Sunday, November 10, 2013

What the Butler saw...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that I have terrible taste in films. 

I frequently fall asleep in the middle of a movie...often sooner than if I stay awake all through then I suppose that's an indication of something. 

I don't get 'clever' films...I don't see, never mind understand, cinematographic nuances. I like a good story with interesting characters...anything else is wasted on me. 

It doesn't take much to stir me up in a movie...I'm easily frightened...easily delighted...easily inspired. The scene in The Dead Poets' Society in which the boys stand on their desks and declare 'O Captain, My Captain' can still bring tears...

I say all of this to let you know how little discernment I bring to any film and how much I am swayed by the emotion of it all. And I say this because today I saw a movie that had a profound effect on me.

Rick and I went to see The Butler. Forest Whitaker is the star of the film with Oprah Winfrey doing a fabulous job as his his co-star. It tells the story of a young boy growing up in the Southern states of America whose life is turned upside down by the abuse of his Mother and the terrible death of his father at the hands of the young plantation owner where the family worked picking cotton. A series of events bring him to a position in The White House where he works as a butler. The story then reflects different perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement in America. Sorry...sketchy description in case you want to go and see it. 

I stayed wide awake all through the film and I've been deeply affected by what I saw. I had a bit of a glimpse...all be it a Hollywood glimpse...of what it meant in terms of sheer physical courage to take a stand against racism and discrimination. 

Insults of all sorts...rough handling...beating...dogs...water cannon...vitriol...hate...petrol bombs...fiery crosses...white hooded assailants..the weight of the law against you...rape...spitting...lynching...burning...death...

That people would run that sort of risk for something they believe in just astounds me. I am in awe of that courage. Courage that hurts and bleeds.

It is still required today. The hatred isn't over. It may have modified somewhat but the world still lives with the struggle of being at ease in the presence of difference. Every minute of the day, someone, somewhere is summoning up the courage to put themselves on the speak face and bear the consequences.

As I've was a Hollywood glimpse of will be imperfect and incomplete. It won't have told all the sides of the story and it will have exaggerated some things and wiped a slick of vaseline around the lens of others. But whatever the whole truth, it takes...courage to stand for what you believe in.

Respect to all who find it.

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” 
C. S. Lewis