Movie Review: the Secret Life of Bees Essay

From one of the best-selling novels by Sue Monk Kid and receiving multiple awards, “The Secret Life of Bees” is full of fright and grief turning into a heart-warming, tear jerking film. You will go on a journey with Lily facing child abuse, racism, suicide, and life threating situations. She is one courageous little girl who won’t stop until she finds the truth. From the opening credits to the last scene every tear and terror is worth it. The final scene will leave you with a feeling of satisfaction and comfort. “The Secret Life of Bees” is full of drama, action, and adventure.

It was written and directed by Gina Prince and filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina. It came out in theaters October 17, 2008. The cast is full of phenomenally talented and experienced actors. The leading role, fourteen your old Lily, is played by actress Dakota Fanning who has played in many movie since she was a baby. Dakota won Best Performance by a Youth-Female in 2008. Jennifer Hudson plays Rosaleen, Lily’s black caretaker. Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, and Sophie Okendo play as the three Boatwright sisters who kindly take Lily and Rosaleen in after running away from Lily’s abusive Father, T. Ray played by Paul Bettany.

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This movie was also awarded Best Female Images in a Movie in 2008 in the Women’s Film Critic Circle. Set in 1964 in South Carolina, Lily has a hard and troubled life. She is tormented of the memories of her mother’s death. She blames herself and can’t seem to let it go. She doesn’t know much about her mother, except the bad things T. Ray, her father, tells her. To escape her emotionally distant and abusive father, Lily flees to Rosaleen, Lily’s housekeeper and friend, and they run away together. Lily has a picture from her mother’s belongings which leads her to a small town in South Carolina that holds the secrets to her mother’s past.

The three intelligent Boatwright sisters, August, May, and June, invite Lily and Rosaleen to stay with them temporarily. For the first time ever, Lily experiences life with a real, loving, caring family making honey and being a part of each other’s lives. Lily finds peace in the fascinating world of beekeeping, until T. Ray finds her. His final decision will determine her future. The “Secret Life of Bees” portrays a whole other side to the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960’s. No, it doesn’t show cruelty from the white the entire movie. That’s the good thing about it. This movie shows the other side of black life.

Black southerners had to live with constant fear of violence from the whites but they still had lives too. They had jobs, loving families, and tried to maintain their humanity. In this movie black women are portrayed as independent, powerful women just living their lives. Usually a white character is the hero. In contrast to other movies Lily, the white character, is saved by the black women. This movie could also be connected with “The Help”. They both have examples of black women being the heroes. The music in the film flowed and was right on point with the setting and mood.

This movie was set in the 1960’s and that was established with the type of music. The music of this period was all about jazz and blues. Some songs included “Baby I Need Your Loving” (1964) and “Breakaway” (1964). There were also older songs played. The music matched the mood. Whenever it was a sad scene they were slow, sad songs. When there was a happy scene, upbeat songs were played. The cinematography takes the viewer’s back to a time where material things were the same but there were different attitudes. It spends the a little time explaining the process of beekeeping and honey making that holds a certain fascination.

Obviously, there is a symbolic meaning to the title “The Secret Life of Bees”. It’s not only what happens in the colony but it has more of a universal meaning. Bees are an important symbol in the film. The lives of the bees represent the lives of the Boatwright sisters in their house. Bees live and work to produce honey. The female dominates and the queen rules over everything. She is the mother to all bees. In the Boatwright home, the black Virgin Mary is the mother of all women close to her. Also, Bees have many defense mechanisms to protect their home.

August and her family do the same. They perform certain rituals like praying, celebrating and mourning to protect their home and keep them healthy. When something bad happens, the rituals and mechanisms become important to both bees and the Boatwrights’ to keep the home functioning. This film is a must-see! Follow Lily through her journey as she discovers the secrets to her mother’s past. It’s full of trouble and heartache but all the love and compassion makes up for that. “The Secret Life of Bees” is a beautiful message, a touching story, and a wonderful movie.

Sources

Scott, A. O. “A Golden Dollop of Motherly Comfort.” In Adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s Novel. Nytimes.com, 16 Oct. 2008. Web. 26 Oct. 2012. “The Secret Life of Bees.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2012. “The Secret Life of Bees (2008).” The Secret Life of Bees. Flixter.com, n.d. Web.

26 Oct. 2012.