Beloved (film) - Plot

Plot

Set shortly after the Civil War, the film revolves around Sethe, a former slave living on the outskirts of Cincinnati. When the film begins, an angry poltergeist terrorizes Sethe and her three children, causing her two sons to run away forever. Ten years later, Sethe (Oprah Winfrey) lives alone with her daughter Denver (Kimberly Elise). Paul D (Danny Glover), an old friend from Sweet Home, the plantation Sethe had escaped from years earlier, finds Sethe's home, where he drives off the angry spirit. Afterwards, Paul D. proposes that he should stay and Sethe responds favorably. Shortly after Paul D. moves in, a clean young woman (Thandie Newton) named Beloved stumbles into Sethe's yard and also stays with them.

Denver is initially happy to have Beloved around but learns that Beloved is Sethe's reincarnated daughter. Nonetheless, she chooses not to divulge Beloved's origins to Sethe. One night, Beloved aware that Paul D. dislikes her, immobilizes him with a spell and proceeds to sexually assault him. Paul D. resolves to tell Sethe what happened, instead tell what has transpired to a co-worker, Stamp Paid (Albert Hall). Stamp Paid, who has known Sethe for many years, pulls a newspaper clipping featuring Sethe and tells her story to the illiterate Paul D.

Years ago, Sethe was sexually assaulted by the nephews of Schoolteacher, the owner of Sweet Home. She complained to Mrs. Garner, Schoolteacher's sister-in-law, who confronted him. In retaliation, Schoolteacher and his nephews whip Sethe. Heavily pregnant with her fourth child, Sethe planned to escape. Her other children were sent off earlier to live with Baby Suggs, Sethe's mother-in-law, but Sethe stayed behind to look for her husband, Halle. Sethe was assaulted when she while searching for him in the barn. The Schoolteacher's nephews held her down, raped her and forcibly took her breast milk.

When Halle failed to comply, Sethe ran off alone. She crossed paths with Amy Denver, a white girl who treated Sethe's injuries and delivered Sethe's child, whom Sethe named Denver after Amy. Sethe eventually reached Baby Sugg's home, but her initial happiness was short-lived when Schoolteacher came to claim Sethe and her children. In desperation, Sethe cut her older daughter's neck and tried to kill her other children. Stamp Paid managed to stop her and the disgusted Schoolteacher leaves them alone.

Paul D., horrified by the revelation and suddenly understanding the origin of the poltergeist, confronts Sethe. Sethe justifies her decision without apology, claiming that her children would be better off dead than enslaved. Paul D. departs shortly thereafter in protest. After Paul D.'s departure, Sethe realizes that Beloved is the reincarnation of her dead daughter. Feeling elated yet guilt; Sethe spoils Beloved with elaborate gifts while neglecting Denver. Beloved soon develops a destructive tantrum and her malevolent presence causes living conditions in the house to deteriorate. The women live in squalor and Sethe is unable to work. Denver becomes depressed yet, inspired by a memory of her grandmother's confidence in her, she eventually musters the courage to leave the house and seek employment.

After Denver gets a job, her new co-worker arranges to have women from the local church visit Sethe's house and comfort the family. Once, the women arrive and loudly sing and pray while Denver's new employer simultaneously arrives to pick her up for work. Sethe sees him and, reminded of Schoolteacher arrival, tries to attack him with an icepick. She is however subdued by Denver and the women. During the commotion, Beloved disappears completely and Sethe, freed from Beloved's grip, becomes permanently bedridden.

Some months later, Paul D. encounters Denver at the marketplace. He notices she has transformed into a confident and mature young woman. When Paul D. later arrives at Sethe's house, he finds her suffering from a deep malaise. He assures Sethe that he and Denver will now take care of her. Sethe tells him that she doesn't see the point, as Beloved, her "best thing", is gone. Paul D. disagrees, telling Sethe that she herself is her own best thing.

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