Synopsis by Bhob Stewart
Jonathan Demme directed this adaptation of Toni Morrison's fact-based fifth novel (winner of a 1988 Pulitzer Prize), written in an experimental stream-of-consciousness flow and capturing the impact and aftermath of slavery on the human soul. In 1873, middle-aged Sethe (Oprah Winfrey) lives near Cincinnati with her teenage daughter, Denver (Kimberly Elise). She gets a surprise visit from her old friend Paul D (Danny Glover), whom she knew when they were both slaves on the Kentucky plantation Sweet Home. Paul D moves in, and a number of mysteries are introduced, including Sethe's memories of her dead older daughter and the fact that Sethe has been abandoned by her husband, two sons, and Denver's grandmother, Baby Suggs (Beah Richards). When a feral, insect-covered, stuttering teenager (Thandie Newton) turns up at Sethe's house, she is nursed back to health by Denver and called "Beloved." Violent flashbacks begin to explore shocking episodes from Sethe's past. (The film is rated R "for violent images, sexuality and nudity.") Hints of the supernatural surface as the question arises -- could Beloved be Sethe's older daughter, back from the dead? This film was a pet project of producer-star Oprah Winfrey, who spent over a decade bringing this work to the screen after she bought the film rights in 1987. With titles fashioned by leading poster/titles designer Pablo Ferro and music by Rachel Portman, director Demme filmed in a variety of locations, including Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Civic Center, Lancaster's Landis Valley Museum), Maryland (Fair Hill Natural Resources Area), and Delaware (Old New Castle).
abandonment, daughter, death, feral-child, friendship, lynching, mother, rape, single-parent, slavery
High Artistic Quality