characters and the challenges they face on and off the battlefield. Mirroring the spirit of ‘Harriet,’ both films share a thematic thread of African-American resilience, illustrating the profound impact of individuals who fought for their freedom in different historical contexts.

4. Hidden Figures (2016)

Hidden Figures,’ directed by Theodore Melfi celebrates the overlooked contributions of three African-American women mathematicians—Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—at NASA during the Space Race. The film, based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book, underscores their brilliance and resilience in the face of racial and gender discrimination. Mirroring the empowerment theme in ‘Harriet,’ ‘Hidden Figures’ showcases determination in a different arena. The stellar performances, captivating narrative, and historical significance make it a must-watch for those who appreciated the empowering storytelling in ‘Harriet,’ as both films illuminate the often untold stories of remarkable African-American individuals breaking barriers.

3. Selma (2014)

Ava DuVernay’s ‘Selma’ is a poignant portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s pivotal role in the civil rights movement. The film, led by David Oyelowo’s powerful performance, navigates the challenges and triumphs of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches. DuVernay’s direction captures the essence of the struggle for voting rights. If ‘Harriet’ resonated with you, ‘Selma’ offers a complementary narrative, delving into a different chapter of African-American history. Both films showcase the indomitable spirit against injustice, making ‘Selma’ an essential watch for those drawn to stories of courage, activism, and the relentless pursuit of equality and freedom.

2. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974)

Step into the rich tapestry of American history with ‘The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,’ based on Ernest J. Gaines’ eponymous novel. Directed by John Korty, this cinematic gem, starring the incomparable Cicely Tyson, unfolds the incredible journey of a former slave witnessing the winds of change during the Civil Rights Movement. If ‘Harriet’ captivated you with its historical resonance and inspirational narrative, don’t miss the chance to delve into the life of Miss Jane Pittman. It’s a captivating exploration of strength and resilience, connecting seamlessly to the spirit that made ‘Harriet’ an unforgettable journey through the annals of courage and freedom.

1. The Help (2011)

In the cinematic realm, ‘The Help‘ stands as an essential viewing experience for aficionados of ‘Harriet,’ based on Kathryn Stockett’s novel. Tate Taylor’s directorial prowess weaves a narrative tapestry that unfurls in the hot crucible of 1960s Mississippi, unveiling the untold tales of African-American maids. This isn’t just a movie; it’s a revelation, a visceral exploration of societal fault lines and the indomitable spirit of those who defy them. The stellar ensemble, featuring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer, paints each frame with nuanced brilliance. ‘The Help’ isn’t just a film; it’s a mirror reflecting the strength born of shared stories, making it an imperative watch for those hungering for narratives that transcend the screen, much like the resonant echoes found in ‘Harriet.’

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