The Help Reviews
"The Help" tells the story of two black maids called Aibileen and Minny, living in Jackson in the Mississippi in the sixties. They were working for white people like all the black maids in town. One day, a white woman who dedicated herself to writing and whose name was Eugenia Phelan, asked Aibileen to testify about her life as a maid to write a book. They both knew it was very dangerous because Aibileen could get killed and Eugenia could go to jail for making acquaintance. Miss Phelan also got a dozen of other black maids telling their stories to fulfill her project. They didn't expect the book to be a best-seller but indeed it was.
The performances of the actors were just perfect. They had to act like the people in the sixties. They represented the black maids as very scared people but also intelligent and caring, loving and funny with the children of whom they were taking care. Miss Holbrook was nasty, racist without knowing she was, ignoring... while Miss Phelan was very helpful with the maids, clever, hard-working... It almost created a back in time.
I think that the characters were believable: they managed to convey different emotions and atmospheres and it gave me the impression that I was in the movie just watching what was going on. The only things that were a little bit disturbing were the differences between the book and the movie. It doesn't matter if some scenes weren't represented in the movies because the film would have been too long but I think that the emotions of the maids were not enough perfected. For example, in the book, we know that it was very hard for the maids and especially Aibileen to talk about their lives in the book but in the movie she accepted Eugenia's request almost immediately.
There is a great work on the cinematography of "The Help". There were all the types of camera angles (high angle shots, low angle shots,...), some tracking shots and static shots. The light is natural because it was shot outside and also artificial because of the lamps adding clarity on the set. The scenes are usually long so we get more information and there are many camera shots.
The movie starts with a music which dates back to the sixties to convey a smooth atmosphere. All along the film, the soundtrack is slow and sad to underline the poor conditions of the Black population at that time. When it comes to the improvement of the black conditions, the director plays a fast-paced music. The movie finishes with a triumphant song called "the living proof" sung by Mary J. Blige. It illustrates the victory of the fight led by the blacks even if it suggested. The music accompanies the plot of the movie.
The costumes are very important in the film because they are illustrative of the different social classes of the American society in the sixties.
This masterpiece was released to denounce the racialism of most Americans during that period. To do so, they traced back the lives of black maids with everyday details to make the viewers experience the poor conditions of such a people. It is very convincing because the director makes the public share their ill-treatment.
The thematic is relatively commonplace but the emotional aspect makes it original.
This is my personal analysis but it is reflected in the different feelings experienced by the characters: we are switching from sadness to happiness going through melancholy, loneliness and hatred towards the white population.
The subject is highly topical and can provide an efficient lesson to all the current xenophobia movements in the world.