August 28, 2013

            Wow! I was very favorably impressed with Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the movie playing locally for another 10 days.

            The story tells many sides of the Civil Rights struggles in American history and does this through the eyes of Cecil Gaines.

            Cecil played by Forrest Whitaker in an Academy Awards winning performance in my opinion. The story is told through his eyes, a black child in the South who sees his father shot because he challenged his boss who had raped Cecil’s mother all goes all the way to Washington D C and the White House where he serves as a butler for 36 years.

            Cecil Gaines’ life is complicated by being advised early that for a Negro to survive they needed two faces – one for whites and of course their own. Conflicts within his family – one son became a Freedom Rider, Black Panther and finally an elected official while the other dies serving his country in Viet Nam are just the tip of his challenges. Cecil’s job allows him to hear American President’s real feelings on controversial issues on an almost daily basis.

            President Reagan even invited Gaines and his wife to a State Dinner to honor his service, but Cecil figures out this was just for show. Eventually he and Reagan became close with Cecil being called “family” by the President.                

            My personal review puts this film on par Schindler’s  List!

            Professional reviewers have given the film generally good reviews. One said the cast carried the day and that is a hard opinion to contest. The Butler set earnings records during its first two weeks.

            In addition to Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey may also earn an Emmy. She is pretty amazing in her role as Cecil’s wife.

Then imagine Robin Williams as Ike Eisenhower, John Cusack as Richard Nixon and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan and there are many others.

At the end Gaines and his son are reunited – even being arrested and jailed on a South Africa protest –and the movie ends with Cecil at the White House to meet newly elected President Barack Obama. For the occasion he wears a tie given to him by Jackie Kennedy after JFK’s death along with an LBJ tie clasp a gift from a President that used the “N” word more than once in the White House.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler – a really good movie to see here in Emporia over the next ten days! It is not subtle in its treatment of the civil rights events, so be prepared.

I’m Steve Sauder and there’s something to think about.

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