“The Butler” is a story about the life and career of Cecil Gaines, African-American White House butler. He served through eight presidencies, from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. You see a whole chunk of American history through his eyes: the Civil Rights Movement, the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, and more.
The Butler is also about a father-son relationship. The riff between them is unbearably stretched when the son joins the Black Panthers.
Then there are the revealing views of well-known personalities sprinkled throughout the movie. You see presidents, first ladies, King, little Caroline – close up.
The Butler is a truly great film. Because of a brilliant script, all-star cast, and insightful direction the story unfolds with a simple, elegant flow. It’s understated, yet incredibly deep, rich and full.
Personally, The Butler didn’t make me tear up, I actually sobbed. In the end, I realized the movie was about our heroes, the famous ones and the ones we never hear about.
The Real Man Behind the Story
The Butler is based on the true story of Eugene Allen, an African-American butler who served at the White House from 1952 to 1986. His story first came to light in the 2008 Washington Post article A Butler Well Served By This Election, written by Wil Haygood. Here’s a bit more about that: