The film "Green Book" is released in Russia, a road movie about an American musician with African roots touring the southern states during an era of harsh racial segregation. The comedy drama has already received a Golden Globe and may soon bring Oscars to the leading actors Viggo Mortensen and Mahershale Ali, director Peter Farrelli (20-25 years ago, together with his brother Bobby, he churned out such popular hits as Dumb and even dumber "," Me, me and Irene "and" Love is evil "; truly America is a country of second chances) and screenwriter Nick Vallelonge, who retells the real story of his father Tony and hired him as his driver, the classical virtuoso pianist Don Shirley.
Vallelonga Jr. wanted to tell about their adventures back in the early eighties. Shirley agreed, but made a fundamental condition: not to publish anything while he is alive. From the film, released five years after his death (at the same time, in 2013, Vallelonga Sr. also died), it becomes clear why. "Green Book" is a miniature portrait of American society, whose members gradually, overcoming mutual suspicion and awkwardness, learn to respect each other regardless of origin. But first of all, it is a deeply personal story of the partnership of two very dissimilar people, which in the film turns into a comedy of mores (besides, told through the prism of a white hero - for this and for historical inaccuracies, the "Green Book" was criticized by the musician's family and some film critics).
The sophisticated intellectual Don Shirley (Ali) at first shies away from the rude manners of his hired driver, bodyguard, and, ultimately, "decision makers." Tony Vallelonga (Mortensen), a simple-minded handyman from a family of Italian immigrants, accustomed to solving issues either directly in the jaw or with a well-hung tongue, for which he was nicknamed Tony Guba in the area, is sincerely perplexed that his passenger does not know the music of "his people" (that is, Sam Cook and Aretha Franklin), and twists his face when he is poked in the face with chicken legs from Colonel Sanders. But the further they go deeper into the states, where not only segregation, but also slavery, it seems, has not been completely abolished, the more problems they begin to face - and they are imbued with sympathy for each other, like comrades in arms.
didn't make money
on this book. They were just doing a service to their community."
The title reference book appears a couple of times in the film, and the rest of the time it is presented more as a metaphor, although this is also a real historical artifact and is no less interesting. Harlem resident Victor Green began publishing "Green Book for Drivers' N *** s" in the 1930s (hence the name that sounds politically incorrect today), and for many African Americans his guide has become a real survival guide: in other parts of the country turning "the wrong way" could cost them their health, and even their lives. “It wasn’t a business,” explains Meira Liriano of the Schomburg Center for the Study of African American Culture. - [The publishers] didn't make money [from this book]. They were just doing a service to their community."
Significantly, following the adoption of the Civil Rights Bill in 1964, a book with addresses of establishments serving African Americans - as well as a list of so-called sundown towns that they were strongly discouraged from staying after sunset - two more of the year continued to come out. Then she disappeared from store shelves, but not from the memory of a generation. Playwright Calvin Ramsey, author of The Green Book (unrelated to the film and its creators), learned about the guide in 2001 after a friend's 80-year-old grandfather advised him to take the book with him for a funeral trip. The old man, who had not left New York for a long time, was confident that traveling to the southern states for an American with African roots might still be unsafe. In part, he was right: 2015 statistics suggest that racial prejudice continues to dominate the traffic police in at least nineteen American states.
The ability to adapt to harsh reality, which gave rise to the "Green Book", does not negate the need to assert your rights
“For me, Green Book has become something of a love letter,” says Ramsey. “There was a time when we loved each other so much that we opened our houses just to keep the other black person safe. In those days, you could be a superstar, a singer, an artist - and you still had nowhere to sleep, eat and wash. So this book embodies love and the desire to preserve dignity."
"Dignity" is perhaps the key word - both for the history of the "Green Book", and for the heroes of the film, who in the end find a common language thanks to a common understanding of what it means to respect oneself. On-screen Don Shirley - whose prototype in real life, in his youth, heard from the famous impresario Sol Hurok that, despite his brilliant talent, the "colored" has nothing to do among classical musicians - he has to fight for human dignity at every parking lot. And watching this, Tony Guba decides that it is worth adding an amendment to the wording he has adopted “if you want to live, be able to spin”.
The ability to adapt to the harsh reality that gave rise to the Green Book does not negate the need to defend your rights. It is not for nothing that in the 1949 edition, Green and his co-authors left a prophecy in the preface that soon came true: "In the near future, the day will come when this book will no longer have to be published."
PHOTOS: Capella Film