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Quick note to say yes, I just saw The Help today. I had read the book when it came out and was pleased/cautious about the film. I feel as though the film is pretty faithful to the book, well acted by all.

I've read some criticisms of the book/film (there is a lawsuit claiming that one of the characters was based upon a real life maid of the author who had been asked not to use her story for one thing) many of which are somewhat legitimate but also reflect the times the book and film were set.

1. Yes, the events were set into motion by a white woman who was only partly looking to help black women. She was also looking to help herself and does seem somewhat naive and insensible of the genuine risks that black women were taking. Not just loss of jobs which would not be easily replaced, but genuine and legitimate fear of personal safety for themselves and their families. This was something I felt in the book and yes, I feel that the book about writing a book still soft pedals the very volatile situation that was brewing and the very, very real danger black people who challenged the system in any way at all, however small, faced. We cannot forget that people were murdered for registering to vote, and for helping others to register to vote. This was only briefly, lightly touched upon.

2. The maids, especially Abailine, speak in a very uneducated manner. Many people would object but I think it is reflective of the times/education level of the people delivering the lines. For the record, I am white and from north of the Mason/Dixon line and and I have family members who spoke in similarly uneducated, uncultured ways. Not all of them, but some of them. Most were farm people and not many had the benefit of beyond a high school education; some less than that because of their economic circumstances.

If I were thinking about showing that film in my class some day, I would certainly preview it. Things parents might object to (aside from what I have mentioned above):

The use of the word shit.

The depiction of a woman who has a miscarriage (you see a lot of blood) and you see her burying the fetus in her flower bed.

The book does not just depict the realities facing black women in Mississippi in the early `1960's but also white women. Skeeter, the protagonist, is a privileged, college educated white woman who does not fit in well with society's or her mother's expectations. She conceives the notion for the book mostly because she really wants to be a journalist and perhaps novelist and has been rejected by a publishing house in NYC. She sees the book as a way out of the life she does not want to live. She stands up to her mother and her Junior League friends but with considerably less at risk and less directly than the maids themselves.

Men are just bit characters which caused my husband to deem it a chick flick (and I asked him if the typical hollywood fare of almost totally male cast films should be called dick flicks and he agreed: they should. Or saugage fests, but I felt that sounded rather borderline pornographic).

I liked the film, with the caveats above. Every single performance was strong. I attended a matinee with the audience comprised of almost exclusively older women, who stayed to watch all of the credits.

KMI, it's probably too mature for your 14 year olds but Matewan is an excellent film about coal miners in WV forming a union in the 20's. Language and violence, from what I remember. Depending on your parents, they might find it too pro union.
Edited by tgir, Aug 17 2011, 12:28 AM.
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