The Butler | Politics, Costumes and Crying {A MiH Review}

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Mr MiH and I have finally managed to go to the cinema together. Whoohoo! However it was in France and so we watched a film that has been out for a couple of months now, Lee Daniels' the Butler. I don't usually review films, but this is worth seeing - for the politics as well as the fashion!

The film is inspired by the story of Eugene Allen, an African-American who was a butler at the White House from 1952 to 1986. His fictionalized surrogate is Cecil Gaines who leaves his tragedy-laden Southern life behind to start anew in our nation’s capital. Much to the delight of his wife, Gloria (Oprah Winfrey), and the chagrin of his burgeoning-activist son, Louis (David Oyelowo - from the early Spooks), Cecil’s attentiveness to the needs of the civic elite earns him a job at the presidential manse. It’s there that he spends several epochal decades, observing as people of power deal with questions of war abroad and civil rights at home.

The list of brilliant actors in the film is endless - and they are all brilliant in it. But let's talk Made in Home here, and Gloria's fashion sense in the film. The film follows Cecil through time and as he is mostly in a butler outfit (funnily enough) it is in fact Gloria/Oprah who gets to show the changes in decades through her outfits. 

Had to also include Lenny Kravitz in here..

Ruth Carter, who was the costume designer, talked about researching the costumes for the film and explained that for Cecil and Gloria's story, she was inspired by online archives of the lifestyles of people who lived in Washington, DC in the ’50s and the ’60s. to ensure that there was a clear divide between the two worlds of Cecil: the White House and Home. She also used the Ebony magazine a lot as Oprah’s character is for her the Ebony woman.The full interview is here and is very interesting to read.

You also get to swoon over Jackie O's outfits - although not for long, but long enough to get some shift dress envy.

To be honest watching Oprah boogie in a crocheted disco suit (I included a picture of the jumpsuit - but it is not a great one) is worth the ticket purchase alone.

I personally loved it, I learnt a lot, I laughed and I cried.. Oprah is the real star of the film and would be getting a best supporting actress Oscar if it was up to me. If you are into watching fashion through the decades, you will find it a great film too!

If the film is still showing in your area (and there is a kind soul to babysit the little ones), go and see it - it is worth it.


  1. Great review though I am still stuck on the phrase crocheted disco suit.

  2. Glad you and Mr MIH got to go on a 'date' together, very important to have some couple time. Thanks for the review as I have wondered about this movie.

  3. Yes, a babysitter would be much needed.

  4. Great language you've used in this review. This seems like such an interesting movie as I didn't know there butlers in the White House.