November 13, 2016: Loving is the rare mainstream movie that is the period drama of the 60s. The movie is based on the life of two people who ended up being the center of one of the most important cases of Supreme Court in the history of America.
Jeff Nichols, the director of the movie Loving, said that the story is about a mixed race couple Richard and Mildred Loving. The couple was arrested in Caroline County, Virginia in 1958. Little did they know that a decade later, their case will lead to the abolition of miscegenation law.
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Richard and Mildred got married in the Nation’s capital. But their union was considered illegal under the racial Integrity Act of Virginia, where they lived. They were arrested, accused and found guilty. The couple had to leave Virginia or face prison. In 1958, they moved to Washington D.C., away from friends and family.
Five years later, in 1963, inspired by the civil rights movement, Mildred wrote to US Attorney General Robert Kennedy asking for help. She was then contacted by the Washington chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Filmmaker Jeff Nichols relied on historical footage and an in-depth documentary about the couple. But the film’s power lies in the way Nichols portrays the deep love between two people whose only desire is to live a life together.
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In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled in their favor. Loving versus Virginia became a landmark case that overturned anti-miscegenation laws around the country.
At the recently inaugurated African-American museum in Washington DC, Jeff Nichols spoke to VOA about the Oscar buzz his film is generating. He said, “It is flattering and humbling, but what’s important here is the story we are trying to tell. Richard and Mildred story. I didn’t know about it in 2012, when I first heard about it and that’s shameful. This is a fundamental part of our American history.”
He added, “More than ever, this idea of racial equality and equal justice and equal protection under the law, which is at the heart of the 14th Amendment and at the heart of what this court case was about, it’s more relevant in the present than ever.”
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Actress Ruth Negga pours her heart into the character of Mildred. Her soulful performance has earned her a claim. She told VOA what inspired her to play the reluctant activist was her admiration for her character’s immense courage. She said, “How do we find out who we are really? And usually it’s when we are in peril or when we are forced to find out who we are. That’s when I think our true colors show and that’s when we discover our grit and our integrity.”
Asked if a film such as loving could speak to wide audiences in America’s current climate of political polarization, Joel Edgerton, who plays Richard in Loving, told VOA, “We keep running into the same problem that will always be there. So, it’s always going to have new stories and sometimes gentle stories that allow to take a walk, an empathetic walk into someone else’s shoes and I think it’s a very special film that will resonate.”
– Prepared by Diksha Arya of NewsGram. Twitter: @diksha_arya53