Holiday Gift Guide | The Help Blu-ray & DVD Review
In June of this year, I had the privilege of traveling to Los Angeles for a special screening of the DreamWorks film, The Help. It was a movie I planned on seeing with some girl friends after we saw the trailer for The Help when watching another book turned movie, Water For Elephants. The trailer sent shivers up my spine, and I knew I would fall head over heels in love with it.
I’d read The Help for book club, a bit reluctantly because there was so much hype surrounding it. The book couldn’t possibly live up to all that, now could it? I liked the book. I’ve read it twice, once for that book club meeting, and then right before I headed out to L.A. to see the movie. I wanted the book fresh in my mind before seeing the movie. A lot of people say that the book is always better than the movie. This is one of those rare instances where I felt that the movie was far better in terms of characterization and plot than the book. Whereas there were parts in the book that either annoyed or disappointed me, there is not a single thing I would want altered in the movie.
I would be totally shocked if I were to find a single person who has not heard about either the book or the movie The Help (and it’s true; I was shocked when I just now asked my neighbor if she had seen The Help or if she wanted to see it. She had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. I’m still sitting here, slightly dazed, that she has no clue. Especially because I couldn’t stop talking about the movie after I saw it, and I know I told her about the movie.)
I have been impatiently waiting for The Help to come out on Blu-ray so I could add it to my collection and watch it any time that I want. The wait is over; The Help is available as of December 6th, 2011 in a 3-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack, 2-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack, or 1-disc DVD and I am grateful to have received my copy early in order to review it.
For those who might not have heard about The Help yet, it is set in Mississippi in the 1960’s and follows the lives of black maids and the families that they care for. Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone) is an idealistic, privileged young woman who rebels against her society’s values and gives voice to those who cannot speak for themselves when she writes a book from the black maids’ perspectives that reveals both the good and the bad in their lives. She recruits her friend Elizabeth’s maid, Aibileen (Viola Davis) to be the first one she interviews. At first, Aibileen refuses to say anything against her employer, but her close bond with her young charge and the way Elizabeth treats the little girl prompts her to finally speak up. Eventually Aibileen convinces her best friend, Minny (Octavia Spencer), to tell her own story to Skeeter. None of them expected that so many maids would then follow suit, or that the book after its publication would be so successful. None of them anticipated how it would affect their own community, or Skeeter’s future.
The Help extracted so many reactions from me: laughter, tears, sorrow, happiness, and everything in between. It is such a powerful, thought-provoking film that I feel everyone should see. I believe it is so powerful that it will encourage people to reflect upon how they treat other people. Even though this film depicts several decades ago, some of the behavior in this film still occurs today.
The Help also has some truly excellent Bonus Features; I’m bashfully admitting that I shed even more tears when watching The Making of “The Help”: From Friendship to Film and In Their Own Words: A Tribute to the Maids of Mississippi.
The Making of “The Help”: From Friendship to Film is about 23 minutes long and features director and screenplay writer Tate Taylor, author Kathryn Stockett, producer Brunson Green, and actresses Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sissy Spacek, and Emma Stone providing us with a tour of Greenwood, Mississippi, where the film was shot. Tate, Kathryn, Octavia, and Allison also talk about their friendships and how they first met. They’ve all been friends with one another for many years, and this movie is also a celebration about the friendships.
In Their Own Words: A Tribute to the Maids of Mississippi features Tate Taylor and Octavia Spencer interviewing several generations of maids and their daughters. Tate Taylor’s own family maid is shown in this interview. She is like a mother to Tate, and is a wonderful example of the good relationships between the maids and their employers.
Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Tate Taylor contains several different scenes and explanations from Tate Taylor as to why these scenes didn’t make the final cut. I laughed at 2 of the scenes in particular, where Skeeter’s mother finds out Stuart is the son of the senator, and where Minny hides in the pantry when Johnny Foote arrives home early from work. I enjoyed watching them, but agree with Tate Taylor that they weren’t necessary for the film in the long run.
Mary J. Blige’s “The Living Proof” Music Video shows singer/songwriter Mary J. Blige singing in the studio and then cuts in scenes from The Help. This is a powerful song, and was written for The Help, though it has since been featured in a recent commercial for the TV show Private Practice.
*I did not receive any financial compensation for this review, though I did review a sample of the product for evaluation purposes. The opinions are based only on my experiences with the product.*