The Secret Life of Bees was a great book and is a very good movie as well. I found it interesting that The Secret Life of Bees was Produced by Will Smith and Jade Pinkett-Smith. Maybe the Will Smith stamp on a film will be the next Oprah’s Book Club. It would be nice to think so.
Set in 1964 in the South at the time of the signing of the Equal Rights Amendment, this is the story of a little white girl who runs away from her slightly crazy father and moves in with a group of slightly crazy black women. But the black women are good crazy, while the father is bad crazy. Well, mostly good crazy.
1964 might as well be 1264 to me, it is a world too far removed from the one I live in. America under Jim Crow is hard for me to understand and always baffling to think about. Our America is based on color as well, the color just happens to be green. A couple of pivotal events in the story take place when the standard issue White Bigots attack black people for no reason. But these are mostly side issues-the Real World takes a back seat to the world of the Honey Farm where they bottle and sell Black Madonna Honey.
The poor little white girl, played by Dakota Fanning, quickly falls in love with the Boatwright sisters August, April, and May. She was already in love with the one person who have ever showed her any kindness, her former housekeeper Rosaleen.
So it is a logical extension when the 14 year old white girl falls in love with the good looking young black man who helps harvest the honey and wants to be a lawyer when he grows up. For me the trouble with this romance has less to do with race and more to do with age. Dakota Fanning looks like a child and this automatically turns her would be boyfriend-who looks very much like a man-into a pedophile. But maybe that’s just me.
There were a lot of good bits in The Secret Life of Bees and I liked the movie, even though Queen Latifah would never have been my choice to play the role of August Boatwright. Maybe Whoopi Goldberg would have been a better fit, but then, Whoopi doesn’t do movies any more, does she? The rest of the cast was brilliant and the costumes and sets and all that jazz were very good. I did laugh and cry-I liked The Secret Life of Bees.
The movie was as true to the book as most films are-it knocked off all the edges and boiled it down to its essence. Sue Monk Kidd is a white woman and the star of the book and the film is the little white girl-not the Civil Rights Movement, White Bigots, Noble Black Women, or Bees and Honey. So it is not surprising the Will Smith, star of Bagger Vance the Magical Negro, would bankroll this project. The Boatwright sisters are paragons of virtue and class-if only the Civil Rights Movement could have turned all Americans-Black, White, and Other- into people just like them, what an interesting world we would live in today.