As we quickly approach the 86th Annual Academy Awards or what some simply call ‘Oscar Sunday’ on March 2nd… many are still mulling the terms of endearment, which lowly faded at the approach of one of the best years for films with predominant African- American Casts.
The Academy seemed to have forgotten a few of the years most compelling films, as they were noticeably absent from nominations, but yet had been so vigorously admired by The Hollywood Foreign Press and The Directors and Actors Guild this award season. Lee Daniel’s ‘The Butler’ was one of my choice films for its intricate historical insight into world events we were used to reading about in our history books, but those lagged to project emotional connectivity, until seen portrayed with such honorable performances. In film, one can so readily accomplish via its instant audience emotionality, what may take decades to be proven through word.
February also marks Black History Month in America, this is an important moment honored annually, starting in 1970, which was set to bask in remembrance of important people and events in history of the African struggle. Taken as is, Hispanic Heritage Month, this time is set aside as an indicative time for all races and ethnic cultures to learn new levels or respect others have had to delve through in order to break down such vast barriers.
‘The Butler’ may have truly defined that historical struggle, meant to be remembered this and every February… one where at a point in time, etched throughout the timeline of the film, a story can carry with it the validity of a soul’s worth at its helm. During the eight presidential terms served by White House butler Cecil Gaines, Forest Whitaker’s character, goes on a journey with wife Gloria, played by Oprah Winfrey, and two sons during the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and other major events which take a toll on a man’s life, whose family and country were his pride and joy. Although he experienced racism and its hatred firsthand, Cecil was a man who held his head high and even though his spirit was dragging many a times, he held truth in the pride that the human spirit was better than the violence and hurt. Gaines lived a double life, one in The White House and one of his own, while you watch the film you get this feeling that he believed in his heart that the hope and potential existed for a world free itself from the pain it had inflicted upon itself.
Throughout the biopic we are introduced to the ever changing American dynamic in society, as it is shown how dependent our nation once was on the value issued to it, by those holding an authoritative hand and how we morphed into the realization that hatred towards any is hatred for all.
‘The Butler’ was not only a journey of self- discovery for Cecil, but for America- one that came in toe with growing pains, which were trotted at the expense of human souls. Having served an admirable 34- year- tenure as a White House butler, Cecil’s journey is one to be experienced by Whitaker’s masterful performance. From Eisenhower to Obama, one mans recounted story makes this film, another stenciled script verging on perfection by producing maestros, The Weinstein Brothers, who grossed over $167 Million in worldwide sales with ‘The Butler’.
So, even though you may not see Whitaker and Winfrey grazing the red carpet to honor their film next Sunday… the spirit of a film so poignant in its truth, which has been shared with us all, is a story that can stay etched in a heart forever as long as we continue to tell the untold.