There are two ways to tell a story. The first is in a dry academic style that informs, but does not teach in a way that is memorable. The second is in a vibrant manner in which the audience learns something long the way.
Back in 2012, Red Tails hit theaters. Starring Terrence Howard and David Oyelowo, the film told the story about the Tuskegee Airmen that fought in World War II.
I have to agree with the critics about this movie. Though the film does an admirable job of introducing or re-introducing audiences to the true story of unsung American heroes, it is not as good as it could be.
There is something powerful and fairy tale like about love. With the right person, we can be swept off our feet and take our lives into a new direction that we night have not previously considered. But reality has a way to crashing in on the fairy tale. Real love and real marriage, takes work.
Ruth Williams and Seretse Khama knew that better than anyone.
Released last weekend, A United Kingdom is the story of their love and the struggle to be recognized as a couple. In post World War II England, it is nearly love at first sight for Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) and Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo). But not everyone is thrilled about their relationship and eventual marriage. Ruth is a Caucasian office worker and the daughter of a middle class family. Seretse is the heir to the throne in what is today the country of Botswana. Needless to say, there are many on both sides of the color aisle who are not pleased with the marriage. Ruth and Seretse’s relationship is tested, but the question is, will their love and marriage survive what seems to be insurmountable odds?
I really liked this movie. Not just because it is a true story, but because it still resonates today. Many of us don’t think twice nowadays about interracial marriages, but back then, it was not just a marriage. It had major political and economic implications. Ruth and Seretse broke barriers in ways that we can only see in hindsight. Their story is also a reminder of how powerful love can be.
The movie, Selma, released last year, is the story of Dr. King’s campaign to secure voting rights for the African-American residents of Alabama.
Dr. King (David Oyelowo) had his allies, but he also had his adversaries. Then President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkins0n), preferred to avoid the issue. Governor George Wallace (Tim Roth) was dead set against integration and had no qualms about using any means (violent and non-violent) possible to prevent it.
I found this movie to be very powerful. As the legendary Dr. King, David Oyelowo is magnetic. His on screen struggle is a reminder of just how far we have come, but also how far we have to go. As President Johnson, Tom Wilkinson is caught between a rock and a hard place. He knows that integration and the Civil Rights movement cannot be ignored, but he also knows that that his country is going through a turbulent time. As Governor Wallace, Tim Roth is another stark reminder of the fact that it was only a few decades ago that African-Americans had to fight for the simple right to vote.
For those who lived in the former British colonies, they hoped that the motherland would provide them with opportunities that they did not have at home.
Some would be sorely disappointed.
Andrea Levy’s novel, Small Island, focuses on four distinct characters, two of whom hope that World War II has opened doors for them.
In 1948, Hortense Joseph leaves Jamaica for London. Her husband, Gilbert, joined the British army and finds that after the war, despite his service, he is considered to be second class due to his skin color. Gilbert’s white landlady, Queenie is living with her father in law while her husband, Bernard is away, fighting for king and country. But when he returns from the war, Bernard is suffering from unresolved issues from the war.
In 2009, Small Island was made into a TV movie starring Naomi Harris as Hortense, David Oyelowo as Gilbert, Ruth Wilson as Queenie and Benedict Cumberbatch as Bernard.
I enjoyed both the book and the television adaptation. It sheds light on a subject that many are unaware of. While the American civil rights movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s has become mythic in it’s own right, it is less known outside of Britain of the lives of it’s former colonists and their struggle to equality, acceptance and opportunities in the motherland.
Today I saw the new Lee Daniels movie, The Butler.
The Butler is story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a man who was born and raised in the cotton field of Georgia and worked for three decades as a White House Butler. His wife, Gloria (Oprah Winfrey) tries to support her often working husband while raising their sons Louis (David Oyelowo) and Charlie.
Against the backdrop of the Civil rights movements and Cecil’s disagreement with his oldest son, Cecil works for eight Presidents starting with Dwight Eisenhower (Robin Williams) and ending with Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman).
This movie clocks in at 2 hours and 12 minutes. In most cases, I dislike movies that go over 2 hours, but in this case, it was well worth it.
I foresee that this movie will gain both nominations and awards come award season, especially Whitaker, Winfrey and Oyelowo.