Postechian’s Pick: Green Book
Postechian’s Pick: Green Book
  • Reporter Kim Yu-jin
  • 승인 2024.02.29 11:22
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▲Green Book (2018)
▲Green Book (2018)




  Based on a true story, this movie takes place in the U.S. in the 1960s. Italian American Tony Vallelonga is a man with a firm stereotype about African American people. So, when the club he worked for went under renovation and he was offered a job as an African American pianist’s driver, he was reluctant. The renowned pianist, Dr. Don Shirley was looking for a driver for the eight-week concert tour throughout the Midwest and the Deep South, where people were still hostile to “people of color”. But Dr. Don Shirley offered Tony a large sum of money that Tony could not refuse, and the two set out for the tour. Before departing, Dr. Shirley’s record agency gives Tony The Negro Motorist Green Book, which contains information on motels and restaurants that are not hostile towards Black people. This is where the title of the movie, Green Book, comes from. 

  At first, Tony is far from respectful towards Dr. Shirley, and Dr. Shirley does not approve of Tony’s boisterous habits. It seemed as if they would never get along. But as the tour progresses, Tony is impressed by the pianist’s amazing talent and at the same time, is appalled by the contradicting treatment Dr. Shirley receives when he is below the stage. Slowly but surely, Tony begins to acknowledge the discrimination surrounding African Americans. The two go through many events, often unpleasant, and become closer as they open up and get to know each other’s story. The movie ends as the two returns to New York in time for Christmas and enjoy the holiday together, as friends.



  At first look, this movie might seem like it is focusing solely on severe racism in the 60s. But the more I dwelled on this movie, more meaning I found. This movie not only talks about discrimination but also people’s desire to belong. The scene where Dr. Shirley talks about how hard he worked to maintain the image of the elegant and refined pianist, another scene where he encounters others who are similar to him in looks but are living completely different lives, and finally, when Dr. Shirley poured out to Tony saying “So if I'm not black enough and if I'm not white enough and if I’m not man enough, then tell me, Tony, what am I?”. These scenes are good examples of this side of the movie.

  Being a homosexual African American with a profession dominated mostly by “white people” at that time, we can feel Dr. Shirley’s frustration from not being able to completely identify as ‘someone’. He is not welcomed in his black heritage, nor is he admitted completely into his profession owing to race. On top of all that, he is also judged by his sexuality. I think this is something that we often feel these days, as the world becomes more complicated. Ironically, because our society is becoming more and more open toward an individual’s identity, it is getting harder to feel that sense of belonging and the security it gives us. The thought that no one might ever understand or feel the same way is scary.

  Maybe what we need the most right now is to admit that no one can truly understand anyone: that the sense of belonging we crave is in fact an illusion, and no one can really belong anywhere. What we can do, however, is learn and embrace the difference. Do not try to understand - because you never might. Embrace and recognize people for just the way they are. Forcing other people into your frame of understanding never helps. I do not think that Tony and Dr. Shirley became friends because they finally understood each other; rather they embraced each other’s differences.