This adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel represents both director Jonathan Demme’s most ambitious work to date and a triumph for Winfrey, who laboured for a decade to bring the book to the screen.
Set in the 1870s, Morrison’s tale coils itself around the memories of former slave Sethe (Winfrey) but exists in a present-tense that’s figuratively and literally haunted by Beloved (Newton), the daughter she was forced to kill to save from slavery.
Demme and his screenwriters struggle gamely with the Faulknerian knots of the narrative and, although they fail to match Morrison’s powerful flow and poetic clarity, the film remains bold, strange and challenging.
Oprah Winfrey (Sethe), Danny Glover (Paul D Garner), Thandie Newton (Beloved), LisaGay Hamilton (Younger Sethe), Albert Hall (Stamp Paid), Irma P. Hall (Ella), Kimberly Elise (Denver), Beah Richards (Baby Suggs, aka Grandma Baby), Vertamae Grosvenor (Grace), Dorothy Love Coates (M. Lucille Williams), Thelma Houston, Charles Napier (Angry Carny), Jason Robards (Mr. Bodwin), Joey Perillo (The Carnival Barker), Hill Harper (Halle), Brian Hooks (Young Paul D), Dashiell Eaves (Schoolteacher’s Nephew), Jude Ciccolella (Schoolteacher), Wes Bentley (Schoolteacher’s Nephew), Frederick Strother (African Savage), Harry Northup (Sheriff), Anthony Chisholm (Langhorne), Joe Toutebon (Frenchie), Tracey Walter (Slave Catcher), Paul Lazar (General Store Proprietor), Robert W. Castle (Mr. Sawyer), Jane White (Lady Jones), Pauletta Washington (The Thirty Women), Karen Vicks (One of ‘The Thirty Women’), Harold Gould (Barber Shop Man #4 (uncredited)),
Director: Jonathan Demme
Producers:Edward Saxon , Jonathan Demme , Gary Goetzman , Oprah Winfrey , Kate Forte
Writers: Akosua Busia , Richard LaGravenese , Adam Brooks
Photographer: Tak Fujimoto
USA / 172 minutes / 1998