Day 44 – The Help

10 Aug

Often when I see based-on-the-book movies I come away disappointed. I find the director’s vision usually doesn’t match the picture I’ve created in my own mind, and for the sake of time the details that make the novel go from good to great are left out. This is not so with The Help. Even if you haven’t read the novel, the movie is powerful all on its own. My only criticism is that Emma Stone’s hair wasn’t as frizzy as I had imagined Skeeter’s hair to be, and it would have been funny to portray the pain Skeeter and  her mother go through to smooth and straighten her frizzy mop.

It was interesting to analyze the audience because you could tell by the laughter at certain points who had read the novel, and who had not. If you had read the novel there’s an element of dramatic irony that the rest of the audience is not privy to. However, if you haven’t read the novel I think it’s even funnier when you clue into what everyone else was laughing at.

The book lover/English teacher in me says, “Read the book fast and go see the movie while it’s in the theatre.” But, I know that many people don’t think the same way as I do. If there’s a book I want to read, I’ll avoid seeing the movie until I’ve read the book, even if that means I have to wait and rent the movie. I did that with Eat, Pray, Love. I’d love to have seen the movie on the big screen, even though I was disappointed in it. But, I told Glenn when I came home tonight that he’d love The Help. He may see the movie, but I know it’s not a book he’d enjoy reading.

You might want to stop reading here if you don’t want to know a thing about the movie. I don’t spoil anything major but go on to discuss differences between the book and movie, etc.

The part that was in the novel, that I wish was portrayed in the movie is where Abileen teaches Mae Mobley that racism is wrong by telling her stories about Martin Luther King. She uses her position as a black housekeeper to teach respect to the white children in her care. In the movie we see the self-respect she teaches May Mobley when she constantly repeats to the child, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” We see Abileen greet May Mobley in the morning with these affirming words, and again when her mother mistreats her, Abileen builds her up. I just wish we got a small glimpse into the stories she uses to teach May Mobley about civil rights and equality by changing MLK’s name to Martian Luther King.

In the novel, Celia Foote was my favourite character. I liked her struggle both socially and domestically. Minnie Jackson was my favourite character in the movie. Octavia Spencer plays the role of Minnie like it was written especially for her. She brings added life to the already tenacious character. I wish the movie had portrayed the encounter that Minnie and Celia had with the intruder, but then it might have taken the PG rate film into a more adult rating category. And, at 2 hours and 17 minutes the movie was long already. Not too long for me, but any longer would be too much. It makes me wonder what was, metaphorically, left on the cutting room floor.

I honestly have to say that this is the best based-on-the-book movie I think I’ve ever seen. If you read and liked the novel, you will love, love, love this movie. If you have no intention of reading the book, the movie is great.

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