Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Halle Berry Reigns as Alex Haley's Queen

During Valentine’s week in 1993, I had the pleasure to watch the 3 part mini-series adaptation of Alex Haley’s Queen. Although, I was merely 11 year-old at the time, I felt a strong connection and understanding of the pain of the characters. Perhaps it was the emergence of past life memories or just knowing that owning another person is wrong, whatever the case, the impact of this film was profound and still resonates with me today.

Set against the back drop of the pre-civil war south, Alex Haley’s Queen begins with the flirtation of Queen’s parents Col. James Jackson Jr. (Tim Daly) and his sewing slave, Easter (Jasmine Guy). They have known each other since childhood, yet their sexual chemistry begins to erupt.

However, the idea of James and Easter ever being more than Master and slave was a big HELL NO. Therefore, James reluctantly gives in to his mother’s pressure to marry the suitable Lizzie Perkins (Patricia Clarkson), two years after the birth of his first child, Queen (Raven-Symone as a child, Halle Berry as an adult).

When Queen turns 5-years old she goes to live with her father in the big house as a maid to her half-sister Jane.

The movie then jumps ahead to the beginning of the Civil War and Queen is now 20-years old. Throughout the remainder of part 1, Queen endures war-time horrors as those she loves succumb to death, injury and the loss of their familiar world.


As part 2 begins plantation life has been shattered forever. The slaves are freed and flee for a new beginning, while Queen struggles to find herself amidst a family that won’t claim her as their own.

Shown the cold shoulder by her step-mother and grandmother (Ann Margret), Queen fights to keep her sanity.

The day after a terrifying encounter and chase from two white customers at the Henderson’s, Queen decides to leave her old life behind.

As Queen wanders around searching for a place to belong, she struggles to fit into a world that sees her as neither white nor black.

Cold, hungry and poor, she poses as a white female just to get a meal and soon be-friends another biracial woman named Alice (Lonette McKee), who gets her a job in a flower shop.

She meets a white gentleman named Digby (Victor Garber) while working and they begin dating. However, when the truth of her real identity becomes known Queen is beaten and sexually violated.

Alone and depressed, Queen moves again, in search of love.

Happy to have a job as a maid for two religious sisters, Queen meets and falls in love with a black gardener/activist named Davis (Dennis Haysbert).

Queen soon learns she’s pregnant and decides to keep the baby after a frightening visit to an abortionist.

Although, Davis, promises to stand by her, he skips town instead, leaving Queen to give birth to Abner by herself.

Stuck between wanting to flee and needing a place for her child, Queen remains with her employers, until they become obsessed with Abner.

As part 2 draws to its close, Queen is on the run…

Part 3 opens with Queen meeting and being hired by Mrs. Benson to be her child’s wet nurse. While visiting in town, Queen runs into Davis and the two spend the night together.

Unfortunately, Mr. Benson is a member of the KKK.

Mr. Benson and his clan kidnap Abner and lynch his father, Davis, in front of him.

Heart-broken and exhausted, Queen runs away yet again.

As she’s riding on a ferry she meets a man named Alec Haley (Danny Glover).

Thanks to Alec, Queen begins working for Mr. Cherry as a maid.

Eventually Queen and Alec marry and add to their family with the birth of Isaac.

Throughout part 3 Queen is faced with mental illness and healing from her past, but this time she has the love of a good man and family to ease the process.

Alex Haley’s Queen is a wonderful piece of American cinema and history to be

treasured by people of all skin colors. Part 1 will premiere on the channel TV One on Sunday, February 8th, at 9 p.m., eastern time.

It was also released to DVD in 2008.

So this Black History month gather around, hold back the tears as the poignant musical score slowly bores a hole in your heart and watch the movie that helped introduce Halle Berry’s acting talents to the small screen.

You’ll be happy you did.


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