The Help

I went to see The Help tonight in my local cinema.

I read the book a few months ago after recommendation from a friend, and thought it was brilliant. So I was very excited to go and see it. I’d been disappointed that all the Cineworld cinemas across the country appeared in it’s opening week to be screening only 3 showings a day – if I consider that something like Paranormal Activity 3 (which has 4 showings in it’s 3rd week and God knows why they needed a trilogy) can be more “highly valued and promoted” by business… that gives me cause for concern.

But, upon arrival, I was not disappointed as I took my seat. I had wondered if critics were negative, if the film did not live up to the book. But it did. And the cinema was packed out! Considering it was 4:30pm and it’s already been screening for a week, I was grinning, marvelling at the cinema’s apparent misjudgement.

Now I’ve never seen Paranormal Activity, and have no desire to. Nor do I desire to see any of the (seven!) Saw films. I’ve watched plenty of horror films in my time, and never been able to enjoy them. First of all, I never found them scary. And while the really old obviously fake ones can be a bit of fun with a bunch of mates on Halloween with some popcorn, modern “let’s make it as real as possible” ones do absolutely nothing for me. I’ve been persuaded to waste countless hours of my life on horror/suspense/thrillers, and never understood the pull of them. An hour and a half of death and violence? Well fine – if it’s for a reason. I’ve watched in my college cinema several dramatised films about the World Wars. They left us in silence by the end, with a solemn nod from the teacher and a few brief words of remembrance, as we understand what violence can do and learn from it. But for entertainment? For “fun”? Again I’m not saying that there aren’t good films out there that add comedy to serious things. Some humour in the trenches amongst the men, some “humanity” is needed to hold it all together. To give hope. To keep us going. But not “blood-soaked fun” as horror film has been described.

I’ve never understood horror films. But then I am the girl who has a very serious fear (and yes it’s incredibly irrational) of The Aristocats. Honestly.

…What I’m trying to get across here, is that I value films, and books, and everything in life really, that has value and meaning. I’m not a “killjoy” (I once stuck a ‘Kick Me’ poster to my History teacher’s back in high school – with laughs from both of us and friendly students). It is true that I love learning. But learning, whether from books or films or from one another, is what really heightens life… for me. I’m not, although I don’t understand them, condemning the viewers of horror films. The message I’m trying to get across, is that I simply wish that the world could get their priorities right. Laughing at another’s pain, whether in film or real life, is true “horror”. (But then Homer strangling Bart in The Simpsons always has me going. Hmm. You know what I mean.) Whatever our interests are (and including me here) we need to take things more seriously. Not so seriously that we all become the stereotypical politician, but that we all become loving and value life enough to help one another.

When we’re looking for true gifts, true joy, as my priest so eloquently put it in his sermon on Sunday, we must pay more attention to the value of life, of love, and less to the BMW waiting in the garage. Or to the Saw DVD of course…

The Help, for those of you who don’t know, is about courage. It is about the voice of women and black people, coloured people, who are treated as slaves by the whites of 1960s American Mississipi. It is about standing up for what is right in the face of adversity. Of loving your enemies, whilst loving your friends.

It made me (and everyone else in the cinema) laugh and cry. It was a powerful, beautiful, uplifting film. Highly recommended.

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