First, before we get this bit of news, we’ll just address “The Help” for a moment. There have been quiet a few bloggers/writers/critics this week decrying the movie for being “racist” and frankly, that’s the laziest most reactionary term you could throw at “The Help” or any movie really. It’s a term that is so loaded that in this context is almost meaningless, but it’s great way for a bunch of people to furrow their brows and pretend to be concerned while the rest of the year they easily overlook far more egregious depictions of race (or lack thereof) in mainstream films. Yes, “The Help” has its issues, but “racist”? Give it a rest.
Anyway, that’s a long way of saying that Viola Davis, star of “The Help” — who gives an Oscar worthy performance by the way — and who also turned heads with her stirring turn in “Doubt,” is ready to start putting on her producer’s hat. EW reports that the actress is picking up the rights to Ann Weisgarber’s 2008 book “The Personal History of Rachel DuPree” and it has the potential to be a powerful tale.
The story follows the titular Rachel, who falls for the son of a boardinghouse owner who agrees to marry her on one condition: she must give up her 160 acres from the Homestead Act so he can double his spread. Fast forward to 1917 and living with her husband on a ranch in the west — as one of the few black families in the area — a pregnant Rachel struggles to keep her family fed while her proud husband refuses to move from the land, which is a source of a pride, to better care for her and her children.
While nothing is finalized just yet, Davis has been a fan of the book for ages, with a testomonial on the author’s website saying, “’The Personal History of Rachel DuPree’ is a John Ford movie…with black people! It’s spectacular! Really great! I can’t put it down. I’ve never read anything like it!” So let’s hope this all comes together, because a western driven by black characters? Yep, that could be awesome.