Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the film, The Help.
The Help, starring Emma Stone, based on the novel of the same name, 2011
Every once in a while I get thrown off by a film. No, not the usual disappointment of a hyped movie that goes flat. Or films that come out of nowhere to attract my attention against all reason like the Swedish Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. Here my dilemma is of a different sort. And, perhaps, I have only myself to blame. See, I saw the film under review, The Help, under “false pretenses.” As a short-cut for not having to read the book, a book about the trials and tribulations of black maids and their junior league jim crow employers having their stories publicized, once someone told me that the film pretty well followed the lines of the book. Of course not reading the book before-hand meant that while I was vaguely familiar with the theme I was not prepared for what was to come.
And this is where taking a short-cut, while not always fatal, played me false this time. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with the film as a piece of feel good, moral uplift, pseudo-post racial society fluff. At that level it did what one reading the novel would have expected (according to my source who had read the book and seen the film). See the time frame of the film, in the cauldron of the black civil rights movement down South in Mississippi burning in 1963 or so is all wrong for the light-hearted treatment. So it is very hard, very, very hard for a man of the “generation of ‘68” to take in a “fluff” film about those very maids, gardeners, janitors, steelworker, laundresses, and seamstresses who, along with the SNCC students, formed the core of the civil rights struggle back then. So maybe, just maybe in another fifty or one hundred years when we are meaningfully closer to that post-racial society that some benighted politicians and academic keep heralding this film might seem appropriate look at a primitive time well past. Until then just enjoy this one as after dinner entertainment.