The Help – the film

It is a widely agreed fact that “the film of the book” is never as good as the book. (At least, I can’t think of any exceptions off the top of my head).

However, I am not one of those people who hate seeing their favourite book turned into a film, because of all they leave out, the characters who just don’t look like they did in your head, the altered ending. I get that a film is a very different story-telling medium to a book. I am a die-hard bookworm, but I also love a good film, so I can generally enjoy any “film of the book” for what it is, without comparing it too much to the book.

Still, I was bound to be just a wee bit nervous this week when Rasmus and I went to see the film of probably my favourite book of the year, thus far.

I read The Help in the spring time, I can’t quite remember when and apparently I didn’t write about it here, coz I can’t find it in the archives. But really and truly, I LOVED it. It is clever and wonderful and moving and so very special.

And yes, the film left out a lot, changed some of it. But I think it also really managed to capture both the fear and mistrust between white and black people at that time, and also the precious relationships that formed across the divide. It was a lovely film, I sobbed through a couple of scenes – most especially every time Aibileen tells Mae Mobley “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”.

I also loved the scenes between Minny and Celia. In the book, they had been my least favourite scenes, I preferred those with Skeeter and Aibileen. But the film showed this amazing relationship between them, the difficulty of being different and experiencing rejection, not matter whether you’re white or black. Theirs was a beautiful storyline.

I also adored every scene with Cicely Tyson in because I am entirely in love with her. She made me cry when she recited the famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” of Sojourner Truth, the 19th century abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. If you haven’t watched that speech, you should.

I read an article not long ago by Kathryn Stockett, the author of The Help. She received 60 rejection letters for the manuscript of The Help before someone finally saw its potential and decided to publish it. SIXTY. She writes,

“The point is, I can’t tell you how to succeed. But I can tell you how not to: Give in to the shame of being rejected and put your manuscript—or painting, song, voice, dance moves, [insert passion here]—in the coffin that is your bedside drawer and close it for good. I guarantee you that it won’t take you anywhere. Or you could do what this writer did: Give in to your obsession instead.”

That’s a powerful thought for the day, I think…