It’s one thing to embellish is another thing to revise history! Before you go to see this movie (if you do), please remember it was “based on a true story”. The only truth was that a black man worked in the White House for 40+ years. The rest was dramatic and political fiction.
But how much of the film is fact vs. fiction? When Hollywood uses the term “based on a true story,” you should know that the loaded word “based” means that they can add and subtract nearly anything they want.
Here are a few facts about the film that you might want to share with your friends. It turns out that many of the most central parts of the story didn’t actually happen.
- Much of the portrayal of Allen’s early life is about as truthful as the story about Columbus discovering America. In the film, the butler starts off picking cotton, watching his mother get raped and his father murdered. None of that happened. Allen was born in Virginia and never spoke of any of these horrible things happening to him. Oh yea, the scene where he’s caught stealing food and lands his first job because of it? That’s all made up too, never happened.
- In the film, the butler’s wife (played by Oprah Winfrey) is an alcoholic and cheated on her husband. Didn’t happen. His wife was a lovely woman. Also, remember the film’s torturous scene where the butler’s son dies in the Vietnam War? He actually didn’t die. He’s still alive and well.
- Remember that militant son who served as a Black Panther and Freedom Rider, who was put in his place during the film? He never existed. Allen only has one son. We don’t know why they made up this person and put him in the film. You can speculate on that one on your own.
- The scene when the butler was serving President Eisenhower on his first day at work, while the president just happened to be integrating black students into the schools in Little Rock? That wasn’t his real first day. Allen started working at the White House during the Truman Administration. But he did work for Eisenhower, it just wasn’t his first day on the job.
- The butler didn’t really wear Kennedy’s tie when he met Barack Obama. He had it framed. But he did meet President Obama, had a great career in the White House and lived a remarkable life. But Hollywood seems to have taken the story and embellished it to the point that it can’t, in any way, be seen as historically accurate. At best, it’s a great tale that is, well, based on a true story.