Friday, August 30, 2013
One genre of film I've always been a fan of are films based on a true story. Be they happy or sad- they always manage to move me and make me ponder on the subject(s) of the story. I came across this title by chance- about an African American man who served as a butler in the White House for 34 years; witnessed Presidents come and go and the several changes in America. Loosely based on the real life White House butler Eugene Allen who died at age 90 in 2010; THE BUTLER stars Oscar Winner, Forrest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) as Cecil Gaines , Queen of Talk Show Oprah Winfrey as his wife Gloria, Robin Williams as President Dwight Eisenhower, James Mardsen as President Kennedy, Liev Schreiber as President Lyndon Johnson, John Cusack as President Richard Nixon, British actor Alan Rickman as President Ronald Reagan, Jane Fonda as First Lady Nancy Regan and Orlando Eric Street as President Obama.
While I want to see the movie badly, I'm more interested in the man this film is based on, Eugene Allen. I keep picturing this unassuming yet professional man who first started as a pantry boy in the White House and then served 8 presidents during his 34 years of service. From what I researched, he was respected by each president he served, he got to meet Dr. Martin Luther King, Sammy Davis Jr. and Elvis Presley; was invited to a state dinner by the Reagans, given one of President Kennedy's ties by Mrs. Kennedy.
But what moved me the most was that Eugene lived to witness the first African American- Barack Obama- sworn in as President. I keep imagining how he must have felt that historical day, most probably tears filling his eyes and wishing his wife Helene had lived to see the day; especially since he received a special invitation to the swearing-in. For a man who endured segregation growing up, it must have been absolutely wonderful seeing that and I keep thanking God amidst tears of my own for His Mercy- for letting Eugene see it!God rest his soul.
The second must see is MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM- based on Nelson Mandela's autobiography; from his childhood and coming of age, 27 years in prison and eventual release. The previous film about his early days as President of South Africa was INVICTUS starring Morgan Freeman; this time British actor Idris Elba will play Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela. Considering everything Mandela endured and fought against- it is a guaranteed tear jerker.