Movie Review: Green Book

Probably the most significant thing about the very good movie “Green Book” is finding out about what the Green Book was. The Green Book was a book that was published in the 50’s and 60’s that documented all the places in the Southern United States that was friendly to black people. The fact that a book like this had to be published so that black people could travel in peace in the South is tragic and represents a harsh reality of bigotry that has existed for far too many years in this country.

The real life story of Green Book is a great one, about a chauffeur who drives a highly talented black piano player Dr. Don Shirley to performance venues in the Midwest and then the deep South in 1962. As a black man having the courage to play shows in the deep south Shirley needed not only a driver but also a body guard so he hired Tony Lip to protect him from the expected bigotry and abuse he knew he would face performing as a black man in some of the most dangerous cities in this country. What is both amazing and depressing about this story is that even though Don Shirley was a greatly respected piano player who played shows to rich white people, he was not even allowed to use the bathroom, dine at the restaurant or even try on a suit jacket in a local clothing store.

Early in this story, we find out that Tony Lip is also a bigot even stooping to throwing out drinking glasses in his house because two black repairmen drank from them. The point of this story is all about the transition from bigotry to humanity and it reminded me of the great movie released in 2000, “Remember the Titans”, starring Denzel Washington who was the coach of a racially divided high school football team. The message here is that bigotry exists because of stupidity, fear and prejudice born out of habit. When people are put together as people then all that remains is that we are all just human beings first and foremost, and the color of our skin has never been relevant. Its always been the most tragic that a concept this basic and obvious has been so unreachable to so many people.

The acting in Green Book is outstanding with Viggo Mortensen as Tony Lip and Mahershala Ali as Dr. Don Shirley. This film should definitely receive an Academy Award nomination for best picture with possible nominations for both Mortensen and Ali. I highly recommend Green Book as one of the very best movies of 2018.

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