Alex Haley's Queen  (1993)

 

 

Director:     John Erman.

Starring:     Christopher Allport ( Union Officer),  Ann-Margret ( Sally Jackson),  Bob Banks  (Slave #1),  Suzi Bass (Server),  Halle Berry (Queen),  Dan Biggers (George),  Kenny Blank (Henry at 11),  Lane Bradbury,  Leo Burmester (Henderson),  Jerry Campbell (White Man #1),  Patricia Clarkson (Lizzie),  Frances Conroy (Mrs. Benson),  Tim Daly (Col. James Jackson Jr.),  Ossie Davis (Parson Dick),  David Dwyer (Policeman),  Michael Edwards (Judge),  Tom Even (Male Guard),  Victor Garber (Digby),  Sue Ann Gilfillan,  Danny Glover (Alec Haley),  Ed Grady (Doctor),  John Griesemer (Doctor),  George Grizzard (Mr. Cherry),  Tim Guinee (Wesley),  Jasmine Guy (Easter),  Linda Hart (Mrs. Henderson),  Dennis Haysbert (Davis),  Tommy Hollis (Fred),  Martin G. James (Young Confederate Soldier),  Richard Jenkins (Mr. Benson),  Christine Jones (Sarah Jackson),  Erik King,  Jane Krakowski (Jane),  Ron Leggett (Guard),  Patrick Malone (Simon),  Peter Maloney (Perkins),  James McDaniel,  Lonette McKee (Alice),  Bob Minor (Poor Black Man),  Daryl Mitchell (Abner),  Charlotte Moore (Mrs. Perkins),  Danny Nelson (Warden),  Alan North (Bishop),  Tom Nowicki (Kirkman),  Mary Nell Santacroce (Woman at Coachstop),  Martin Sheen (James Jackson Sr.),  Madge Sinclair (Dora),  Lonnie R. Smith (Redneck #2),  Jussie Smollett (Simon, age 11),  Sada Thompson,  Lorraine Toussaint (Joyce),  Eric Ware ( Micah),  Annabelle Weenick (Female Guard),  Elizabeth Wilson,  Paul Winfield (Cap'n Jack),  Samuel E. Wright (Alfred),  Raven-Symon (Queen (age 5).

in this mini-series the writer of Roots tells the story of his paternal grandmother, whose father was a Civil War-era slave owner

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire mini-series:

 

Part I. 

This is the story of writer Alex Haley's mother's family.  On the plantation some of the slave women and child are swimming.  Three young white men tell the slaves to get out of the water.  James Jackson Jr., son of the slave owner master, arrives on horseback and tells the fellows to stop harassing the slaves. One of the men calls James a "nigger lover" and hits James.  James starts getting the better of the man, when the two other men grab James and let the first man beat James into submission. 

Mrs. Perkins is upset about an up-coming wedding of the President's slave, Alfred, to Miss Gracie.  She does not approve of whites and blacks attending the same wedding even if they remain with their own kind.  James will be taking the family to Nashville for the wedding.  The daughter of Mrs. Perkins is the young Lizzie Perkins.  James sees Lizzie slap the young slave woman named Easter for letting Lizzie's French chiffon shawl touch the ground.  James is shocked at this and scolds Lizzie, who nevertheless feels she did the right thing.  Easter's father is Cap'n Black, the favorite slave of the master.  

James Jackson, Sr. wants his son to marry Lizzie Perkins.  James Jr. objects that he does not love the lady.  Dad tells him to marry for family, not love, as he did.  Family comes first, followed by the love, he says.  James Jr. asks if Easter can go to the upcoming wedding.  Dad lets her go.  James Jr. tells Easter that she will go as his sister's maid and Easter is just ecstatic.  It is obvious that there is a lot of emotion tying the white man and black woman together.

At the wedding, the blacks stay on one side, the whites on the other.  At the reception the whites dance together and the blacks dance together.   By mistake, Easter grabs the hand of a white dancer.  He asks:  "Does anyone own this girl?"  Slowly James Jr. comes forward.  He says:  "Come along, Easter."  Someone in the crowd says:  "Somebody should flog that bitch!"  Easter and James Jr. go outside.  Lizzie asks James to come inside and dance with her.  Easter goes back into the building to peek at Lizzie and James Jr. 

The doctor visits the sickly slave master, who does not have much more time to live.  James Sr. tries to offer Cap'n Jack his freedom, but Cap'n Jack says:  "No thank you, master."  It is too late.  If the master had offered it earlier when he had asked him for it, he would have taken it.  But instead he sold away his beloved Annie, mother of Easter.  Cap'n Jack says:  "What good is freedom to me now.  I'm old."  Cap'n Jack tells the master that every time he sees him, it will remind him of what he did to Annie. The master broke his promise to Cap'n Jack.  James Sr. regrets his actions and unburdens his guilt while talking to his wife, Sally Jackson. 

Easter sees James swimming naked and sits down to watch.  She takes his clothes and says she will return them if he promises to come see her more often.  An angered Cap'n Jack intervenes at this point and chases Easter home. 

The master dies while holding Cap'n Jack's hand.  At night James Jr. goes to see Easter.  She tells him:  "I so sorry."  He hugs and kisses her. 

James Jr.'s mother Sally scolds him for letting Lizzie dangle.  James learns that Easter is now with child.   He says to her:  "It's just another damn mouth to feed."  Then, however, he kisses her several times.  James proposes to Lizzie and she accepts. 

Easter has a baby girl.  Mrs. Perkins is still upset over that Nashville wedding with whites and blacks in attendance.  When Lizzie learns that Easter has given birth to a child, she becomes upset and leaves the dinner table saying she does not feel well.  Later she tells her mother that she will not marry James Jr.  But mother says:  "Yes, you will."  After all, "All men are the same.  Lecherous brutes." 

Sally Jackson visits the slave quarters and holds her grandchild who Cap'n Jack describes as "white as cotton".  Cap'n Jack wants to name her Princess, but James Jr. decides to name her Queen.   Easter tells James Jr.:  "It's good you took a wife.  You need a son. . . . But I have the best of you." 

It's the wedding day of James Jr. and Lizzie.  James Jr.'s friend Sam, a doctor, is in attendance.  Queen receives a lot of attention from the white guests.  Easter takes her home.  Cap'n Jack tells Queen that her daddy is an important man.  Easter scolds her father for speaking of Queen's real father.  She says:  "She ain't white."   Queen receives a lot of teasing from the other slave children because of her color  and because:  "She ain't got no pappy."  Queen starts crying and her father, who Queen does not know is her father, chases away the boys and girls.  He gives Queen to Cap'n Jack to be taken to the kitchen for cookies.   It is illegal for a slave to know how to read.  But her father gives two teaching books to Easter for Queen's education.

Why is everyone so glum? is the question.  Because the Yankees are talking about the abolition of slavery.  And then that Nat Turner might murder them in their beds.  And, says Lizzie, "my baby".  And so James Jr. learns that Lizzie is pregnant.  He is very happy about the news.  He tells her that Queen could live in the house and be a companion to their child.  Lizzie does not like that idea.  When James Jr. tells Easter about the idea of taking Queen, she protests:  "She's all I have."  Later Queen sees them kissing.  Easter delivers Queen to Lizzie and asks if she may still see her daughter.  Yes, she can still see Queen.  Then Lizzie makes sure that Easter knows that she does not approve of the whole idea.  Nastily she adds:  "We own her.  Say good-bye and go."  Queen cries at the separation. 

The men of the town are enrolling in the army.  Rebel soldiers flirt with Jane, the daughter of Lizzie and James Jr., and her slave Queen.  One soldier even kisses Queen.  Jane gets very angry and asks the man:  "How dare you kiss my slave?"  The man protests that he did not know she was a slave. 

The Jackson overseer got married and introduces his new wife to James Jr. and Lizzie.  Queen sleeps in the trundle bed at the foot of Jane's main bed. 

Is there to be a war?  James bluffs saying it is "a lot of hot air".  But when James sees Easter, he tells her something different.  Abe Lincoln has become the president-elect and now there is a lot of talk about seceding from the union.  Easters asks him if he is going to fight and he says yes.  "For slavery?" she asks.  No, for the land, for honor, for all my father worked for, says James.  Queen goes to her mother, upset because she saw the master dressed as a soldier.  She tells her mother that the other slaves tell her that the master is her pappy.  Mother says it doesn't matter, which to Queen replies:  "It matters to me!"  She wants to know "where the other side of me" came from.  Mother answers:  "From love, child." 

In his Confederate uniform, James says his good-byes to the family.  He asks Queen to take care of them.  He and other men leave from the plantation to set off to war.  Easter says to Queen:  "Pray for him, Queen.  He your pappy." 

Sally Jackson speaks to the slaves.  She lies to herself and them when she says that the war is not about slavery, but about fighting for their way of life (which was based on slavery).  Then she has the slaves pray with her.  She prays for an end to the war and for God to bring James home to them. 

James is in a military hospital.  His friend Dr. Sam has been working on him to keep him from dying.  Sam tells James:  "We won.  Bull Run is ours."  Back home, Jane is very sick.  There is an epidemic of diphtheria in the area and Jane is one of the sick.  The whole family has fallen on hard times.  There is no overseer anymore.  News arrives that James is coming home.  Easter starts becoming sick.  Queen has Lizzie working in the fields.  The overseer's wife sees this and gets very angry.  She shouts:  ":Is Queen in charge now?"  James returns.  Queen has to stay back, unable to embrace her father in public.

James learns that Jane died in the epidemic.   He visits Jane's grave.  Easter is getting sicker.  She dies.  Queen cries and hugs her father.  Half the slaves have now gone up north.  And now Queen cooks and cleans the house.  Later James tells his daughter that he is going back to fight.  Queen is not happy about this.  Lizzie is also mad about James going back to war. 

The noise of artillery is heard in the not too far away distance.  To keep their spirits up, the three white women in the house sing, while the house shakes from the shocks of the explosions.  "The Yankees are coming!  They burned up Florence."  The Yankees arrive.  The home guard has burned the local bridge, so cotton is being seized to pay for the necessary repairs.  Sally Jackson objects:  "You will bankrupt us."  Worse news comes.  The cotton mills are to be burned too.  

Sally and Queen watch as their cotton mill burns.  The Yankee officer does not really care about their loss because he lost two brothers to the "rebs".  He says:  "I don't care how you live or if you live."  Later the Yankees soldiers start manhandling Queen.  Cap'n Jack tries to stop them, but gets badly beaten with an ax handle.  The left side of his face becomes all bloody.

James is once again wounded in combat.  This time his arm has to come off.  And this time James will not be discharged.  The Rebels need all the soldiers they can get their hands on. 

Sally visits Queen and Cap'n Jack.  Queen tells her that Cap'n Jack keeps saying he's dying.  But Cap'n Jack wants to be officially free before he dies.  Sally gives him his freedom papers.  Cap'n Jack then reminisces with Sally for they have been together for a long time.  He gets Sally to agree never to sell Queen away from the plantation.  But soon Sally will be free also.  In fact, all the slaves will be free.  Cap'n Jack responds with:  "Then this must be that better day."  He promptly dies.  Queen tells Parson Dick that her grandfather is dead.  Parson Dick is packing to leave for Virginia to find his brothers and sisters.  Then he will probably go north.  He tells Queen that she should be going north also, because the whites on the plantation do not care about her.  Queen says:  "Ain't true.  They love me." 

Later Sally asks Queen where she is going to go.   Queen says that she will stay and serve Sally.  After all, James is her father.  Sally warns her:  "Never think of James as your pappy."  Queen shouts at Sally who is walking away from her:  "You're my family."  At her mother's grave, Queen asks where is she going to go.  

Part II. 

The Confederate soldiers are returning home.  A carpet bagger on a carriage asks the soldiers if they have land they want to sell.  James and the overseer are returning.  James tells the overseer that he won't have much work for him.  But the overseer says he and his wife have a little money and will open up a general store.  Queen sees her father without his right arm coming up the walk.  She runs to tell Lizzie and Sally.  James runs into two male slaves that are leaving the plantation.  Lizzie and Sally happily greet James.  

The times are hard.  James has to sell parcels of his land in order to survive.  He tells Queen that he is very grateful to her for taking care for Lizzie and his mother.  James and Queen drive the rig over to the Henderson's store.  James tells them to their surprise that he has come to pay his bill.   Mrs. Henderson says that Queen is still an "uppity little girl".  She's very light in skin color and Mrs. Henderson calls her "a high yella".  Lizzie is pregnant again.  James says "I need a little daughter to love."  This remark hurts Queen's feelings.

On an errand Queen returns alone to the Henderson's store.  Mrs. Henderson gets angry at her attitude again and tells some loiterers around the store to "put her in her place".  Queen runs, jumps on her horse and takes off, but the men pursue her on horseback.  Queen's horse throws her off and Queen has to hide in the woods.  The white men cannot find her. 

James is worried about Queen, who has not returned.  Lizzie tells him that she's gone like all the other.  She adds:  "I'm glad."  Every time Lizzie sees Queen it reminds her that James loved Easter.  Queen finally makes it back just to have Lizzie violently scold her for her thoughtlessness.  Lizzie then slaps her.  This angers Queen and she decides to leave the plantation.  Sally gives Queen a little money for her trip and wishes Queen good luck.  Sally mentions also that she will miss Queen.  Queen hugs her around the knees.  Leaving, she runs into her father returning home.  He tells her that he will miss her, but does not try to make her stay. 

Queen walks and walks.  She gets to town and buys a ticket to Charleston, South Carolina.  A white woman traveler mistakes Queen for white and befriends her.  Queen pretends that she is French and from Martinique.   Queen says to herself:  "Queen you'se a white girl now."  At her destination, Queen soon runs out of money.  She asks for help in getting a job, but the white woman assigned to help people find work, recognizes that Queen is not white.  She tells Queen to stop trying to pass and get out.  Queen leaves.  Out on her own, Queen has to steal some bread to feed herself.  Queen then gets in a soup line to get some food.  There is a black woman named Alice there serving the people on line who is passing for white.  She talks with Queen and says that she knows Queen is black and admits that she too is black.  Alice befriends Queen and lets her stay with her.  Both women agree:  "White is much easier."  Queen thinks Alice is a whore and holds it against her.  Alice warns her that if she is going to pass for white Queen will have to watch her speech.  Alice explains that the Yankee soldiers had raped her.  She tells Queen that she decided:  "If the white men wanted me so bad, they would have to pay for it."

Alice takes Queen to a dance hall so that she can meet some rich men who will help her.  A white man dances with Queen.  Later Alice tells Queen that her white man, old George, has some work for her in a flower shop.  Queen takes the job.  There she is seen by a white man who is very taken with her beauty.  She starts "walking out" with him.  Soon he tells her that he wants to meet her family.  Queen is very happy having a beau.  She tells Alice that for the first time in her life, she is feeling loved.  Alice warns her:  "Love is dangerous for women like us."  Queen shouldn't try to marry a white man, because the truth will come out about her background. 

Queen's beau asks her to marry him.  They kiss.  Alice tells Queen that she has to get out of the situation she has gotten herself into.  Queen does try to tell her beau but she just can't quite tell him.  He tells her that he wrote to her father.  Queen promptly faints.  In his room, the beau tells Queen:  "I can't wait until we're married."  He starts to force himself on Queen and to stop him she finally shouts:  "I'm Negro!"  He is absolutely shocked and slaps her.  He then violently starts pulling her clothes off, hits her and has sex with her.  He tells her:  "You'll get what cheap Negro bitches deserve."

When Queen tells Alice, Alice explodes.  "How could you tell him?"  Queen tells her:  "He raped me!"  Alice is not moved by this.  She only fears that she will lose old George.  She tells Queen:  "You're too dangerous to be any one's friend."  Alice packs up Queen's things.  Queen begs her to let her stay, but Alice insists that she leave.  Back out on the streets, Queen is soon begging for food.  She finally turns to a poor group of blacks for help, but she is rejected by them as a white "bitch".  Queen sleeps in the nearby barn.  During the night hooded white men attack the poor blacks, burn the barn and force everyone to run for their lives.  Queen begs God to help her.  Now totally desperate Queen enters a black church and throws herself on their mercy.  She keeps crying and screaming:  "Help me God!  I need help!"  One of the black women finally gets up to comfort her.  She takes Queen under her wing.  She takes Queen to a mission run by two elderly white women who are very (even overly) religious.  Miss Mandy and Miss Giffrey accept Queen into the house.  They seem to be pleased with Queen's white complexion and beauty.  Later Queen's new friend tells her:  "I'm too black for them." 

One day a big black man named Davis comes into the mission yard and starts raking the garden.  Queen asks him what he thinks he's doing and then calls for Miss Mandy to come out and deal with the man.  The man, however, has some charm and explains that he needs work and will work very hard for the women.  Miss Mandy gives him a trial assignment.   Davis gets to stay.  One day Miss Mandy sends Queen out with some lemonade to give to Davis.  Working without his shirt on, Queen sees the terrible scars on his back produced by the whip.  She is very shocked at the sight.  Later Davis asks her "Ain't you never been beat?"  Davis says he is full of hate.  Queen tells him not to hate and Davis says that hate's all there is.  Queen replies:  "No, there's love." 

Queen and Davis have sex.  She tells him:  "I want your child."  She even talks about marriage to Davis.  Queen becomes pregnant and her friend asks Davis if he is going to do right by Queen.  Davis is not happy, but says he will do what's right.  One day Queen sneaks out to hook up with Davis at the railway station to go north.  She says good-bye to her friend.  At the railway station Queen waits and waits but Davis never shows.  She has to return to the mission.  Queen's friend takes her to an abortionist, but Queen decides to keep her baby.

The missionary ladies are very disapproving of Queen being pregnant, but want her to stay and have her child at the mission house.  Queen's friend leaves the employ of the mission house, while Queen stays.  The remaining three women all want a baby boy.  Miss Mandy tells the pregnant Queens:  "I envy you so much."

Queen has her baby.  It's a boy.  She wants to name the boy David, but the missionary ladies get their way and he is baptized Abner.  One night the two mission ladies come into Queen's room to move the baby and his basinet to Miss Mandy's room.  Queen tells the ladies:  "You ain't taking him."  She protests so much that the ladies have to give in for the moment, but they say they will just have to follow some other course.  Queen goes to see the black reverend.  She complains that Miss Mandy is taking the boy over:  ""She's stealing my child."  They are threatening Queen with the law if she tries to resist.  The reverend urges her to resign herself to the situation:  "You black, they white."   Queen asks:  "Ain't nothing I can do because "'I'm black?"  That's right. 

Queen goes home to the mission house.  There she overhears the two ladies speaking with the white reverend.  The reverend suggests that Queen be put in some kind of asylum.  Queen rushes into the room, grabs the baby and tells the three of them:  "I kill you before I let you have him!"  The reverend says:  "Quite deranged and violent!"  Queen decides to leave the mission house with her baby.  Late at night she walks out of the house with Abner and escapes from the clutches of the missionary women and the reverend.

Part III.

Queen with Abner arrives at a new place and she asks where she can eat.  Niggers can eat in the back is the answer, but a Miss Benson says that the newcomer can eat with her.  Queen sits down with the lady who needs a wet nurse for her own child.  The now very cautious Queen wants to make sure that Miss Benson is not a religious fanatic and so she asks:  "Are you religious? . . . Do you own a mission?"  Yes, she's religious, but no she does not own a mission. 

The blacks in the town are on strike for better pay.  Accompanying Miss Benson, Queen sees Davis giving a rousing speech to the strikers.  Law officers arrest Davis, but before the judge, Davis is released because the warrants were not legal; they were not signed.  Mr. Benson points out Davis to some other white men as if pointing out their next target.  Queen visits Davis at night.  She reproaches Davis for leaving her without saying anything to her.  They start arguing, but suddenly Davis kisses her.  She says:  "You're a liar."  He pushes her on to the bed and starts kissing her. 

In the morning Queen is all smiles.  This is tempered by the dangerous situation Davis finds himself in.  They are both scared for Davis.  When Queen returns home she is scolded by Miss Benson.  Her boy has been awake all night long and she is very angry with Queen.  In the evening, Miss Benson wakes Queen from her sleep to warn her about the Klan and to tell her to go warn Davis.  Queen rushes to get to Davis and Mr. Benson follows her.  It turns out that Mr. Benson is the head of the local Klan.  He gives a speech to the Klan saying:  "The liberal Yankees and the lecherous Jews" are responsible for making the blacks uppity. 

When Queen returns to Abner, she finds that Mr. Benson has taken him.  Mr. Benson uses Abner to force Davis to come out peacefully.  The next scene shows Abner with his hands tied behind his back and a noose around his neck sitting on a horse.  The men pour a flammable liquid on Davis.  The horse is slapped and Davis starts hanging.  The Klan then sets the unfortunate man afire.  The next morning Queen finds the hanging corpse and her baby in a wooden crate on the ground below the father. 

Once again Queen is on the road with Abner.  She runs into a black river ferry man who takes an interest in her.  The price for crossing the river is  five cents one-way.  Queen avoids him and so he has to talk to another man with the message for Queen.  It seems that Mr. Cherry is looking for a kitchen maid.  The next scene shows Queen at work in the Cherry house.  She meets Mr. Cherry and is very sassy with him.  She even tells him that she is not staying for long  -- just enough time to get the necessary money to go north. 

At dinner Queen spills some water on a woman guest and the woman shouts:  "You stupid nigger!"  This makes Queen angry and she reproaches the woman for calling her names.  The white woman demands that Mr. Cherry fire Queen.  He tells the woman that he will speak with her.  Later her black female co-worker scolds her for her attitudes and tells her to let all that pain go and let somebody love her. 

The river ferry man is a widower named Alec Haley and Queen's black female co-workers asks him if he is looking for a new wife.  He leaves rather than discuss the matter further.  When he sees Queen she gives him the cold shoulder by turning his back to him.   Haley leaves, but Abner follows him.  When Queen notices that Abner is gone, she gets frantic and starts looking for the boy.  She finds out from Haley's young son that Abner is with his father at their home.  Queen rushes over to the house and demands from Haley:  "You give that child to me."  Her attitude upsets Haley and he mentions her bad temper.  In spite of this, he offers her some part-time work at a quarter an hour.  He says that this way she can leave for the north all the sooner.  And the sooner the better.  He tells her:  "Get you and your bad temper out of here." 

Queen asks Mr. Cherry to be let off from work for the afternoons on a certain day.  He agrees, but says he will dock her for the time.  This really makes Queen angry and Mr. Cherry responds:  "You're the most ornery maid I have ever had."

As Queen is leaving Haley's house, he asks her to sit for awhile.  She gives him an immediate "No!"  This makes him mad and he balls her out for not being civil.  Queen thinks that perhaps Haley is right and so she sits.  They talk for a little while before she leaves for the night.  Soon afterwards, she becomes very friendly with Haley.  The next scene shows her getting married to Mr. Haley.  They literally "jump the broom" after giving their vows.  Queen soon has a baby boy that she names Simon. 

Simon does very well in school.  Usually the black children drop out of school, but Simon actually wants to continue his education all the way to college.  Queen is supportive, but father is definitely not.  So Queen has to work on him a bit to get him to come over to her side. 

Simon is selling lemonade drinks for some extra money.  Two white boys approach him and start harassing him.  The harassment leads to a fight.  When Queen finds out what happened she goes to speak to one of the boy's mothers.  The boy is sassy to Queen and she slaps him across the face.  She tells the mother that the white boys owe her son ten cents.  The sheriff hears the loud argument and comes over.  He tells the white woman to give Queen the money, but the woman answers:  "I ain't giving her the time of day!"    The argument now starts to escalate until Simon decides to end it all.  He says that they do not need the money and tells his mother:  "Let's go home, mom."  At home Queen tells her husband that she's scared:  "I's scared of me."  

Dressed in mourning black, Queen takes her two boys back to the old plantation of her father, but she and her children have to stand away from the funeral service for her father.  Lizzie sees Queen and is not happy.  After the funeral Queen shows her boys her mother's grave.  They then visit the big house that appears abandoned.  But Lizzie is still in the house.  She comes down to tell Queen:  "There's nothing for you her. . . . Your relationship with this place is over."  Queen and her boys leave the big house.  One of her sons asks:  "Ain't this your house?"  Mom answers:  "No child.  Home is where you are loved."

Mr. and Mrs. Hayley attend the graduation ceremony at their son's school.  The white teacher singles out Simon for his excellent work; he is the first black boy in Savannah to complete all the grades and graduate from school.   After the ceremony the teacher walks with Queen by the river.  She encourages Queen to send her boy to "normal" school.  Queen's husband is not happy about the boy going away to "normal" school.  Mr. Cherry tells Hayley that the next thing will be college for the boy.  But if the boy can do it, why not go? 

Hayley talks with Simon telling him that he is sending him to normal school.  He warns him not to get in any trouble with girls.  He then gives him $50 dollars to take with him to school.  Simon is ecstatic at the news.

Abner feels bad about his own situation compared to Simon's.  He tells his parents that he wants to go someplace too -- Chicago maybe.  This Queen does not like at all, but Abner insists saying that despite her attitude, he is going north.  Father tells his stepson that he can't afford for him to go.  He can't give Abner any money because he doesn't have it.   Abner replies that he doesn't need any money from him.  He has a little money saved for the trip.  Dad says he can go, mom still says "No!"  She says some things she shouldn't say to her husband and he goes on a horse ride to get away from the house for awhile. 

Queen is very upset and in her state of distraction her dress catches fire while she is cooking.  She runs from the house but this only makes the flames worse.  A man and his son discover Queen with her burns.  She acts very peculiarly when they try to help her. 

Queen's one time co-worker brings her home.  She tells Haley that while she is not hurt badly, she is "touched" in the head.  Queen ends up in an asylum.  There are a lot of people acting strangely at the asylum.  She tells the staff:  "I ain't mad!"   When her husband visits she tells him the same thing.  Mr. Haley says:  "I can't figure out what I did wrong."  Queen tells him that it was not his fault. 

Mr. Cherry, at the request of Queen, pays her a visit at the asylum.  She tells him that she needs a favor.  Abner wants to go away and she tried to talk him out of it.  Now she knows she was wrong and asks Mr. Cherry for $50 dollars for Abner.  Mr. Cherry is very happy to give her the money.  Repayment will be discussed at another time. 

Queen tells the staff that she is going home.  She says that she wants to say good-bye to her two sons who are going away.  She adds:  "I should be home where I'm loved."  The director of the asylum objects that her proposed trip is one of 50 miles.  Queen responds:  "Please, please.  I got to go home! . . . I's their mama."  The director decides to let her go.  He even ties her boot strings. 

Alec Haley arrives for his regular visit.  But this time he is shocked to see his wife open the door.  She walks down the stairs to greet him.  They hug each other. 

Back home she tells Abner that he has her permission to go north.  Later Simon and Abner both get on the outbound carriage. 

Abner, following his youthful adventures, returned to life on the farm.

Simon graduated from Lane College (a four-year, historically black college associated with the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Jackson, Tennessee) and received his Master's degree at Cornell University.  For many years he was Dean of Agriculture of AM and N College (the black Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College at Pine Bluff, Arkansas).  He and his wife, Bertha Palmer, gave Queen three grandchildren: George who became a lawyer; Julius who became an architect; and Alex who became a writer.
 

Good movie.   The film gives the viewer a little taste of what it might have been like in the days of slavery.  Thee are many terrible things that Queen has to go through to find a good life for herself.  These terrible things are just some of the thousands of cruelties inflicted by the system of slavery.  Seeing the suffering of Queen, who the audience cares about, makes slavery a little more real to the viewer.  The acting was good.  Halle Berry was very good.  Patricia Clarkson was appropriately disgusting in her portrayal of Lizzie, the wife of Queen's father. 
 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

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