In pre-Civil War New Orleans, Vanessa Williams portrays the beautiful African-American daughter of a wealthy plantation owner and his kept mistress. Fighting her family's wishes, society's rules and rampant racism. she rejects the traditions of an arranged marriage and sets out on a journey fraught with danger and forbidden desires. This inspiring true story of heroism and love illuminates the extraordinary life of Henriette Dalille, the first African-American Saint.
Dove Rating: Family-Approved Recommended for ages 12 and over
Runtime: 90 min.
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Starring: Vanessa Williams, Gil Bellows, Karen Williams
The story focuses on Henriette Delille (Vanessa Williams) in pre-Civil War New Orleans and she is a kind woman with plenty of spunk and backbone. As the African-American daughter of a rich plantation owner named Jean-Baptiste (Stacy Keach) and his African American mistress Pouponne (Diahann Carroll), she rebels against the prejudice of the day and society's rules. One of the unjust rules is that blacks are not allowed to read.
Henriette soon finds a calling she never dreamed of, helping the sick at a local Catholic parish and encouraging them. A potential suitor, Dr. Gerard, a Frenchman, takes a liking to Henriette and soon she finds herself having to choose between marriage or a life of servitude to God.
This film features realistic drama, including the prejudices of the day, and a wealthy man sleeps with a twelve year old slave girl and impregnates her (though the scene is simply a discussion about it happening and nothing graphic is shown). The people around her are shocked to learn of this and support the girl and speak out against the man. By film's end, the man has appropriately been humbled. Due to a few mature scenes like this, we are recommending the film for ages twelve plus. The film features scenes which include praying, following the call of God, caring for the sick, and other commendable themes. In one scene a black man saves a white man's life, which reinforces the potential of people of all races accomplishing noble feats.
We are therefore pleased to award our Dove "Family-Approved" Seal to this DVD. It is inspiring and remarkable!
Sex: It is learned a wealthy man had sex with a twelve year old slave girl but he is confronted with it; it is stated "adultery is a sin" in the film and "rape is wrong"; a wealthy plantation owner has children by his black mistress but intends to marry a white woman so as to have what he calls "legitimate heirs"; unmarried woman kicks unmarried man out of the house; another black couple have a child and are angry they are not allowed to marry; man kisses woman he loves briefly on neck.
Language: B (as in "bas*ard child)-1; OMG-1; H (as a place)-1
Violence: Some blood is seen when a young woman loses her child; blood is seen on black man's head and it is said a white person struck him for reading; whip marks on man; a fire is set to the church but the guilty parties are caught.
Drugs: Drinking in some scenes; a man demands wine; a joke about importing drugs as heavy cargo is removed from a ship; talk of a slave master drinking whiskey; a man is angry that blacks are allowed to attend church.
Nudity: Cleavage and some a bit strong due to the old fashioned gowns.
Other: Scenes of people praying; a baby's baptism; prejudice against teaching "coloreds" to read; a young woman loses her child; death and grieving in the film.