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Beloved is a film based on Toni Morrison's eponymous Pulitzer-Prize-winning 1987 novel. It was directed by Jonathan Demme, and was produced by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions. The film stars Winfrey and Danny Glover.

Plot

The story, set shortly after the Civil War, revolves around Sethe, a former slave living on the outskirts of Cincinnatimarker. When the film begins, an angry poltergeist is terrorizing Sethe and her three children. After Sethe temporarily soothes the angry spirit, her two sons run away from home, never to return.

Ten years later, Sethe (Oprah Winfrey), who by this time lives alone with her daughter Denver (Kimberly Elise), runs into Paul D. (Danny Glover), an old friend from Sweet Home, the plantation Sethe escaped from many years earlier. She invites him into the house where he encounters the angry spirit head-on. Paul D. stands his ground with the spirit, driving it off. After everything in the house calms down, Paul D. and Sethe have passionate sex in her bedroom. Paul D. then proposes to Sethe that he should stay and they could "build a life." Sethe responds favorably.

Shortly after Paul D. moves in, a young woman (Thandie Newton) stumbles into Sethe's yard, falling into a deep sleep and loudly snoring beneath a tree. She is clean and well groomed, dressed in black funeral clothes. Sethe and Denver take an immediate liking to the mysterious stranger, bringing her into the house and laying her in bed. Paul D., on the other hand, is suspicious; he wonders how someone who traveled such a long way could be so clean or have such soft, well-maintained feet.

When the visitor awakes, she demands food in a voice that is croaky with disuse. When the women ask her name, she spells it out for them Beloved.

Denver, who has experienced social isolation as the result of the goings on in the house, is especially happy to have Beloved around, spending many hours playing and talking with the young woman. One night, Beloved reveals her otherworldly origins. Denver, who immediately realizes the importance of Beloved's confession, asks her never to tell Sethe who she really is. Beloved nastily informs her that she came to the house to see Sethe, not her, and that Denver is never to tell her what to do. However, Beloved does apologize to Denver once she realizes that she has hurt her feelings and the two young women quickly make up.

Shortly after, Beloved, sensing that Paul D. dislikes her, casts a spell on him that renders him powerless and sexually assaults him. Paul D. resolves to tell Sethe about what happened only to change his mind and ask Sethe to have a baby with him. Sethe, despite misgivings about her age, eagerly accepts his proposal.

Paul D. then tells a co-worker, Stamp Paid (Albert Hall) about his plans. Stamp Paid, who has known Sethe for many years, pulls an old newspaper clipping about Sethe out of his pocket. Paul D., who can't read, then asks Stamp Paid to tell him the story behind the clipping.

During a flashback, it is revealed that Sethe had run away from Sweet Home after a particularly brutal beating. Sethe had been sexually assaulted at the instigation of Schoolteacher, the owner of Sweet Home, by several of the farm hands. She complained to Mrs. Garner, Schoolteacher's wife, who confronted him about what happened. Schoolteacher then ordered the field hands to whip her. Heavily pregnant with her fourth child, Sethe arranges to have her three older children sent ahead to Cincinnati to live with their paternal grandmother, Baby Suggs (Beah Richards). After the children are gone, Sethe plans to slip off in the night with her husband where they will make their way to the Ohio River, rendezvous with Stamp Paid, and cross into Ohio.

When her husband fails to show, Sethe runs off alone. She then crosses path with Amy Denver, a kind white woman who attends to Sethe's numerous injuries and delivers Sethe's child. She promises to name the baby Denver before Amy helps her cross the river. After arriving in Ohio, Sethe meets up with Stamp Paid, who delivers her to Baby Suggs' house. Although she is dismayed to discover that her husband never made it to his mother's house, she is overjoyed to be reunited with her children.

However, her happiness is short-lived. Slaves catchers are tipped off that Sethe is living with Baby Suggs. They come to the house to arrest Sethe. Sethe in her desperation murders her older daughter by slitting her throat with a saw. She had already knocked her sons unconscious and nearly killed Denver by swinging her through the air by her ankles. Stamp Paid manages to catch the baby before her head strikes the ground.

Paul D., horrified by the revelation and suddenly understanding the origin of the poltergeist, confronts Sethe. Sethe unapologetically justifies her actions saying that the baby was better off dead than enslaved. Paul D. departs shortly thereafter, something that does not upset Sethe or the other women all that much.

After Paul D. leaves, Sethe, Denver and Beloved are sitting by the fire when Beloved starts to hum a tune which catches Sethe's attention. Sethe says only she and her children knew it. Then, when Beloved bends her head back, Sethe sees a scar running along her neck. At this point, Sethe realizes that Beloved is the reincarnation of her dead daughter. Feeling a mix of elation and guilt, Sethe spends all her money on elaborate gifts for her daughters. After all the money is spent, however, Beloved demands more gifts, having an extremely destructive tantrum when she realizes that they will no longer be forthcoming.

Several months later, Beloved's malevolent presence causes living conditions in the house to deteriorate. The women live in complete squalor. Sethe has had a complete nervous breakdown, losing her job in the process. Consequently, there is little food to eat. Beloved, who has taken to walking around nude, is noticeably pregnant from her encounter with Paul D. Denver, even more ashamed than she had been before, almost completely withdraws from Sethe and Beloved, who are ignoring her anyway. However, Denver does work up the nerve to leave the house and seek employment.

After she gets a job, her new co-worker arranges to have women from the local church to come pray for the family. When the women show up and begin to loudly sing and pray, Beloved disappears completely. Sethe, freed from Beloved's grip, becomes permanently bedridden, relying on Denver to support her financially.

Some months later, Paul D. encounters Denver at the marketplace. He notices that she has made quite a transformation: she speaks with confidence, maturity, and sincerity. She tells him that he can visit her mother, but to be careful of how he speaks to her. Later, Paul D. arrives to find Sethe lying in her room. She is clearly suffering from a deep malaise. Paul D. assures Sethe that he will now take care of her, along with Denver. Sethe doesn't see the point, as Beloved is gone and she was her "best thing." Paul D. disagrees, telling Sethe that she, in fact, is her own best thing.

Cast



Cast notes:
  • Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover had previously appeared together in The Color Purple.


Production

Oprah Winfrey bought the rights to Toni Morrison's novel in 1987, even before it won the Pulitzer Prize. It took her ten years to bring the novel to the screen.

Response

The critical reception was generally positive. Positive reviews tended to mention the acting (People, Rolling Stone) and the visuals of the movie.

The box office performance was expected to be good but it turned out to be disappointing. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone blamed overhyping of the movie.

Awards and honors



  • Chicago Film Critics
    • Most Promising Newcomer: Kimberly Elise (Winner)
    • Best Supporting Actress: Kimberly Elise (Nominated)
    • Best Cinematography: Tak Fujimoto (Nominated)


  • Image Awards
    • Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture: Danny Glover (Winner)
    • Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture: Oprah Winfrey (Nominated)
    • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Beah Richards (Nominated)
    • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Kimberly Elise (Nominated)
    • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Thandie Newton (Nominated)
    • Outstanding Motion Picture: (Nominated)


See also



External links




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