THE HELP and SARAH’S KEY:
Here are a couple of remarkable movies. In both cases superb books preceded the films and in both cases the movie makers did an excellent job of translating the book to the screen. I see some strong similarities between the two. The protagonists, Skeeter in Help and Juliet in Sarah’s Key were both willing to make extreme sacrifices to get at the truth. Both were dealing with situations that are black marks in the history of two great nations. Slavery, and the resulting de facto segregation in the South; and the deaths of thousands of French Jews, not at the hands of the Nazis, but by their fellow French countrymen.
The white employers in The Help closed their eyes to the injustices they perpetrated on their black employees. In France, in 1942, Frenchmen closed their eyes to their friends and neighbors being forced from their apartments and sent to death camps. Both Skeeter and Juliet won and lost in their quest for the truth. They won moral victories. Skeeter gained the respect, admiration, and affection of the black community. However, she lost her friendships with all the women she grew up with and she lost her lone love interest in the story who couldn’t cope with the truth. Juliet won the love, admiration, and respect of her distrustful father-in-law. She lost her husband who, although there were other issues involved, couldn’t handle the truth either. Both films raise the issue of how each of us would have acted in the situations some of the movies’ characters were in. In being almost mirror images of themselves the movies hold up mirrors to ourselves.