Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Help: Fiction vs. Film


Welcome to Jackson, Mississippi; it's the1960s, during one of the most tumultuous time periods in American history. Meet Miss Skeeter, a white Southern woman, who decides to collaborate with black maids to change the way things are in Jackson between the maids and the white families for which they work.


So much for individuality; I like every woman in the United States, just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. If you know me, you know I hate to be left out. 

First off, for those of you who haven't gotten around to reading it, it's a very looooong novel. It was very entertaining; it kept my attention and I was always wondering what was going to happen next. I really liked the character of Miss Skeeter because she reminded me of myself with her aspirations of being a novelist/journalist and her having to move back into her mother's house at the age of 23 because she hadn't found a husband at college or a post-college job. 

When I got to the end of the novel, there were certain characters about whom I wondered  what would happen to them after the novel ended. I don't know if it's enough suspense to warrant a sequel but I was left feeling a little unsatisfied since I wouldn't know what happened next to them.

Also, when I finished the novel, I was a little disappointed. To me, the novel did not read as a social criticism like I thought it was supposed to. I think Uncle Tom's Cabin said a lot more about social and racial inequality. The Help reads more like entertainment. 

I also wasn't really a fan of the part the author included about her childhood maid. It seemed as  if she took that one experience and based an entire novel that included stories from more than a dozen fictional maids off of it, which isn't enough information. It was as if she was trying to use her one experience as "research" for the novel. 


Remember how I said that the novel was very long; imagine trying to put all that into a film. Even though The Help was 146 minutes long, this was not sufficient time to include everything in the novel. There were a couple of parts of the plot that I thought were important, entertaining, and very telling of the characters, and they were left out of the film. 

They also changed some of the situations in the movie, particularly the one dealing with why Skeeter's childhood maid, Constantine was not there when Skeeter returned from Ole Miss. I like the reason from the novel way more than the one in the film. 

The actresses chosen for this film were above par. The woman playing Miss Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) did a wonderful job; you seriously wanted to slap for her for all the racist and mean things she said and did to the maids. I like Bryce Dallas Howard and I didn't even recognize her because she was so into this role. 

I also did not recognize Emma Stone, who played Miss Skeeter. Stone was so spunky and full of energy in this film. Jessica Chastain pulled off the crazy Miss Celia well. 

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, who played Aibileen and Minny, were perhaps the stars of the films. Davis knew how to play Aibileen in a way to evoke emotion and Spencer was quite humerous in her role as Minny. 

Also there were several scenes in the film that brought tears to my eyes toward the end. 


Overall, both the book and the movie were great. If I had to choose though, I'd probably pick the book over the movie, because I think you miss a lot of the depth of the characters and some important and interesting plot lines in the movie due to the lack of time and the changes they made.

Have you read or seen The Help? What did you think? What did you like? What did you not like? Please share your thoughts!  


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