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Film Review: Green Book (2018) - Racism and Class Struggle of the Protagonists

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

#FilmReview #GreenBook #影評 #綠簿旅友

FILE PHOTO: A Poster of GREEN BOOK (2018). ©Universal Studios
FILE PHOTO: A Poster of GREEN BOOK (2018). ©Universal Studios

This film's core thought and social issues are obviously embodied by the African American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) who educated at USSR and hires a Italian-American bouncer Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) as his driver/ assistant for musical performance tour across the continent of US from the north (N.Y.City) to the south (Birmingham, Alabama) in post war era.

Two social issues are concerned here rather than the lack of literacy of the working class protagonist Tony. One is class relationship of the capitalist class and the working class; the other one is that the African origin and the Caucasian.

The family relationship (loneliness caused by Tony's tour assistant job which has an emotional effect between both Tony and his wife) is something additional to this core social issues concerned in this film.

Among all the locations they travelled, I personally familiar with Louisville, KY where the famous Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) lived as a hometown, KFC also headquartered in that town.

When Toni enjoys KFC fried chickens and throws its born and a coke away from the car window during driving on the town road, we can clearly know his disgusting bad behaviour that makes working class look like a bit unenlightened. It also makes us uncomfortable while seeing the film.

However, the fight scene in the bar at that town is a resemblance to what had happened to Muhammad Ali during his earlier age in Louisville that he was refused from entering a restaurant in that way.

Besides this, the abusive Caucasian police officers falsely flag and arrest Don and Tony at sundown town during car driving on the rainy day. This kind of racist tendency is also a typical everyday scene in the American society.

A capitalist/African American pianist Don teaches illiterate Tony during his job on the tour to help him sending far better written letters to his wife as a sign of Tony's personal development and improvement of his disgusting behaves.

The most tensioned moment of this film is when Don refuses to do the final performance after he gets discriminated by the conservative racist restaurant manager from entering the place for a dinner.

His brave decision to break the deal under such awkward business occasion is nether for the business profit nor reputation but it is for protecting his human dignity.

Remember making a decision is an essence of plotting and the entire story telling to express something important and identifiable for audiences and society in general.

Of course, the film is not a far left class war stuff, it is ordinarily intended to harmonise both racial difference and class conflict with such happy ending. The entire framework of film construction is a typical capitalist one.


Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to the professional film writer Ryota Nakanishi as author and a link to is provided.

This film article is for educational purpose only.

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