MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -3

BELOVED is Toni Morrison's deeply moving, dark and discomforting story of slavery's residual damage to the soul. Sethe (Oprah Winfrey) is a slave running from the horror of her degrading home and slave master in Kentucky. She manages to forge a new life in a more tolerant Ohio just after the civil war, but it is clear that she is harboring a dark secret. She and her teenage daughter, Denver (Kimberly Elise), now exist in an old house possessed by "Baby Ghost", thought to be the soul of the child Sethe killed to prevent her from falling into the hands of slave owners. However, Sethe and Denver seem to understand the pain of this terrifying, evil spirit. Struggling to survive, Sethe welcomes Paul D (Danny Glover), a slave from her home town, back into her home and her life. Then, a very disturbed, retarded young woman named "Beloved" finds her way to Sethe's house, bringing fear and confusion into the houshold. And Sethe's Grandma Suggs, an elderly slave woman who preaches to black gatherings, rounds out the well chosen cast. Many viewers will probably find this three hour drama too intense, graphic and depressing to be very enjoyable, but BELOVED is sure to be a contender for some Academy Award nominations.

This dark drama abounds in graphic violence, sexual content and some profanity. A pregnant Sethe is shown being whipped by sadistic slave owners who suck on her breasts and cut her back. And she kills her three young children to keep them from being taken into slavery. Sexual content includes Sethe and Paul D. in bedroom scenes with sex implied. Particularly graphic is one scene in which Beloved seduces Paul D and genital nudity is shown. And the mentally disturbed, pregnant Beloved is shown fully nude from the front screaming out in rage. Although no obscenities are spoken, the Lord's name is taken in vain several times. Still, positive messages of a mother's sacrifice for her children and family loyalty are inspiring. And the dignity of black people and their struggle for freedom is poignantly portrayed. The stark graphic realism of this film is excessive and the story could have been effectively told without its explicit sex, nudity and profanity. Even though it is well produced and acted, there are much more acceptable choices available.

Preview Reviewer: Wendell Thorne and John Evans
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution (Touchstone); 3900 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA 91251

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (2) times - Mild Only

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: Several(9) times - Regular 6 (GD 4, G 1,J 1), Exclamatory 3

Violence: Many times - Moderate and severe (dog injured, man set on fire, woman whipped and cut on back, dead - bloody baby shown, ghost violently attacks man, blacks hanged, man chained up, girl destroys property in fit of rage)

Sex: Once, with movements but no nudity; implied few times in bedroon scenes, but no nudity.

Nudity: Several times - Female breasts shown, male rear nudity, full female frontal nudity, female genital nudity twice

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times - Man holds woman's clothed breasts, men suck woman's breasts, woman seduces man, man suggests sex

Drugs: Few times - alcoholic drinks

Other: Woman urinates, woman covered with insects, retarded woman acts repulsively and tries to eat live chicken, woman vomits,blacks express anger about white control; sacrifice, love and loyalty portrayed.

Running Time: 185 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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