- 1 hr 39 min
Emperor is a 2020 historical drama film directed by Mark Amin and starring James Cromwell, Kat Graham, and Bruce Dern. The movie is set in the aftermath of the American Civil War, during the Reconstruction era, and is based on the true story of Shields Green, a fugitive slave who joins John Brown's abolitionist movement and participates in the raid on Harpers Ferry.
The movie begins with Shields Green (Dayo Okeniyi) escaping from a plantation in Georgia and making his way north to freedom. Along the way, he meets John Brown (Cromwell), a White abolitionist who is planning a raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in the hopes of starting a slave revolt.
John Brown is a charismatic but fanatical figure, who believes that he is doing God's work and that his actions will bring about the end of slavery. Shields Green is initially skeptical of John Brown's plan, but he is convinced to join the cause after hearing the speeches of Frederick Douglass (Harry Lennix) and Harriet Tubman (Graham), who are also part of the abolitionist movement.
The movie portrays the raid on Harpers Ferry in vivid detail, with intense action sequences that capture the chaos and violence of the event. Shields Green and the other raiders are ultimately captured by the US Army, and John Brown is executed for his role in the raid. Shields Green is put on trial and faces the prospect of being sentenced to death, but he is eventually pardoned by President Lincoln (Bruce Davison) and allowed to leave the country.
Emperor is a powerful and moving film that explores themes of slavery, race, and justice. The performances of the cast are excellent, with James Cromwell delivering a standout portrayal of John Brown as a man whose idealism and zeal are both admirable and dangerous. Kat Graham is also impressive as Harriet Tubman, a woman who defies expectations and proves herself to be a formidable leader in the abolitionist movement.
The movie does a good job of humanizing Shields Green, who is often overshadowed by the larger-than-life figures of John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman. Dayo Okeniyi gives a nuanced performance as a man who is caught between his desire for freedom and his fear of the consequences of rebellion. The film shows the complex interpersonal relationships between the various characters and the tensions that arise within the abolitionist movement over different strategies for achieving their goal of ending slavery.
The movie also explores the political landscape of the time, with tensions between North and South still high in the aftermath of the Civil War. President Lincoln is portrayed as being sympathetic to the abolitionist cause but also cautious about the risks of precipitating a larger conflict. The film shows how the raid on Harpers Ferry was a turning point in the debate over slavery and helped to galvanize public opinion in the North against the institution.
Overall, Emperor is a well-crafted and thought-provoking film that sheds light on an often-overlooked chapter in American history. It is a movie that will appeal to anyone interested in the struggle for civil rights and the fight against oppression. The themes of the film are still relevant today, and the movie serves as a reminder that the fight for justice is never easy but always necessary.
Emperor is a 2020 history movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 39 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.9 and a MetaScore of 39.