2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2004
It took me a long time to watch the movie Beloved due to the fact that it wasn't easily available in South Africa, I truelly enjoyed this movie and was really happy with the way it stayed true to the book which is one of my all time favourites, I've read the book so many times I even know most of the lines, I mostly was anxious to see the movie cos I wanted to see how they would manage to bring such a story to life, thankfully I wasn't dissapointed, the only problem I have with the movie was the casting of Danny Glover in the role of Paul Dee, I strongly feel that he spoiled the movie,they would have done better to cast another actor to the role, If you want to see poetry in motion(which I deeply believe the book is) then you have to watch this movie, Bravo to everyone(except Mr Glover but for whom I would have given this film 5 stars)who was involved in the making of this film. Well done for an outstanding protrayal of what I truely believe must have been the hardest novel ever to bring to life.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2002
Most movies are made for purely commercial reasons. Others are a labor of love. It's easy enough to dissect the former. Those in the latter category, such as Beloved, are more challenging for a thinking critic, especially when the labor does not produce a very good movie.
Oprah Winfrey, the undisputed Queen of the TV talk shows, co-produced and starred in the film. It is based on the book by the award-winning writer, Toni Morrison. It has a remarkable cast.
Any story revolving around America just before and after The Civil War is probably uncommercial. The period may have seemed glamorous to the general public in Gone With the Wind in 1939, but that remarkable movie was made two decades prior to the Civil Rights Movement. Nowadays, that period of history is one that is painful for either race to dwell on. Slavery was rightfully ended, but equality came much too slowly.
Beloved is the story of Sethe [Winfrey], a former slave who escaped to freedom in Ohio during the war. She is forced to leave behind her family and the man she loves. What she cannot escape are the nightmare memories of her former life. Her new world is soon marred by a tragic event which will haunt her [literally] for the rest of her life.
Sixteen years after she begins her life in Ohio, another ex-slave from the same plantation shows up. He is Paul D. [Danny Glover], who knew her well then, but knows nothing of her life as a free woman. She takes him in, and he tries to bring some joy to the life of her young daughter, Denver [Kimberly Elise]. Their lives are soon thrown into turmoil by the arrival of a girl with no memory of her past. This is Beloved [Thandie Newton], who may or may not be Sethe's other daughter.
Sadly, the picture is marred by several technical flaws. The main problem is with the source material. Some authors write in a manner which is not possible to translate easily to film. Toni Morrison, for example, uses flashbacks, dream sequences and illusions. The movie's writers, as well as director Jonathan Demme, seem lost as to how to handle these important elements. The result disappoints who have read the book and is almost indecipherable to those who have not.
While I admire brevity, a quality I do not possess, I rarely care how long a movie runs, as long as it has something to say. Beloved takes nearly three hours to unfold. A more inspired production could have said it all in two hours or less.
Still, there are moments that shimmer, thanks largely to the artistic cinematography of Tak Fujimoto. Rachel Portman wrote an evocative musical score. Both Kimberley Elise and Thandie Newton are young actresses of immense talent. Both do what they can with their confining roles. Winfrey and Glover have some other great movies to their credit, and we assume they will have more in the future.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2001
Unequivocally one of the best films ever made. I read BELOVED before I saw the movie and to everyone who said they "loved" the book but did not understand the film, you obviously did not understand what you were reading to begin with. Toni Morrison's talent is undeniable so you can save your praises. Oprah Winfrey read the book in one sitting and then called Toni Morrison about some parts she didnt understand and after Toni's explanation she said she was going to make it into a film. I think Oprah who read the book several times and people with common sense understand the metaphorical meanings that BELOVED represents. I think the main reason as to why BELOVED the film was not well received by the mainstream is because you have to have a heart in order to feel a heart. And too many individuals are callous and self-absorbed. After all, this is the country that enslaved millions of people, tortured them, tore thier families apart, stripped them of thier culture, raped and brutalized black women and men to this day. Furthermore, legalized slavery would still exist in this country but now its on a more insidious level that is just as if not more destructive. I believe Jonathan Demme wanted to direct BELOVED because he seems like a good person who did not let his society define him. I think people(especially of caucasian decent) allow themselves to read novels without ever being moved by them because its like they're disconnected but can enjoy the language of a writer yet at the same time not allow themselves to be moved by the subject matter to do something in relation to it. And that is true of film as well. But because movies are more blatant, when watching a movie such as BELOVED, the core of who you are, whoever that might be rises to the surface. I guess thats why Oprah kept saying that watching BELOVED is an experience. But most people and her main audience didnt care to see it anyway. But BELOVED'S premonition was that evil and ignorance would still persist from the PEOPLE WITHOUT SKIN.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2001
Beloved is one of the best films I have ever seen dealing with the controversial and often ignored issue of slavery. It is ignored because, as many critics have pointed out it is something both white and black people in the United States try very hard to forget. This probably explains why this film did not do that well on its theatrical release. In following Toni Morrison's novel very closely the film thoroughly succeeds as a literary adaptaion. The film has been criticised for being disjointed and incomprehensible however one cannot begin to imagine the suffering of slaves, and the total incomprehensibility of why this horrifying violence and abuse had to be carried on their shoulders. Slavery at the very least left slaves, even freed ones, psychologically scarred, bewildered, confused and lost from their culture and their families. One can hardly expect a film attempting to deal with these issues then to be straight forward. The perfromances are all excellent particularly from Winfrey and Glover but also from Elise and Newton. Newton in particular is superb at portraying a tormented incarnation of a baby ghost locked inside the body of an eighteen year old, trying to discover, who she is, how she can characterise herself without having known her mother, her family or why she was left behind. Her struggle is symbolic of all slaves, trying to find their identity as African-Americans in a country which, at that time did not even recognise them as people but as, one of the characters describes Sethe, animals. My only negative comment about the film is that it wasn't long enough to deal with the issues thoroughly but then no film ever has or can in regards to slavery. That is a minor complaint. See it and judge for yourself.
on June 30, 2003
Johnathan Demme is a brilliant director (proof: this film and "Silence of the Lambs") who is capable of creating eerie spectrums of character and images that will continue to haunt long after the film is over. Oprah Winfrey (to all of our shock and amazement) is an unbelievably wonderful actress (proof: this film and "The Color Purple") who should appear in many more films, but, undoubtedly, is preoccupied elsewhere. I nearly wish she would stop her talk show and become a full-time actress, she needs to make more feature film appearances. Danny Glover is able to show an indefinable range of character (proof: this film and the fact that he has also been in the "Lethal Weapon" 4some as well as appear in a role as profound as "The Color Purple"). Thandie Newton is a rising star that brightens up the screen even with a dark and moody performance, and should be noted as a powerhouse screen presence in the making. Every player brings a large helping of vision to this book-turned-film adaptation. There are so many layers in this 3-hr drama that you could (and I have) watch it 5 times and take an entirely different view away once it has ended. Brilliant film. Sorely snubbed by Oscar when it came to production, writing, and acting. This is what a real film is supposed to look like. Filmmakers: watch and learn:-)
on March 15, 2002
but they do make a good go of it. Winfrey's acting, the sets, the costuming-- all of these things are fabulous. I'm not sure that you would understand where Beloved comes from if you haven't read the book, or where she goes. I'm also not sure you quite get the relationships between women, which are crucial, in the movie. You also miss the difficult but genius "middle passage" section of the book. BUT I know, books and movies are different.
This is a ghost story, and just didn't leave me feeling creepy enough. I don't know what would have been better, but something was missing of the chills down the spine variety. Still, this is a great movie, and I think Oprah's version of the "tree" on Sethe's back is probably worth watching the movie for in itself. And, one thing that made sense finally for me which I didn't get in the book was when the men "took her milk." A big lightbulb went on in my head-- oh!! So it's definitely a watcher, if not a "buyer."
on March 3, 2002
When a Hard Working Woman named Sethe (Oprah Winfrey) tries to forget about her Dark Abused Past. When she meets a Odd young Unsitable Woman (Thandie Newton) comes to live at her home with the family, the Husband-Paul (Danny Glover) and her daughter-Denver (Kimberly Elise) come to accept her. But as it turns out that the Odd young Woman behaving in Child-Like and Walking Awkwardly but Sethe becomes to know her well, there`s something in her past about this Strange Woman.
Directed by Oscar-Winner:Johathan Demme (Something Wild, The Silence of the Lambs, Phildelphia) made a intense drama, which is Well Acted but the Uneasy mixed with the Supernatural Theme might be a real letdown by Modern Audiences. The film is Stylish and Well Done. The Film's True High-Light is the Cinematography by Tak Fujimoto (The Sixth Sense). This is a Evociate Prose and Emotionally danse story but this is not for Everyone but Those who like the Critically Acclaimed Novel by Toni Morrison, will likely to Enjoy this Underrated Adapation of this Movie. Look Sharp for Actor:Wes Bentley (American Beauty). Charles Napier and Jason Robards appears Unbilled. Grade:B+.
on September 11, 2001
Beloved is a true masterpiece. I saw it in the theater about four times because I was so profoundly moved by this film. It has some of the greatest performances in cinema history. Especially Thandie Newton, Oprah Winfrey, Kimberly Elise, Danny Glover, Beah Richards, and Lisa Gaye Hamilton. People's reaction to the film shows the level of ignorance, hatred, and sheer evil that still exists in this country. It is so offensive to me that the African Holocaust has been intentionally ignored because racist idiots contol the media and privileged white people dont want to see themselves for who they really are and where they come from. The response to Beloved is just a reflection on American society as a whole. Which seems to ignore truth, perpetuate evil and ignorance in all facets of life and continue to pass it down to thier children. Everyone involved with Beloved should recieve some sort of special recognition award for the blatant absence of Beloved at all the publicized award shows in 1999.
Beloved will remain just as truth always does.
on April 27, 2001
Before I begin my review of the atrocity that is Oprah Winfrey's Beloved, let me just say that I am a horror movie fan. I've watched many terrible, gory films. However, there has never been a film so hideous that I simply couldn't finish it, no matter how hard I willed myself. That, however, was before I saw THIS. I honestly have no idea where to begin insulting this film because there are so many things wrong with it. Let it just be said that this is a perfect example of what happens when a self indulgent star, a self indulgent director, a pompous cinematographer, and a clueless screenwriter are given carte blanche to film whatever they chose. The result is a terribly photographed, incoherent, ugly, violent, three hour soup opera with no apparent purpose other to repulse the audience. Worse, the film is painstakingly loyal to Morrison's book. Characters seem to spew bodily fluids at intervals of about ten minutes and these include: puss, blood, urine, drool, feces, vomit, and in a very graphic scene, birth fluid. This would be much easier to stomach if the acting were good, and some of it is. Unfortunately, the few decent performances are underscored by lots of terrible ones. Particularly, the scenes involving Beloved are rendered unintentionally hilarious by her zombie like schtic of drooling, talking as though severly mentally retarded, and screaming hysterically while looking directly into the camera. Another female character who supposedly helps Sethe escape slavery in the first place runs around ranting incoherently about velvet and overemoting like a manic depressive on hard drugs. As if all this weren't enough, the director and cinematographer seem intent upon overstylizing every single shot. Some shots are colored and executed so conspicuously that one wonders if the actors weren't tempted to stop midway through and say: "by the way, this shot took a lot of work to create, so you better enjoy it". The result is blatantly manipulative and borderline unwatchable. Finally, the music in this film is terrible. Scene after scene is illustrated by the same stereotypical african american "gospel" singing which starts out as pretty, becomes intrusive, and then gets annoying. Soon, even this feels contrived, and we are left just wishing scenes would end. Ultimately, I have one point and only one point to make: DO NOT SEE THIS FILM, DO NOT RENT THIS FILM, DEFINITELY DO NOT LET YOUR CHILDERN SEE IT. If you do you will suffer worse than any of the characters depicted.
on February 7, 2001
I had such high hopes for this film, having read the novel and finding it to be one of the most beautifully written and poetic books I've ever read. Toni Morrison's award-winning BELOVED is a tough read but a rewarding one.
I'm giving the movie version two stars because of the attempt at making this book a film. I know that most movies pale in comparison to their paper inspirations, but this is a book that shouldn't have -- couldn't have -- been made into a quality adaption. Yes, you could make it a good slave/ghost story, but to keep out the beauty of Morrison's language and sentence structuring would be a travesty. Kudos for Demme to realize this, but by trying to involve the poetry and style of the novel, he's made a mess of a film. And the beautiful and talented Thandie Newton is ... distracting. Her personification of Beloved borders on comical every time she tries to communicate with other characters. Some things are better left to the reader's mind I guess.
I highly recommend everyone reads BELOVED the novel, then you will understand how poorly the screen adaption is.