Green Book - Lessons and Illustrations from the Oscar winning film
For many people ‘Green Book’ was a surprise winner of award for Best Film in the Oscars this year, but with hindsight it ticks a lot of boxes that you might look for in a winning film.
It is well crafted and brilliantly acted.
It offers humour and poignant insight.
It comments on some relatively recent sad social history and yet offers hope.
It is also a story of how people can change when they share a workplace (a frontline) with others.
Green Book is a road movie, but it’s a road movie in which the two principal actors are working and spend long hours together and within the unfolding story of their interaction with each other – there might be some lessons we could refer to – when looking for whole-life illustrations.
A brilliant black pianist and composer agrees to travel south in the US to perform, where he will face discrimination and danger because of the colour of his skin. He hires a white driver (who has family links to the local Italian mob) to also act as bodyguard employed specifically to get all him to all the venues and safely back home.
If we are going to pick out any possible illustrations from this film, and there are many, we should also offer some cautions. The film is not for everyone and, somewhat inevitably, there are issues of violence, sex and sexuality that we would want to warn about and not condone.
Without wanting to spoil the film too much for any who do go to see it.
The pianist become a mouthpiece for truth and justice in his workplace with his accompanying driver.
He makes the driver return a small token ‘polished stone’ he has stolen.
He has an attitude to his musical work far beyond monetary reward.
He is looking to change the opinion of those he performs for and meets, about black people, and is prepared to face personal risk to do so.
Effectively his presence moulds the culture of his work place.
As they spend time together, the conversation progresses beyond work and helpful advice is given and received.
Along the way the driver gradually but definitely changes his attitude and rethinks his own prejudices about black people.
Part of the beauty of the film is that the lessons are far from only one-way.
They learn from each other, reluctantly at first but as time progresses a firm friendship is formed.
Today and everyday our people share frontlines with others and our prayer is that their presence makes a difference over time. If we use it with appropriate cautions and caveats Green Book might have some timely lessons for them.