The Help is a 2011 American drama film adaptation of the novel of the same name (2009) by Kathryn Stockett, adapted for the screen and directed by Tate Taylor. Featuring an ensemble cast, the film is about a young white woman, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone), and her relationship with two black maids, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer) during Civil Rights era America (the early 1960s).
Skeeter is a journalist who decides to write a book from the point of view of the maids, exposing the racism they are faced with as they work for white families. Unlike her friends, who attended university to find husbands and are now all married and having children, Skeeter is single, has a degree, and wants to begin a career as a writer. Her first job is as a “homemaker hints” columnist in the local paper. Skeeter asks Aibileen, the maid to her good friend, Elizabeth (Ahna O’Reilly), for her help in answering domestic questions.
Skeeter becomes uncomfortable with the attitude her friends have towards their help, especially Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her “Home Help Sanitation Initiative,” a proposed bill to provide for separate toilets for black help because she believes – as she states – that “black people carry different diseases to white people.” Amidst the era of discrimination based on color, Skeeter is one of the few who believe otherwise, and she decides to write a book based on the lives of the maids who have spent their entire lives taking care of white children.
This is an amazing movie. I just finished watching it a few minutes ago and my emotions are still reacting to it. After hearing a commentator talk about it, I had almost decided not to watch it, but I’m glad I did. I’m old enough to have lived through the time period covered. What I observed as a small child was only the tip of the iceberg. This movie brought out so much more that I just hadn’t noticed or thought about. While the movie itself was done in an entertaining manner, I just have a sick feeling. I don’t think I’ll ever forget some of the scenes.
Director: Tate Taylor
Year of Release: 2011
Character to watch: Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?