The Coincidental Critic

Exploring the art of storytelling.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler: Powerful, Gripping, and Haunting

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Lee Daniels’ The Butler followed the story of a black White House butler and his life during the Civil Rights Movement.  The film was directed by a black man and the main characters were black, allowing this story about the Civil Rights Movement to be told from a black man’s perspective.

My favorite scene in Lee Daniels’ The Butler was the sit-in scene.  Louis and a group of activists performed a sit-in at a diner.  It was shown in conjunction with a scene of Cecil serving dinner at an event at the White House.  The two dining scenes were shown at the same time, alternating between one another.  They paralleled one another.  At the start of the scene, we saw a shot of Cecil entering the White House dining room and then we saw a shot of Louis entering the diner.  A few minutes later, we saw a shot of a plate of food being placed down at the diner and then we cut to a shot of an empty plate being placed down on the dining room table at the White House.  The backdrop to both these two scenes was the song “Function at the Junction;” it was a sharp contrast to the tension that was building and only made the scene more uneasy to watch.  As the sit-in scene became more violent, so did the music.  At the height of the scene, we heard racists scream at the activists at the diner; this kept being interrupted by the sound of clapping at the White House event.  This harsh contrast between the elegant, calm atmosphere at the White House and the loud violence at the sit-in exemplified the differing lifestyles and the severity of racial inequality at the time.  This is one of the most powerful cinematic scenes I have ever seen.

There were several scenes in Lee Daniels’ The Butler that frightened me.  One scene that comes to mind was when the Freedom Riders were attacked by the KKK.  It was so horrific, I could barely watch.  It’s crazy that things like that actually happened.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler was both interesting and engaging.  It educated its audience about the Civil Rights Movement, while still being entertaining.  I was so engrossed in the film, I didn’t want it to end.

I appreciated the fact that the characters in the film had differing opinions and experiences.  This allowed us to understand the Civil Rights Movement from all perspectives and allowed us to see how different people were affected by the racial injustice of the time.

While each character underwent his or her own unique experience, they were all very likable.  I sympathized with them equally.

The acting in Lee Daniels’ The Butler was amazing.  Everyone gave 110% to his or her performance.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler spanned over eighty years, making it a challenge to accurately show the characters changing ages.  Though, the makeup team stood up to the plate and made it look like a breeze.  Adjustments to the characters’ hair and faces allowed for the characters to age realistically.  The aging of all the characters was believable.  I thoroughly impressed with how young they made Louis look towards the beginning of the film.  Immediately, I recognized actor David Oyelowo, but thought my mind was tricking me.  How could a thirty-seven year old (at the time) play a teenager?  But he did and was entirely believable.  He actually looked like a high school student.  The makeup artists really worked their magic.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler reminded me of Forrest Gump.  Both films followed a character through his life with American history as the backdrop to the story.  Both films incorporated actual footage from historical events.  Lee Daniels’ The Butler just had a more centralized focus: the Civil Rights Movement; but it’s obvious where director Lee Daniels got some of his inspiration.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler is not only a very important and educational film; it is a beautiful work of art.  It’s a film that everyone should see.

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This entry was posted on May 9, 2016 by in Movie and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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