As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society.
Cecil Gaines was a sharecropper's son who grew up in the 1920s as a domestic servant for the white family who casually destroyed his. Eventually striking out on his own, Cecil becomes a hotel valet of such efficiency and discreteness in the 1950s that he becomes a butler in the White House itself. There, Cecil would serve numerous US Presidents over the decades as a passive witness of history with the American Civil Rights Movement gaining momentum even as his family has troubles of its own. As his wife, Gloria, struggles with her addictions and his defiant eldest son, Louis, strives for a just world, Cecil must decide whether he should take action in his own way. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Columbia Pictures put the film in turnaround in 2008. The Weinstein Company acquired the distribution rights in 2012. See more »
When Cecil talks to Louis at the bus station, as Louis leaves for college, they walk through a motion-activated bi-part sliding door. The scene is set between 1957 and 1961. The first automatic sliding doors were invented in 1960, and were activated by stepping on a floor mat. Motion sensors were developed in the late 1980s. See more »
We Shall Overcome
Musical and Lyrical adaptation by Zilphia Horton, Frank Hamilton, Guy Carawan and Pete Seeger.
Inspired by African American Gospel Singing, members of the Food & Tobacco Workers Union, Charleston, SC, and the southern Civil Rights Movement.
TRO - (c) Copyright 1960 (Renewed) and 1963 (Renewed) Ludlow Music, Inc., New York
International Copyright Secured Made in U.S.A.
All Rights Reserved Including Public Performance For Profit
Royalties derived from this composition are being contributed to the We Shall Overcome Fund and The Freedom Movement under the Trusteeship of the writers. Used by Permission See more »
The Butler looks at the civil-rights movement from the point of view of ordinary African-American people. The genius of this film is the choice of a white house servant and his life as a focal point to the historical events portrayed.
The drama is both absorbing and emotionally rich. What is surprising is the way that sympathy for Whitaker's central character, Cecil Gaines, is so strong that the events, though sprawling, always resonate as intricate pieces of his life; because of this anchor, the film remains intimate and personal, even when the fate of an entire nation is involved.
Each actor excels here, the reason for this is that they, while obviously being highly talented individuals, are led by a commanding director who knows exactly what he's saying at all times, while keeping all the complexity of his subject matter.
You could say this is an African-American Forrest Gump: the story of an everyman whose fate collides repeatedly with historical figures and events, but The Butler is far more mature and subtle work which, beyond race, questions our roles as men and women in our daily lives. It questions and explores moral responsibility and how from generation to generation we can all search for what is the right moral conduct in the face of opposition, oppression and evil. It also shows how we can make a profound difference in life through dedication, integrity and love.
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