The Help

The Help is set In 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, where aspiring writer Eugenia Phelan crosses taboo racial lines by conversing with Aibileen Clark about her life as a housekeeper. Their ensuing friendship upsets the fragile dynamic between the haves and the have-nots. When other long-silent black servants begin opening up to Eugenia, the disapproving conservative Southern town soon gets swept up in the turbulence of changing times. It tells a tale of shallow-minded ignorance, love and respect, and the real way things are and were in America in the early 1960s in Mississippi. As it started, I thought to myself, “Sheesh, I don’t feel like watching this,” but as soon as I saw Abilene go into see little Mae in one of the early scenes, I was hooked. This story though is not heavy-handed; it is balanced with just the right amount of pathos and humor; you will be laughing out loud one minute and reaching for a tissue the next. It has a little comedic relief by Cicely Tyson throughout to keep it from being too serious, but definitely made the point of how bad it was for the black maids in that time. This had me tearing up within the first few minutes. What’s brutally honest about the presentation is the everyday humiliation visited upon the women who are “good enough” to raise white children and cook for whites, but so “inferior” that they cannot use white bathrooms. It brings back memories of childhood in my hometown, in a mixed racial community and my own neighbors and their mothers who played an integral part in my own upbringing. I remember the black woman who lived just across from us and the stories and her taking the time to cook for us and care for us when we were being baby-sat while my mother was away. Some may say this is just a “guilty white folks film”, but having grown up in the South and having come of age (I graduated from high school in 1963) during the era in which this film is set, I can relate to much of the story. It is authentic in its telling of the relationship between white families, especially wealthy white families, and their “Help”. I say that from a white perspective; but I suspect the same is true for blacks during that era. I write this as a first person witness. I was raised by “the help” in the South. The woman that worked for our family was a direct descendent of our family’s slaves in the 1800s (vile but true). I am 41 now and still consider her like an aunt. Color means nothing when you are 1-2 years old, especially when someone loves you more than your own parents and spends more time with you. We still have contact just like relatives, and this movie reminds me that I need to maintain that and do more to repay her kindness. To me this was a Masterpiece film. It does a great job on period accuracy too (our house looks very similar to the one that Abeleine works at). A little more history… although my family originally had slaves, that later changed to paid (barely) help during the Jim Crowe period. My mother was similar to the Skeeter character and went off to an Ivy League college but came back in the mid 1960s. She then took our ‘maid’ to DC for several Civil Rights events. She then ‘bought’ our maid (after marrying my wealthy father) in order to get her away from the ignorant side of our family. Our maid continued to serve that function until 1982, when times had changed enough that she got a state job and was able to retire in 2009 with full benefits. The cycle was broken. I have thanked her, and she is so meek and humble. I also apologized for my family’s past sins, and she just said, “Don’t you worray ‘bout it, nobody treated black folk very well back then.” My great grandfather even got one of the maids pregnant and then fired her to hide it in the 1940s — that’s right fired her– what cowardly self-centeredness. Our maid and I may have a good relationship, but shame on my family for this. I am in tears and will remain so until the film long leaves my mind. It is a heartfelt movie with a genuine message, to love everyone around you no matter what. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” This film will help us remember when we talk about “the good old days” that some things were definitely not so good. A great movie of life as it existed and, unfortunately, still exists in parts of this country. Sadly so true to life, telling a story of the past that is somehow very current. The movie is sweet and bittersweet. Overall, an ugly and beautiful tale worth watching! Inspiring, heart wrenching, funny, and sad. Wonderful, enlightening movie! This was a surprisingly good film. It’s rare that I watch movies produced by Hollywood, but thankfully it was an exception to the norm. I liked the book, but I think this movie is one of those rarities that is better than the book. Loved the book — loved the movie! It really shows what great casting and great acting can do. It is the first film I’ve been to in a very long time where the theater audience stood and applauded at the end. Very powerful story with some truly amazing acting performances. Simply one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. This movie should have won every award known to man. This story represents a need for bravery and change in a world where that seems impossible. I can never stop thinking about how great American society could have been “if only” white folk had realized that Blacks are not “inferior.” Was it the guilt of slavery that held white society back, or are we really that ignorant? What do the film’s popularity and rave reviews tell us? The social message is clear, and I could see this as an excellent entre to a powerful discussion in an academic environment. At two and a half hours in length, it’s a great film for a Sunday afternoon when you can give it your undivided attention. It started slow for me but once the characters became developed I got drawn in and I never once felt like the movie was too long. The 2 1/2 hours flies by. It’s worth seeing, even if you normally don’t watch movies like this. My wife actually picked out this movie and I have to admit it isn’t a movie I would’ve selected (thought it would be boring), but I gave it a shot anyway (never read the book). For me, I judge how good a movie is when it draws me in to the point where I don’t want it to end. There are only a few movies I’ve seen that I can say that about, and The Help is certainly one of them. All the actors were fantastic. An emotional movie that I actually felt, not just watched. I recommend this movie if you love feel good dramas. And guys, even though it has an almost all women cast, it isn’t a chick flick. Great movie! The film is a must see, and one that makes me feel better having seen it. Docudrama 2011 PG-13 146 minutes.

SEE ALSO:

Scottsboro: An American Tragedy

The Murder of Emmett Till

To Kill a Mockingbird

Hoop Dreams

Election of Barack Obama

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