The Help opens this week in movie theaters. Last year, I won an amazing trip to visit the movie set in Mississippi. I took my friend Naomi who told me about the book. We had a blast! Not only did we get a chance to talk with several of the main actresses and director, Tate Taylor, we even got to share a slice of Minny’s famous chocolate pie!
A few nights ago, I saw the movie and wanted to let you know my thoughts and how it compares to the book along with some fun stories from my trip and a giveaway!
When you love a book, you know the movie is not going to the same. There is no way to fit every scene from a book into less than two hours. As a fan of the book, I have to say… this movie was well done! It’s hard to imagine, not too long ago, this was reality for black women in the south. I think Tate Taylor did a great job of telling the women’s stories while also keeping true to the book. From the costumes and set designs, to the wonderful acting and doses of hilarious humor thrown in, you can’t help but be moved.
While on the movie set, we were lucky enough to watch this scene with Skeeter (Emma Stone), Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer). It’s the scene where Minny reveals the “terrible awful” about what she did to the mean-spirited, social-climbing Hilly Holbrook.
We weren’t actually on the set with this view, we were sitting with the directors watching it on a monitor and listening to the sound through head phones. For such a dramatic scene, we were amazed by the actress’s talents. They would be cracking up about something silly in between scenes and then as soon as they called ACTION, it was serious business.
Let me just say… this scene is one of the BEST parts of the movie. Sissy Spacek who plays Missus Walters is a scene stealer. There was so much laughter in the theater that I need to see the movie again just to know what was actually said!
What’s amazing, is most of the movie was shot in a giant warehouse. We weren’t allowed to take photos of the set, but if you can imagine walking into a huge building and going back to the 1960’s, that’s what it was like. They had the interiors of everyone’s homes built here, along with a giant backdrop of the New York City skyline for the outside of Mrs. Stine’s office.
When you’re on a movie set like this, time stops. There are no windows and you’re back in time. It was the oddest feeling. I couldn’t imagine working there for 6 months to a year! I talked with Viola Davis, who plays Aibileen, at lunch and she said yes, it’s really hard to be gone from home for so long. She will go home and forget how to work her TV remote control. Viola was so nice and down to earth. It was a pleasure talking to her, but so crazy because she was dressed as Aibileen! She was perfect for the role, she made Aibileen even better. It was like I was in the book having lunch with Aibileen. So strange!
They were close to wrapping up the movie, so all of the props were in another warehouse for sale! I walked into this room and about had a heart attack when someone told me I could shop! Look at all of the amazing furniture… and this was just a portion of the props. A vintage junk shopper’s heaven!
Unfortunately, everything good that I wanted to buy already had the director’s name on it. Tate Taylor had just bought a plantation while he was in Mississippi and needed to furnish it. Too bad for me, he has great taste:-)
Besides the hilarious Minny, Celia Foote was my favorite character of the book. Each rack in the warehouse was sorted by rooms and characters. I was excited to find this old jewelry box on Celia’s rack. So that was what I went home with. I looked for it in the movie, but didn’t see it. If you do, let me know!
When I read about the actress playing Celia (Jessica Chastain), I couldn’t picture her in this role. Well, she was absolutely amazing. Besides such a wonderful story, the actors are truly incredible.
One actress that I think you’ll see a lot of in the future is Octavia Spencer (Minny). We met her at dinner one evening with producer, Brunson Green. She just plopped down beside us and had a conversation. Absolutely the sweetest woman. She is hilarious too and who writer Kathryn Stockett based the character of Minny on in the first place.
We had such a fun time in Greenwood, Mississippi. I’ve shared more behind the scenes of the movie here as well. Go see it and tell me what you think!
We of course came prepared with books for the actresses to sign. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer were kind enough to talk with us and sign our books. I brought an extra one, just to give away to a special reader!! I’ve been saving this for nearly a year and excited to give it away!!!
(This giveaway is in no way affiliated with the movie.)
Giveaway is closed – Winner Update
Congratulations to Michele!!
I loved reading the comments and learning how much this book touched so many of you! Michele and her sister loved it so much, they did “The Help Road Trip “to Mississippi.
I’m so excited Michele won the autographed book. You’ll see why when you read the comment she left here:
Oh my goodness – what a movie! I’m sitting in our hotel in Jackson, and my sister and I are so glad we did this trip! Ironically, we played Johnny Cash’s “Going to Jackson” in the car to start a trip, having no idea that this was the song that would open the movie!
Once in Jackson, we started with Brent’s Drugs for dinner, and took tons of pictures everywhere we went. It was so much fun to see the diner we had eaten in yesterday afternoon on the screen last night!
Next we did the Help Driving tour – again, pictures of everything. It was cool to be familiar with the street names and places like the Jitney Jungle (now called McDade’s) when we were watching the movie. Our final destination was Medgar Evers’ house, which ended our tour on a somber note. While the house is maintained by organizations, it sits in a horribly run down area of Jackson and has very little fanfare. No signs on the roads that I could see announcing Medgar Evers’ home, merely a large bronze plaque on the house and a historical sign at the curbside. Sobering to look around and realize that his neighborhood was so run down and didn’t look like a place that anyone would choose to move into. Economic disparities were so obvious in Jackson, and it made me wonder just how far we have really come.
On to the movie- ours was sold out, so every seat was taken. I LOVED the movie! When I saw the cast months ago, I couldn’t envision any of them as the characters I had construed in my head. Now I can’t remember the characters I had imagined because the actors so embodied the personalities in the book. We laughed and cried, and we must see this one again!
On to Ole Miss today, then our Help vacation is done. My sister returns to Maryland in a few days, and my 3 month stay at St Jude ends in 2 weeks. I will remember this little 2 day adventure as one of the most awesome vacations ever. Amazing how 1 book could inspire so many of us. Hopefully, it will actually bring some much needed change in the way we all see each other.
Thanks for sharing your trip pictures and for the chance to win this book. Also, thanks for the opportunity to chronicle my little adventure in my 3 entries – I don’t have a blog/website, but now I have a mini journal of my escapade!