Jia Jia Chen
Jan 10, 2014
Movie Review – The Butler
In Lee Daniel’s film, The Butler, the story of Cecil Gaines, a butler who has served eight different presidents for thirty-four years in the White House, chronicles the civil rights events through-out his career. This film focuses on African American history from 1920s to 2008 during Barack Obama’s inauguration as president of the United States. The film is very accurate about history during that time period and made an impression on me. In the beginning of the movie, Cecil narrates his childhood about working in the cotton fields, which is representative of an African American’s life in the early 1900s. Although slavery wasn’t around during the Reconstruction period, African Americans were still not entitled to the same rights and privileges as white people. Most had to work in the cotton fields all day long under harsh work environments, similar to when they were slaves. The film, The Butler, implies that most blacks lived on large farms or small plantations and did not have the right to say no. The white people sought to make the African Americans completely dependent on them. When Cecil Gaines was little, the only thing he ever learned about was cotton. It implies that black people could not go to school, and that they were prohibited from learning to read and write. Any white person could kill an African American at any time; and not being punished. This is shown during the film when the farm’s owner, Thomas Westfall, took sexual liberties with Cecil’s mother, and Cecil’s father was shot dead without any punishment. Cecil states that “The law is not on our side, the law is against us” (The Butler). The film is precise and accurate in its description of African Americans’ life and work in the early 1900s. In the middle of the film, various historical events in the Civil Rights Movement were illustrated through the character’s lives. One event that transpired with...
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