March 2, 2014

[DVD Review] The Butler

I am trying to work up my courage to watch ‘Twelve Years a Slave.’ I plan to watch 'Roots' one day too.

Eugene Allen - Image:
Last night, I nervously put 'The Butler' into the DVD player. Watching, I experienced those anticipated moments of sadness, pain, and anger. Nevertheless, overall, I feel that Lee Daniels captured a number of larger-than-life emotions, which laugh at words that attempt to express them. In the film, the black family, which as matter of institutionalized racial-hatred routine, endured and continues to endure a multiplicity of tragedies, is portrayed as dignified, complicated, intelligently funny, loving, and resourceful—not unlike my and other black families that I know.

It may be correct to direct some of the credit for the film’s authentic depiction of the black family toward Will Haygood the author of the book “The Butler: A Witness to History.” I am putting it on my summer reading list in order to investigate further. And, certainly, we are grateful to Eugene Allen, the butler, for a life lived with steadfastness and, indeed, courage—quite as it was. 

The successful approach toward depicting authenticity in this film is evidence of the need for a people to tell their story. Daniels does not share the legacy of American slavery or Jim Crow, but blacks everywhere have experience with unequal treatment and racism with which they can relate to the nuances of a particular experience.  

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