In the course of the summer cinema in the first, the Oscar winner ‘Green Book – A Special Friendship’ celebrates its free TV premiere in the first.
A duo that is as unequal as possible in a situation that is as tricky as possible – the simple recipe for a tasty buddy comedy is ready. Oscar surprise ‘Green Book – A Special Friendship’ by director Peter Farrelly (64, ‘King Pin’) adds ingredients such as social criticism, drama and two outstanding actors to this base and tastes the whole thing with a decent, but not excessive, pinch Kitsch off. The reward: the Oscar in the king’s category ‘Best Film’ in 2018. However, numerous critics – such as director Spike – raised their voices against the strip, which celebrates its free TV premiere on July 19 in the course of the summer cinema in Erste Lee (64).
‘Green Book’ is based on a true story
The Italian-American Tony Vallelonga alias Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen, 62) comes from a poor background and has lived in the Bronx his entire life. His tendency to let his fists speak quickly and with pleasure has already cost him many jobs, to the annoyance of his wife Dolores (Linda Cardellini, 45) – but that is precisely why he is getting a particularly lucrative one: the African-American musician Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali, 47 ) is planning a trip to the south of the USA. In 1962, this was not a safe undertaking.
Half as a chauffeur, half as a bodyguard, Shirley therefore hires the uneducated, casual crook, who himself has his dear problems with racist prejudice. If the unequal characters separate even deeper suspicion of each other at the beginning of the journey, they learn to appreciate each other more and more in the course of their trip. Because of all things the increasingly violent racism that hits them, welds them closer together.
Friendship knows no level of education
One is a highly educated musical genius, the other a bon vivant with a stomach as big as his educational gaps, proudly boasting of himself as a ‘shit talker’. When such different types of people and cultures meet in such a narrow cinematic space as a car, it inevitably offers interesting situations and dialogues. Without any ifs and buts, it is these interactions between Ali and Mortensen that have earned the film a total of five Oscar nominations.
But first of all: The film romanticizes the unusual friendship between Don Shirley and Tony Lip, which is not least due to the fact that his son Nick Vallelonga was involved in the script. The Shirley family, on the other hand, is said not to have turned green at all with a ‘Green Book’ and accused the makers of a lack of accuracy. And filmmaker Spike Lee made of his contempt for the film , which comes exclusively from white producers, no secret at all.
With ‘Green Book’ the eternal crucial question arises: How much artistic freedom are you as a viewer willing to look at the filmmakers? As with the 2018 Oscar competitor ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, everyone has to decide for themselves. Although the ‘Green Book’ is likely to be easier to indulge in, it ultimately tells a much lesser-known story.
Who is the main actor and who is the supporting actor?
The title of the film refers to the so-called ‘Negro Motorist Green Book’ of the time. The travel guide listed all the hotels, restaurants and petrol stations where African American people were served or accommodated. This is perhaps where the film tells its strongest message:
The well-heeled Don Shirley didn’t have to do this gauntlet run through the south. He consciously took the risk and the pain to cause a rethink. First and foremost, ‘Green Book’ is his story, told from the perspective of the cordial and uncouth companion Tony Lip. The character who throws two glasses in the trash at the beginning of the film because black craftsmen drank from them.
How quickly the change from a money-hungry racist to a loyal friend for life takes place is sometimes unbelievable and extremely kitschy. ‘Green Book’ manages one outstanding thing nonetheless: At every second of the film (and if you don’t know the true outcome of the story) you catch yourself thinking: ‘Hopefully nothing will happen to either of them!’
With this perspective Mortensen takes up more space in the film. But while he went empty-handed in the ‘Best Actor’ category at the Oscars, Ali triumphed in the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ category. It is his second Oscar after winning 2017 for his supporting role in ‘Moonlight’. The fact that Ali was ‘only’ nominated as a supporting actor, while Mortensen was allowed to hope for an Oscar as a leading actor, met with criticism in many places. Ali’s dismemberment as a result of being discriminated against both because of his skin color and because of his level of education and feeling completely alone deserves the highest recognition. Just like the dignity with which he endures even the most infamous insults.
Life writes the most beautiful scripts
Of course, the real story of Don Shirley and Tony Vallelonga’s trip to the south has also received its Hollywood make-up. But that doesn’t scratch the monument of the real musician, on the contrary. Sometimes it’s better to romanticize a story than not at all.