Released:August 10, 2011
(Based on the book ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett)
Bryce Dallas Howard
Summary: Set during the time of the African-American Civil Rights movement in the deep South, ‘The Help’ tells the story of an aspiring journalist (Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan’) who becomes isolated from the group of superficial women in her community. Skeeter is affected by the injustices she sees within lives of black people, especially in terms of maids raising white children. With the help of two maids, she starts to compile stories of their experiences in a hope to expose the racism in society.
My Favourite Scene: I really liked the scene in which Minny visits Celia Foot regarding a position as a maid. Celia is clearly out of her depth in the kitchen, saying ‘I guess I got some learning to do’, to which Minny replies ‘you sure do’. Their introduction shows the beginning of a friendship between the fiery Minny and ditzy Celia.
Although I’m not sure Minny would have been quite so forward and impolite to her future employer... I still think this scene is very good. The character of Celia is an isolated and fragile one. We already know that the white, female community do not accept her and she is hiring a maid without her husband’s knowing, to make him think she can ‘do it on [her] own’. Celia is excluded from her community, in the same way that black people were excluded from white society. Their friendship conveys that even with society’s boundaries, unions can form and people rely on each other regardless of race.
Aibileen Clark: 18 people were killed in Jackson that night. 10 white and 8 black. I don’t think God has colour in mind when he sets a tornado loose.
Aibileen Clark: (to Elizabeth’s daughter Mae Mobley Leefolt) You is kind. You is smart. You is important.
Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan: (referring to her mother’s earlier comments) You know, last time I had an almond, I stopped likin' men.
Rebecca: Oh, my lord!
Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan: Oh no! Rebecca, it's fine. There's a special root tea for that now.
My Thoughts: A theme which I found particularly powerful in ‘The Help’, was the meaning of family. The film illustrates that family, rather than being connected to blood ties, is whoever loves, understands and raises you. The white children see their maids as their true mothers, rather than their mothers by blood. Mae Mobley Leefolt tells Aibileen Clark ‘you my real mama, Aibi’. Although I do not think such a young child would be able to understand what a ‘real mama’ means, this shows that children recognise who truly care for them.
I also felt that ‘The Help’ was a good film because it used comedy in a clever way. Considering the subject matter, comedy was avoided when it would have been inappropriate. However there were some serious moments which used comedy, and still managed to be hard-hitting. Such as when Minny Jackson (believing Celia’s Foot’s husband was going to attack her) threw her shopping everywhere and grabbed a long branch to defend herself.
The only criticism I would have of this film is that it all seemed a little polished and unrealistic. It would probably have been more of a struggle and with perhaps more violent consequences for some. ‘The Help’ is a feel-good film, which slightly undermined the profundity. However it is still a very entertaining and thought-provoking film.
I really enjoyed ‘The Help’ because it intertwined so many important issues. Of course there is the theme of race, but also friendship, loyalty and courage in the face of opposition. It proves that the smallest idea can form something extremely important, and that the power of words should never be underestimated. The maids in this film could not physically rebel, but through telling their stories in a book, managed to change their community’s thinking and break down the control of those employing them.