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'Butler' gives new perspective

In the midst of the current on-going civil movements in Taiwan, along with the release of various films dealing with slavery, civil rights and freedom, director Lee Daniel presents another film that deals with centuries-old issues of inequality, this time through the perspective of a generation so accustomed to discrimination and oppression that even the smallest of improvements were more than enough, bringing them into conflict with their children.

Though the movie shares a theme with two recent award-winning biopics, “12 Years a Slave” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” “The Butler” takes a different perspective on an otherwise sensitive subject. These films, in their own right, should be inspiration for the various civil moments around the world, particularly here in Taiwan.

The film is inspired by the Washington Post article, entitled “A Butler Well Served by This Election,” written about the life of real-life White House butler Eugene Allen and his wife.

Published shortly after the 2008 U.S. presidential election, the article discusses the values of the older African American generation versus the culture and morals of their children during the period of racial segregation. The film tackles the same issues from the perspective of a character loosely based on Allen.

Set during an era of profound change and revolution, the film is not a biopic that documents the sufferings of an individual or the long battle to equality of an entire race. Rather, it touches more on the generational gap and the miscommunication within every family at a time when institutionalized racism was a major force in the United States.

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A film that explores the meaning of peaceful protests and what it means to partake in more radical action. 'The Butler' is extremely relevant to today's Taiwan.

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