“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whatever we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
Lombardi’s wise words apply to one man in particular, Eugene Allen, who worked as a butler in the White House for 34 years before recently passing away in 2010 at age 90. The Butler is based off of Allen’s experiences in the White House. The main character is Cecil Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker. Gaines starts the movie by telling the story of when he was a young boy in the 1920’s growing up as a slave on a cotton plantation in Macon, Georgia. In his teens, he leaves the Westfall plantation in hopes of becoming something better than he’s been raised to be.
Gaines finds himself in Washington D.C., where he goes through a series of jobs and intensive training before he is hired as a butler in 1957 during Eisenhower’s administration. His eldest son, Louis, joins a student-run program at Howard University that brings together and encourages African American students to spread the message of peace and equality. Meanwhile his youngest son, Charlie, has plans of joining American forces in the War in Vietnam. Throughout the movie, Gaines struggles to find a balance between his rigorous work at the White House and putting food on the table for his family at home.
The Civil Rights Movement is heavily touched upon in this movie as they display many brutal attacks and hangings before the March on Washington in 1963. There are plenty of people who could argue that this movie is far too graphic for a PG-13 rating, but the educational aspect of The Civil Rights Movement is something we are taught from a very young age. Equality is practically engrained into us when we’re in our Pre-K years. We were all taught to share our belongings and care for one another as individuals, and none of that has ever been based on the color of our skin.
Although I must say, I was genuinely surprised that I was the youngest, and one of the only people in the theater. Teenagers may not be drawn to this movie simply because they think it’s just another movie about boring historical events: it’s not. The actors take great pride in their characters, as they should. The direction and cinematography are both beautifully done, making the audience feel as though they are witnessing these horrible crimes at the time of The Civil Rights Movement. This movie tells the story of a problem that is still occurring nation-wide and we may not know enough about it. So if you have any free time on your hands, or even if you don’t make time to see this movie. It can be appreciated by all audience members.