It’s been a blockbuster in the book world for nearly two years. Now there are hopes that the screen adaptation will also top the movie charts for a long time.
The Help is a story about white women in Jackson, Mississippi and their relationship with their black maids, also known as “the help” as the movie and novel are both called.
When I attended a recent screening of the DreamWorks film in Los Angeles, I was stirred by the woman sitting next to me whose eyes were filled with tears as the movie ended. “That was my grandmother,” the attendee said about the servant characters portrayed in the film. She was moved by how the movie captured the essence of the experiences of black maids in the South during the 1960s.
The woman two seats down from me at the screening had already read the book before attending the sneak preview. She told me that while most screen adaptations of books are disappointing, The Help was “really wonderful.”
The popular book was written by Kathryn Stockett who herself is a white woman who had a black maid in her home in Mississippi where she grew up.
Oscar nominated actress Viola Davis (Doubt) plays the role of the maid Aibileen Clark and Octavia Spencer portrays the maid, Minny Jackson. Actress Emma Stone plays Skeeter Phelan, the aspiring writer who gives the maids a platform to share the truth.
The maids in this story are not the typical black maid characters from earlier periods often depicted in movies as passive. These maids are bravely pushing for changing in various ways.
The Help arrives in theaters on Wednesday.