The Butler is based on the life of Eugene Allen who worked at the White House for over 34 years, serving 8 Presidents, finally retiring with the most prestigious of butler titles….. Maître d’hôtel. The screenplay was inspired by an article in The Washington Post just prior to the 2008 US Presidential elections called ‘A Butler Well Served by This Election’
Cecil Gaines (Whitaker) was born in the South and as his parents did, he worked picking cotton. After the plantation owner raped his mother and killed his father, the 8 year old child was taken into the house where he was taught the skills he would need as a servant/butler. He left the plantation as a teenager and worked his way into a position where he was recommended for a job in Washington DC. This lead to his position at the White House.
Cecil marries Gloria (Winfrey) and they have 2 sons, one who will join the Freedom Riders and thus start a chain of events that will alter the course of American history. Father and son will always share an uneasy relationship as the elder Gaines, having come from a childhood that was only one step away from slavery, is happy and proud of his role as a butler while the younger man is ashamed and feels the position is demeaning for an African-American.
Cecil is a man of many faces.
First and foremost, he is a butler. He moves silently throughout the White House, having been trained that ‘ the room must feel empty when he is in it’. He is privy to some of the most delicate and important of Presidential conversations. He is treated by many as a family member, he is respected and admired.
He is a man. He is a friend to his neighbours and work colleagues. He is witty and fun, serious and caring. He has a deep sense of diligence and order but can let his hair down and enjoy life.
And he is a family man. Alas, the falls last on his list and for many years, his unhappy wife drank heavily to overcome her loneliness. He does what he thinks is right and this is not what is always right for his family. But his heart is in the right place.
This movie takes place during some of the most turbulent times in modern history, times of great change, particularly for African-Americans fighting for their civil rights. I found it interesting from this point of view. As an educated person, I naturally have some knowledge of recent American history and this movie gave some of the grass-roots movements, such as the Freedom Riders and Black Panthers, a very human face.
I absolutely loved this movie. With such a stellar cast, it would be insulting for me to event comment on acting skills. It was engaging and educational. To witness history from another’s perspective is always valuable. I would recommend you not miss this movie as you will be missing a wonderful experience.
Love Flick xx
Director : Lee Daniels
Starring : Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Mariah Carey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Robin Williams, Jane Fonda, David Banner, Vanessa Redgrave, David Oyelowo, James Marsden, Minka Kelly, Nelsan Ellis, Liev Schreiber, Alex Pettyfer, Terrence Howard
Running Time : 132 minutes
Release Date : In cinemas now …..