Nightjohn: Characters, The Review & Pictures *SPOILERS*

The Characters:
John aka "Nightjohn"

Master Waller
Jeff Waller

Mistress Waller

The Doctor


THE GOOD: All of the characters are well developed. Sarny and John's back stories are lush with detail. These details are woven into the story without it seeming heavy handed.

In the opening we are shown that Sarny's mother is sold away after Sarny turns out to be a girl and not a boy, as wanted by Master Waller. Sarny hardly remembers her mother and never met her father as he was sold away before her mother was sold away.
Sarny's mother sold.
We find out about John in his on words through the course of natural conversation. He ran away after his wife was sold. He made it to the North but he returned South to teach any slave that would be willing to learn. This to me is a wonderful back story. He had freedom but decided to come back and help others. It reminds me of Harriet Tubman except in John's case he was giving slaves their mental freedom.

I loved the romance plot line between Outlaw and Egypt. We see them get married and eventually runaway when they find out that Egypt is pregnant. I appreciate there being a romantic plot line in what would be considered a slave movie. Many slaves did fall in love and jump the broom. Through all the pain and heartache there was also love. Although their passes are found it is never said if Egypt and Outlaw are captured by Master Waller so I choose to believe that they made it North and raised a beautiful family together.

Dealey occupies the Mammy position in the film. However this film doesn't fall into characterizing her like the stereotypical Mammy. She is not overweight or portrayed as an asexual being. More than once Dealey shows romantic interest in John. He however still has feelings for his wife. Dealey can't read and is even upset with John for teaching Sarny, but she is in no way unintelligent. She is very observant. A woman of her word; promises are very important to her.

THE BAD: There isn't much bad that I can say about Nightjohn, as it is very historically accurate. The only bad I can find is with some of Sarny's decisions. Sarny can at times be an annoying character as she doesn't always think things through. As a result many of her actions get others in trouble. One major example of this is when she decides to steal Jeff Waller's Bible, so that she can practice reading. Master Waller whips his son, Jeff as he thinks he misplaced the Bible. Later the Bible is found in Sarny's slave cabin. The Bible is found laying on the floor, out in the open. Although she knows the dangers of reading as a slave she has not taken any time to hide a stolen book. Because of Sarny's lack of judgment Dealey is whipping and John gets his finger cut off and is sold off the plantation.

Now I'm not sure if this is the director's choice or not but, many times Sarny is seen and heard reading out loud. I'll let that slid as the director may have wanted the audience to hear what Sarny is reading.

THE VERDICT: I can't speak on how faithful it is to Gary Paulsen's novel but it is a great film. And overall Sarny is a wonderful protagonist and her story is worth the watch.

Nightjohn gets 4 out of 5 Freedom Papers

There are many social issues I could bring up when talking about this movie but I'm not sure if I want to go there with this blog. Hmmm ... Still thinking on it. In the mean time ...


Nightjohn arrives in chains.

One of Sarny's jobs was to spit tobacco juice on the roses to keep bugs away.

Sarny gets baptized.
Slaves working the field till night.

Dealey and Mistress Waller

I think they did a great job with Dealey's hair.

Sarny is paid for her troubles.

Egypt is so beautiful.

Learning letters

Master and Slave


Outlaw makes a ring.

Sarny and Baby Homer

Sarny teaches others.

Slaves in Church

Nightjohn teaching Sarny

Purchase your copy of this amazing novel with the Blacks in Period Films Amazon Associates Affiliate link.

If you'd like to see more stay tuned!

Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase from the links Blacks in Period Films get a commission that will help keep the blog running.


Popular posts from this blog

White Water (2015) - A Review

Film News: Zendaya as Ellen Craft

Looking Back at Bonanza: Enter Thomas Bowers (1964)