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The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman

177 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Cicely Tyson, Barbara Chaney. A 110-year-old African-American woman recalls her life as a slave, her role in the Civil War and her views on the 1960s civil rights movement. 1974/color/110 min/NR/EP.

Special Features

  • Making-of documentary
  • "The Writing of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" documentary
  • Oral storytelling tradition documentary
  • Best Picture and Best Actress clips

Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Special Edition
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Classic Media
  • DVD Release Date: July 1, 2012
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Domestic Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses. For APO/FPO shipments, please check with the manufacturer regarding warranty and support issues.
  • International Shipping: This item can be shipped to over 75 destinations outside of the U.S. Learn More
  • ASIN: B0006IIOHC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,698 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Reginald D. Garrard VINE VOICE on April 27, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is one of those works of fiction that is so realistic that the viewer can only assume that this is the story of a real American heroine, not a composite of the many unsung greats of the past. Cicely Tyson is magnificent as both the young and aged Miss Pittman. Her performance should go down as one of the best ever done for the small or the big screen. Every minute that she is in view is a major glimpse into the talent of a great actress.
The excellent script that traces the 110 years of the title character includes many of the critical points in the life of African-Americans from Reconstruction on to the Civil Rights struggle of the early 1960's. This is history that is informative as well as entertaining.
As an educator by profession, I heartily recommend this film to be a staple in every media center's video library. Timeless and relevant, "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" is an undeniable masterpiece!
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 3, 2006
Format: DVD
It surprises me how many people think that The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman is an actual biographical/autobiographical work. It is not -- it is fiction. It is a brilliantly crafted work interweaving historical references and recollections into an overall framework of the life of a woman born into slavery who survived to the point of the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

The style of the book made into a film is one of oral history. The editor interviewed and transcribed Miss Jane's stories beginning in 1962 and going on for nearly a year. The editor also talked to other people, particularly when Miss Jane would fall silent or forget things (he couldn't tell if she was doing this deliberately or not), and also talked to people after Miss Jane's funeral. Some of this is lost in the film, but the overall narrative flow does keep this flavour in the story.

In a small space, the author (who is to be distinguished from the editor, a character in the novel) shows his intention -- this is to be an overarching story of black experience from the Civil War to Civil Rights, seen primarily through the experience of one woman, but incorporating and representing the experiences of all others.

The telling of the tale begins in the Civil War, where Miss Jane is child (she can't actually remember when she was born). Her name at that point was Ticey. Her first story deals with negotiating the delicate balance between fleeing Confederate soldiers, arriving Union soldiers, and the dominant presence of the mistress of the plantation. It was a Union soldier who suggested the name of Jane to Ticey ('Ticey is a slave name' the corporal said). Thus she became Jane. Jane Brown, adopting the last name of the corporal.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Matt Tawesson on February 8, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw this movie years ago on TV, but didn't quite have any knowledge about it until some years later when my mother and I recorded it on TV. I really love this movie and am glad that I got to see it. Cicely Tyson was so remarkable as Miss Jane Pittman. The title of this movie would almost make you believe that it is based on a true story--it is not, though. In this movie, you get to hear Jane's life story from her early years as a slave on a plantation (born into slavery), her adoption of a little boy, her marriage to Joe Pittman, and living to see the civil rights movement of the early 1960s. Jane lived quite a life; up to 110 years of age. She was a kind of person who had seen and been through quite a lot of things during her lifetime, which is obvious for anyone who lives that long. Cicely won an Emmy for her role in this movie, and she deserved it. The makeup was great as well. Cicely was only in her 30s or 40s at the time this movie was made, but with the makeup, you would almost think that it was an elderly lady playing Jane in the later years. I love this movie. There are some scenes in this movie that are disturbing, though, such as the scene where Jane and Ned (the little boy she adopted after his mother and other free former slaves were killed early one morning by the "patty rollers") went to a lady's house for a drink of water and got a very negative and cruel reception from her (trivia: cameo appearance by Katharine Helmond in this scene), some very disturbing scenes of the KKK, and her husband Joe Pittman's tragic death because of a white horse on the ranch that was a subject of evil, and several other sad scenes. But, all in all, this is a great movie worth seeing. I'm just so pleased that it is out on DVD.Read more ›
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By David M. Billings on January 1, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A quick warning, while this is a good movie, it doesn't represent the entire book. It completely skips book three. This omission robs the story of its depth of insight into the human character. It's not a bad movie, but it completely softpedals the message Gaines wrote in the book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Neil Cotiaux on April 26, 2006
Format: VHS Tape
Much has been said about the role that network television news played in shining a spotlight on Bull Connor and the rest of the racists in the Old South of the Fifties and Sixties, and those observations are correct. By the late Sixties, with the passage of landmark Civil Rights legislation and grudging acceptance by some that change was here to stay, real barriers began to be broken and doors opened. But, like all seismic shifts in culture, change would have to be reinforced to make it complete.

"The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" proved again what the small screen can do to change hearts. The measure of a truly great work of art is that it can be viewed in any number of settings and never have its impact diminished. "2001: A Space Odyssey" is nearly as mesmerizing on television as it was on the theatre screen, so groundbreaking was its approach to the question of human potentiality. In equal measure, "Autobiography" is worthy of the big screen, so artful and compelling is its treatment of the issue of human dignity.

Thanks to extraordinarily skillful makeup artists, but largely to her own meteoric talents, Cicely Tyson turns in a flawless performance that will never grow old. Her facial expressions, voice timber, eye movements - her complete persona - embody the convictions of a woman growing more mature, more realistic, but still never losing her hope and dreams. It is an astonishing performance that demands exposure to the widest possible audience.

This film is a truly transformative experience - for a beloved actress, those in the film surrounding her, and most of all, for the viewer. One of my Top 5 picks of all time.
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