On Friday 13th May at 5pm we have the American historical drama film, THE BUTLER (2h12mins)
Loosely based on the real life of Eugene Allen, who worked in the White House for decades, the film stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, an African-American who is a witness of notable political and social events of the 20th century during his 34-year tenure serving as a White House butler. In addition to Whitaker, the film's all-star cast also features Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Nelsan Ellis, Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, Robin Williams, and Clarence Williams III.
Cecil Gaines, a black man married to Gloria Gaines, is determined that neither of his two sons, Louis and Charlie, will ever have to know what it's like to be the offspring of a cotton picker like he is, he having witnessed slave-like abuses afflicted on both his parents by their white land owner employers when he was a child. Despite the less than happy circumstances which led him and to which he had to endure on this path, Cecil, as an adult, has worked in commercial wait situations to the white man, largely in upscale establishments, he learning that he has to be two faced in his approach to work, often supporting racist statements made or untruthfully answering racially charged questions by employers or customers while being accommodating but somewhat invisible as a human being. In 1957, he is offered - much to his shock - and accepts a position as an under butler at the White House among the black domestic staff, after a White House administration staffer sees and is impressed with his demeanour and work at the Excelsior Hotel in Washington DC. This appointment begins an approximate thirty-year employment at the White House, one that is not always smooth for Cecil either on a professional or personal level. On the professional side, the White House is sometimes just a microcosm of what is happening in the world, his employment setting where he has to be even more careful in what he says or does. On a personal level, he is often at odds with his family. Louis decides to head to the front lines of civil rights activism, often placing himself either in personal danger or in situations still considered criminal. And Gloria may not see Cecil's time at the White House as worth the neglect it causes for their home life.
‘’ The Butler looks at the civil-rights movement from the point of view of ordinary African-American people. The genius of this film is the choice of a white house servant and his life as a focal point to the historical events portrayed.
The drama is both absorbing and emotionally rich. What is surprising is the way that sympathy for Whitaker's central character, Cecil Gaines, is so strong that the events, though sprawling, always resonate as intricate pieces of his life; because of this anchor, the film remains intimate and personal, even when the fate of an entire nation is involved.
Each actor excels here, the reason for this is that they, while obviously being highly talented individuals, are led by a commanding director who knows exactly what he's saying at all times, while keeping all the complexity of his subject matter.
You could say this is an African-American Forrest Gump: the story of an everyman whose fate collides repeatedly with historical figures and events, but The Butler is far more mature and subtle work which, beyond race, questions our roles as men and women in our daily lives. It questions and explores moral responsibility and how from generation to generation we can all search for what is the right moral conduct in the face of opposition, oppression and evil. It also shows how we can make a profound difference in life through dedication, integrity and love.’’ IMDb reviewer
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