Secret life of Bees Film Critique
In the 2008 drama The Secret Life of Bees this film tales the life of Lily Owens. A 14 year old girl, who is bothered by her mother pass. Lily Owens is a bold fearless little girl that takes you on a journey. She deals with the abuse from her father as well as racism. This takes place in South Carolina in 1964 during the civil rights movement. This film will bring you to tears, while also keeping a smile on your face. The secret life of bees is a heart felt film that captures lots of drama and adventure. In this essay I will discuss the story telling, acting, cinematography,and the impact of society on the film and vice versa.
The story of The Secret Life of Bees started as a novel written by Sue Mink Kid. The story is told through a 14 year old girl named Lily Owens. Lily is searching for answers about her mother’s past. While enduring abuse from her father. One day lily and her caregiver Rosaleen who is an African American woman were going to register Rosaleen to vote when she attacked and beaten by a white man. Rosaleen was arrested and taken to the hospital. For lily that was her last straw she helped Rosalee to escape and they then ran away. Lily and Rosaleen go to a town that holds answers to her mother’s past.
There they meet the Boatwright THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES sisters. They are May, June, and August they were three strong, independent women who sold the best honey in town. August Boatwright takes Lily and Rosaleen in with welcoming arms and she also teaches Lily how to keep bees. In this film the plot is in a non linear form. The plot goes back and forth to the past to tell the story of Lily’ s mother and things that happened when Lily was very young. The story takes place in North Carolina in 1964 during a time when things were very segregated between blacks and whites.
That helped to understand the relationship between Lily’s father T- Ray and her caregiver Rosaleen. There are many conflicts in the film but the main conflict is that Lily must learn the past of her dead mother in order to understand what is, her own life. The conflict is resolved when Lily meets August Boatwright. She worked as Lily’ s mother Deborah caregiver. So August is able to tell her the truth about her mother’s past of what really happened before she passed away. Opposed to the story T-Ray has fabricated due to his own anger. Many of the characters experienced external conflict.
Lily struggles with the fact that she accidently killed her mother when she was 4 years old. Rosaleen has conflict with racism because during the THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES 1960’s that is what African Americans had to deal with. T-Ray struggles with the way his life turned out abusing Deborah, then her leaving him, then she passes away. Now he he treats there daughter the same way. The Boatwright sisters carry the hurt of there sister that passed away and June Boatwright refuses to marry because she wants to be seen as independent woman. The bees in this film symbolize people working together in society.
The beehive is always busy because the bees work together to build their nest. The black virgin Mary statue symbolized the blessed mother, the mother figure they all needed for the guidance, love, and strength. In the film August gives Lily the whale pin that belonged to her mother. The pin was given to her mother by her father. To Lily that means he did know how to love and wasn’t always mean. Last but not least at the end of the film Lily moves into the Boatwright house and she has her own room. She decides that she will not go back with T-ray and she will stay with the sisters.
Lily’s new room symbolized a new beginning for where she would be loved. The irony of the film is very dramatic the film expresses the feelings of many women who are sometimes happy, sad, or mad. I can relate to the characters through THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES the many emotions they display throughout the film. The actors in this film are Dakota Fanning (Lily Owens), Jennifer Hudson (Rosaleen), Queen Latifah (August Boatwright), Alicia Keys (June Boatwright), Sophie Okonedo (May Boatwright), Tristan Wilds (Zach Taylor), Paul Bettany (T-Ray Owen), Nate Parker (Neil), Hilaire Burton(Deborah Owens).
These actors present in this film represent wild cards like Dakota Fanning and Tristan Wilds. Character actors such as Hilaire Burton, Nate Parker, and Paul Bettany and finally Personality actors Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, and Alicia Keys. The actors in this film covey the stories meaning by becoming the characters. They had to act as if they were really in the times of 1964. I think the director attributes a great deal of the characters performance because the director knows exactly how he or she wants the character to be portrayed.
The way the actors are placed and moved around in the settings contribute to understanding the characters and the story because it makes things more clear as into what is going on. For example in the scene where Lily helps Rosaleen to escape from the hospital after she is beaten and arrested. Due to it being 1964 a black women could not just walk around THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES without being questioned about where she is going. Rosaleen and Lily had to hide and sleep in the woods until they made it to there destination. That scene helped to understand what it was like for a black woman during the civil rights movement.
In the scene where August Boatwright is teaching Lily how to bee keep. They are outside with many trees, grass, and dirt. The camera captures the whole scene as Lily and August walk toward the beehives, showing the two in protective gear from head to toe. Then the camera focuses on one character at a time as the speak and then zooming in on the actual beehive. The lighting seems to be natural outdoor daylight or high key lighting. In the scenes that reflected the past the color was black and white. Also in this scene I felt that the shot was both a long and a medium shot. The editing of this film was pretty simple.
A large amount of the transition was a direct cut. In the scene when Lily and Zach go to the movies. Zach is taken away by a group of white guys because he is black and he has his arm around Lily who is a white girl. Once he is grabbed the scene dissolves and we see Lily running to the Boatwright sisters to tell them what happen. In addition to that a day had gone pass where we don’t see Zach, so we assume the worst but he is then found and he has been beaten. This THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES editing implies that Zach had got beaten up however we do actually see that. Dialogue, music, and sound effects are all present in the film.
The dialogue I hear during the film are between all the characters I have previously mentioned. Sound effects were present when T-Ray found Lily at the Boatwright sisters home he was driving fast and came to a sudden stop. I hear screeching of the brakes on his truck and the slamming of the truck door. The music was usually a slow ballad depending on the emotions of the scene. In many scenes there was a narrator and the narrator was the main character Lily Owens. The effects that this has on film are that we know everything Lily is thinking and feeling it helps to understand why she feels certain ways about things.
In The Secret Life of Bees (2008) the directors point of view Is evident. She touches base on child abuse and domestic violence and its effects on a person. As well as racism, suicide, and unconditional love. I have actually saw one other movie by the director Gina Price Bythewood and I must say they are completely different. While they are both drama’s the tone is very different. Love & Basketball (2000) is more of a romantic drama while also involving sports. I don’t think the director THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES uses any non traditional story telling techniques.
I felt that the director was trying to tell that no matter how old you are you still long for that mother figure to guide you and love you and that the truth shall set you free. Overall this film has a huge impact on society as well as societies huge impact on the film. For someone like myself who was not born in the time frame set forth which was 1964. It is sometimes disturbing to watch things associated with racism because what we see in movies aren’t real and not to mention those things arent even half of what really happened to African Americans.
The impact of society on this film is that during these times it was normal for domestic violence to go unnoticed if you were white. The genre of The Secret Life of Bees(2008) is drama. This does not fall into the category of genre film because drama is not listed. Typical elements of a relevant genre can help you understand a film better because it allows you to differentiate between what is what and directs you into the right direction in which the film is going. THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES
In conclusion, I have covered storytelling, acting, cinematography, editing, sound, style and directing, genre, and impact on society and vice versa. In covering all of these topics I now understand films better than ever. As I watch television shows and movies, I find myself noticing things like shots, angles and lighting. The Secret Life of Bees provides the audience with just that. It was very easy to notice the behind the scenes things like, cinematography and editing.