The wife and I went out to see "The Help" last night.
This is one of those movies that takes some contemplation to understand.
On the surface, it is a comedy/drama that will make you laugh and cry.
On a deeper level, most modern Americans will also experience a sense of disgust at the institutionalized repression of blacks in the early '60's South.
The movie does a great job in sharing with its audience the atmosphere of a culture which demands, by law, that black people be treated as second class citizens. It shows that even white people were trapped by this evil; Even those who hated the system had very little ability to live by their own conscience. The people who loved the system would destroy them if they tried to change anything, just to keep their hateful system alive.
Such a system is, thankfully, difficult for most Americans to imagine. It is good for us to have such a reminder.
I have heard the criticisms of this movie: Shallow. Heavy-handed. Schmaltz.
Maybe all of these are valid.
It was a good movie on many levels. I liked the attention that was paid to the appearance of historical accuracy. The costumes, hairstyles, cars, buildings, and so on.
The acting was great. The characters were believable and had distinct personalities.
The relationships between the characters were meaningful. It is surprising how few movies achieve this, and without this quality, this movie would have been a complete waste of time. Instead, this movie nailed it, and that makes it one of the best movies I've seen in years.
And finally, I believe that America has left this kind of institutionalized bigotry in its past, except for small pockets of the lunatic fringe here and there, but movies like this are a great way to teach new generations about what has been, and what can be again if we do not guard ourselves against it.
So in short, it may not be an all-time classic, destined for greatness, but it is a very good movie, and I would recommend it to anybody.
As a side note: Yes, I really do believe that America has left this shameful practice in our past. There are people who make a lot of money and gain a lot of power from fighting this system, so it is not hard to see why they keep screaming that institutionalized bigotry is as bad as ever. If they ever admitted that America has evolved away from it, they would have to go out and find a real job.