Green Book: Controversy & legacy

The film that won the best picture award at Oscar’s in 2019 is the Green Book. The story takes us on a concert tour that Dr. Donald Shirley, a renowned classical and jazz pianist took in the Deep South during the segregated era of 1962.  

In this journey, he is accompanied by his Italian American driver, Tony Vallelonga aka Tony Lip who is a tough guy from the Bronx chosen particularly for this risky job of a temporary chauffeur and security guard. Tony was prejudiced against blacks before his trip; had stereotypical assumptions and occasionally used racial slurs. Still, he got this job because of his skill of passing through any kind of trouble, thanks to his ‘bullshit artistry’.  

Despite having quite opposite personalities, the two men were able to form a bond that overwhelms the audience heart with warmth. Dr. Shirley deliberately took on this journey to the hostile part of the country because it takes courage, as his band member said ‘to change people’s hearts’. 
Going through the difficult times together, both understood each other‘s struggles and form a friendship that will illuminate until their death.  

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However, this film has received criticisms for various reasons. It has been the center of controversy since its release. The filmmakers didn’t contact the family of the Shirley for any information and the family said that the portrait of the artist as depicted in this film is false. Shirley’s cousin said that the film is once again the depiction of a white man’s version of a black man’s life. 

 Critics accused this film of having racial cliches and hinting to have found the solution or rather ended the racial prejudices. People are even discussing the credibility of a white filmmaker to make films on black people.  

The son of Vallelonga addressed the controversy and said, ‘If you’re discussing the Don Shirley family thing, that falls on me; but Don Shirley himself told me not to speak to anyone.’ He told the journalists that the pianist insisted, ‘If you are going to tell the story, you tell it from your father, me. No one else.’ 

Despite the disputes, the film scored the top prize at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and at People’s Choice. The director, Peter Farrelly said at the acceptance speech, ‘the whole story is about love. It’s about loving each other despite our differences.’ 

Battle Royale

No matter how far, run for all you’re worth. Run!
There will be only one survivor. You have to kill your 41 classmates to be that lucky one. There is no other way out but to be in a battle with your friends and companions. There is no option of giving up- kill or die. There is a constant fear lurking over you. You are caught up in an explosive collar that will finish you the moment you try to get rid of it. And there is a time limit- 3 days. You are the winner or you’ll die.
Kitano: So today’s lesson is, you kill each other off till there’s only one left. Nothing’s against the rules.
This classic movie manifests the violence and bloodshed it suggests. In the time roll of 2 hours, one sees the rapid unfolding of the plot and crazy killings by some 15-year old teenagers. Their class is chosen randomly to participate in this game according to the Millenium Education Reform Act. They are brought to a remote island and given a map, food, and various weapon. There is an initial resistance by these innocuous students but when they saw Kitano, their former teacher hitting them off with unbelievable comfort, the reality struck and it became clear that opting out is not a choice. Indeed they have no choice. Kyouichi Motobuchi: If I survive, can I go home? Teacher Kitano: Yes, but only if everyone else is dead. Some of them succumbed to suicide while others were determined to save themselves and resolved to kill nobody. These students go through the labyrinth of their conscience to sort out their future actions. But some friends are quickly turned into enemies and their violence was devastating. It’s surprising to see these school-uniformed girls ripping and slitting their friends with such ease and conviction. Despite these struggles and obstacles, some friendships persisted.
Shougo Kawada: Meeting you guys, I finally solved the riddle of Keiko’s smile.
Noriko Nakagawa: What’s the answer?
Shougo Kawada: Her parting words — Thank you — and then…
Shuya: And then?
Shuya: Kawada!
Noriko Nakagawa: Kawada!
Shougo Kawada: And then — I’m glad I found true friends.
It is interesting to note how Kenji Fukasaku at the ripe age of 70 brilliantly portrayed the youth and the sentiments they experience when dumped into the horrifying situation. Undoubtedly, this movie is considered a masterpiece and an all-time favorite of Quentin Tarantino’s who says,’ If there is any movie that has been made since I’ve been making movies that I wish I had made is Battle Royale’.