To Go To Troutbirders Nature Blog (click on above picture)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Help

We went and saw the movie The Help a couple of days ago. Mrs T. had read the book and highly recommended it. Afterwards, she said the movie was faithful to the book by Kathryn Stockett.
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.
Set in Mississippi one hundred years after the abolition of human slavery, Jim Crow is beginning to come under attack.
The novel is told from the point of view of three narrators: Aibileen Clark, a middle-aged African-American maid who has spent her life raising white children, and who has recently lost her only son; Minny Jackson, an African-American maid whose back-talk towards her employers results in her having to frequently change jobs, exacerbating her desperate need for work as well as her family's struggle with money; and Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a young white woman and recent college graduate who, after moving back home, discovers that a maid that helped raise her since childhood has abruptly disappeared and her attempts to find her have been unsuccessful. The stories of the three women intertwine to explain how life in Jackson, Mississippi revolves around "the help", with complex relations of power, money, emotion, and intimacy tying together the white & black families of Jackson.
Skeeter is a young aspiring journalist surrounded by friends and relatives who cling determidly to the racial attitudes of the past. The murders & terrorism of that era are only mentioned briefly in the movie. The menial work of the black "help" is locked in for each succeeding generation. It isn’t exactly slavery, but it is a caste system at the core. The black maids need the jobs but their lot is to be bombarded with the pain of disrespect, condescension and abuse. Skeeter struggles to find some of these women to dare to tell their personal stories.
The most telling white character is Skeeter's mother played by Sissy Spacek. Not a raving over the top bigot as some of the portrayals, she simply goes along to get along with her racist friends. This portrayal struck me as most sad and realistic.
Besides the broad strokes to portray some of the characters, there is the come uppance humor. Some very funny but way over the top unrealistic, involving some commodes scattered across one bigot's lawn and a fecal pie. Other than that, though, I highly recommend this movie. Sometimes it’s the down-to-earth stuff rather than those things that take up chapters in the history books that cuts closest to our own experiences of the heart.


Janie said...

I haven't seen the movie, but I thought the book was excellent.

Loree Huebner said...

We read the book and saw the movie. We loved them both.

~Eric and Loree

Catherine said...

Loved loved loved the book and loved loved loved the movie! My hubby didn't read the book but he took me to the movie on our Anniversary a few weeks ago. He really enjoyed it too. We went to the Saturday matinee and ate popcorn and milk duds. It was a perfect day! :)
xo Catherine

Arkansas Patti said...

I have that book sitting on my night stand waiting to be read. I really want to, it is just that I am so Kindle spoiled that I hate to pick up any hard copy.
I promise I will, it has just gotten too many wonderful reviews including yours.

NCmountainwoman said...

A friend of mine knows Kathryn Stockett personally and she recommended the book long before it became a best seller. Sadly it rings true. In my husband's childhood home the unfinished earthen basement held a furnace and the coal stoker. Oh, and a commode for the help.

Clementine Moonflower said...

I saw a youtube clip of (I think) the woman who played Minny, and man is she intelligent! She sure plays her role well.

Shady Gardener said...

I had read the book a couple of years ago... and just saw the movie. You gave a very good review.

RoadDog said...

I saw the movie a couple weeks ago. This one should get some Oscars.

And, I'm from the South and it didn't paint a pretty picture of us, but that was just the way it was back in the 50s and early 60s.

Bud said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. Now I have visited yours, and have put The Girl in the Blue Beret on my reading list.

EcoRover said...

I like your insights on the character of Skeeter's mother--so often we get along/go along though we know its wrong.