Thursday, August 29, 2013

Six More Things about The Butler

Michael made a post this morning noting five things about The Butler, and challenged me to write a post of my own with a list of my own observations. Since one of his observations is actually something I thought of first (he does credit me in his post), I'll begin with that one.

The character of Louis Gains (the Butler's fictitious older son), and David Oyelowo's portrayal of him is clearly modeled on congressman John Lewis. When I looked it up I found that the striking resemblance was clearly not my imagination. It allowed me to embrace the film as a work of informed fiction rather than as documentary.

The radical Angela Davis hairstyle and loop earrings that the character of Gina wore as a Black Panther in the 1960s made its way into the character of Gloria's "hip" wardrobe in the 1970s.

It was wonderful to see Pablo Casals' White House Concert woven into the narrative (very smart music direction by Rodrigo Leão), but I was disappointed to see that the cellist looked nothing like Pablo Casals, and that the actor, who was a real cellist, wasn't credited.

None of the iconic presidential or first lady figures looked physically or facially like the people they were portraying (with the exception of the girl who played Caroline Kennedy), but the costumes and acting did enough to suspend disbelief.

I appreciated the solitary quality that surrounded all of the presidents, and I feel that the film demonstrated in a quiet way the weight of responsibility that they all felt.

Making reference to important events, demonstrations, famous people, and tragic events can be heavy handed in semi-historical fiction. I thought that the film handled that delicate balance extremely well.

. . . and one more from me (to copy Michael): Our showing of the movie in our mini-multiplex (mini by city standards) was in the large stadium-style theater. We had our choice of seats because aside from another couple (who sat in the back), we were the only people in the theater.

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