Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Butler: A Wittness to History by Wil Haygood **Review**

The Butler: A Witness to History

From Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellow Wil Haygood comes a mesmerizing inquiry into the life of Eugene Allen, the butler who ignited a nation's imagination and inspired a major motion picture: Lee Daniels' The Butler, the highly anticipated film that stars six Oscar winners, including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey (honorary and nominee), Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Redgrave, and Robin Williams; as well as Oscar nominee Terrence Howard, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden, David Oyelowo, Alex Pettyfer, Alan Rickman, and Liev Schreiber.

With a foreword by the Academy Award nominated director Lee Daniels, The Butler not only explores Allen's life and service to eight American Presidents, from Truman to Reagan, but also includes an essay, in the vein of James Baldwin’s jewel The Devil Finds Work, that explores the history of black images on celluloid and in Hollywood, and fifty-seven pictures of Eugene Allen, his family, the presidents he served, and the remarkable cast of the movie.

My Review:
This book opened my eyes in a new way. I think we all know about the history of our country; the good, bad, and ugly. And we have come a long way for sure. This story opened my eyes to what the butlers were expected; to hear things that were hurtful, mean, disparaging, then uplifting...but never able to speak one's opinion on that matter. The actual story of Eugene Allen came to climax when President Obama became president. To be able to watch and listen to history change and unfold up-close and personal but, not be able to speak of it...must have been painfully difficult. My parents and grandparents lived through these times, my family fought for these same American's that were fighting for their right to vote, speak their mind, and be treated as a human, as whites were. I am so glad we are no longer in those times. I wished there was more memories from Mr. Allen in the book, more stories about what he witnessed. The book seemed to be of Mr. Allen's story from the author's perspective and agenda. I didn't necessarily care for that. I think we all picked up this book to learn about this courageous man who served eight presidents, not the author's agenda to rush through Mr. Allen's story to get to his own agenda.
 I finished this book last night, and watched the movie today. I didn't care for the major changes they made from the book...although I understood why they did...but the movie was very good all in all.
Image result for The butlerThen Wil Haygood goes down another road of history; cinematic  history. I didn't quite understand why he went there for a second, then realizing he was tying into the movie of The Butler. But on the flip side, I don't know if it was necessarily important to voice the struggles of black/African American  people trying to find their voice and place in cinema /cinematic history.
The one big thing I did not care for in the movie, at the very end they sound as though they are minimizing what other people have gone through, such as the Jews at the concentration camps. That rubbed me very wrong. The star studded cast did a fabulous job on this movie, including the late Robin Williams (RIP).

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