Green Book Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Green Book (2018): plot, essence, ending, similar films. “There is little talent. It takes courage to change people”: the meaning of the comedy Green Book.

Country: USA, China

Genre: biography, comedy, drama

Year of production: 2018

Directed by: Peter Farrelly

Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco

tagline: “Inspired by a True Friendship”

Awards and nominations: The film won three Oscars in 2019

Nowadays it is not so easy to find a comedy with meaning, without silly humor and based on real events. But the picture of Peter Farrelly is just that. It does not exaggerate, does not exaggerate anything, and dispenses with the clumsy exaltation of the victims of oppression.

The meaning of the film Green Book, which tells about the friendship of people from different social strata, is still relevant. It says that our society is not tolerant and most people still think stereotypically.

What is the movie about

Brief description of the content of the film “Green Book”. 1960s, New York. Frank Vallelonga, nicknamed Tony Chatterbox, is looking for a new job after closing the nightclub he worked at. Suddenly, the famous African-American pianist Don Shirley becomes interested in him and invites him for an interview. The musician arranges a concert tour of the southern states and is looking for a driver. Tony’s candidacy seems quite acceptable to him.

Viggo MortensenViggo Mortensen played the role of Tony Chatterbox and Mahershala Ali played the role of Don Shirley. Frame from the film.

Having issued a contract, Don and Tony go on a trip. It lies along an unusual route, because Don is black, which means that he must use a special guide called the Green Book. A small book lists all the gas stations, hotels and restaurants in which he is entitled to service.

At first, it is difficult for these completely different people to find a common language, but soon Tony literally falls in love with the musical talent of his employer. A little later, marveling at the discrimination that Don constantly faces, he is imbued with sincere respect for him.

The intelligent musician answers him with sincere sympathy. Seeing how his driver misses his wife and noticing that he’s not good with grammar, Don tactfully offers to help him write letters home. So they gradually get closer, and their relationship becomes not so much business as friendly, and then friendly.

But the world they live in is harsh and cynical. Intolerance to the black color of Don’s skin is shown not only by ordinary people, but also by representatives of the authorities – the police. The behavior of the latter especially infuriates the temperamental Tony.

The finale of the new conflict that broke out on the road is quite dramatic – a hot-tempered Italian beats a boorish policeman, after which he and Don are sent to the police station. A famous musician uses his position for the first time and calls US Attorney General Robert Kennedy, after which they are released from custody.

Ending explanation Green Book

The explanation for the ending is pretty simple. Arriving in Birmingham on Christmas Eve, Don completes the tour, after which the friends return home. On the way they are caught by a heavy snowfall.

Toward the end of the journey, tired, exhausted by the difficult road, Tony literally falls asleep on the go. His boss himself gets behind the wheel and delivers a friend home. Waking up, touched Tony invites Don to visit, but he politely refuses and leaves.

Reunited with his family, Tony takes part in the celebration of Christmas, but everything experienced on the road haunts him – he can not get his amazing boss out of his head. After a while, Don comes to Tony to congratulate him on the holiday. Delighted, he introduces him to his wife, who greets him warmly and thanks him for his help in writing letters.

The meaning of the ending of the film “Green Book” lies on the surface: Don and Tony became friends. Neither the skin color of one of them, nor the social status of the other, nor the wild stereotypes prevailing in society prevented them from truly getting close.

The meaning of the film Green Book

Based on the true story of Don Shirley and Frank Vallelonga, Green Book became one of the most talked about films in the US in 2019. The picture, which raised a heap of modern, topical problems, provoked a wave of criticism. And the most interesting (but not inexplicable) is that Peter Farrelly’s film and the idea underlying it were “hatted” mainly by African Americans. Don Shirley’s relatives, in their emotional analyzes of the Green Book, generally stated that “it was not like that” and caught the director in a lie.

Linda CardelliniLinda Cardellini played the role of Dolores, Tony’s wife. Frame from the film.

According to ordinary viewers who criticize the picture, the problems raised in it are imposed on society by the political agenda. It does not smack of satire, does not rebel, does not make you look at the world differently, does not help the viewer to change and does not make him better. The essence of the film lies on the surface: racism is terrible, segregation is disgusting and unacceptable. However, if the topic of racism is constantly pedaled and mentioned to the place and not to the place, if it is put on the conveyor, its relevance is unwittingly challenged.

The Negro Motorist’s Green Book is an annual guide that was published in the US for 30 years, between 1936 and 1966. The period of publication fell on the era of Jim Crow laws. It was at this time that discrimination against blacks was legalized in American society. This guide allowed African Americans on the road to look for services ready to serve them.

Peter Farrelly’s Green Book is a typical road movie. Two completely different heroes go a long way, learning from each other, gaining new experience. That is, we are talking about a metaphorical path, about the development of personality.

The characters, who literally live in parallel universes, perfectly complement each other. Educated, well-bred, refined and intelligent Don and boorish, simple to the point, but honest Tony created an interesting tandem in which one teaches the other good manners, and the other teaches him the ability to enjoy simple things. Something very similar happened in another film – in the now cult European The Intouchables, in which, by the way, instead of the problem of racism, the issue of migrants came to the fore.

Why was the Green Book not accepted in American society? The fact is that a certain part of the black population did not like the structure of the picture: a white guy solves the problems of a black one. Some hidden meaning was seen in this and notes of discrimination were caught.

Mahershala AliFrame from the film.

As it turned out, Farrelly’s tape revealed one of the truly important problems of American society. The fact is that many African Americans (and they can be understood) find it difficult to look and accept that black and white can make friends in a difficult situation for both.

We are talking about the conflict of modern society in America: whites, as best they can, are trying to repent before blacks “for the years of oppression”, and those who are not ready to understand and forgive, with vengeful pleasure, begin to oppress whites at any opportunity. Black racism at its finest. These problems have developed historically and, unfortunately, they cannot be solved just like that – all this requires a lot of work, a lot of patience, a willingness to listen and hear each other and make concessions.

The most interesting thing is that there is no secret meaning in Farrelly’s film – this long overdue abscess opened up on its own. And the “Green Book” itself is a fairly simple, kind Christmas story. It is about how a good black musician changed a rude Italian American. Here, a simple thought is literally put into the forehead: help others – and with your actions you will create a chain of good events. Someday they will help you too. Another idea “wired” in the Green Book sounds like this: sometimes it is difficult for people to step over themselves and only acquaintance and friendship with someone completely opposite helps them to change.

In this picture, the white man becomes even whiter: Tony, under the influence of his black boss and friend, changes exclusively for the better. That is, this movie is about the problem not so much of African Americans as of the white population. The “Green Book” seems to be shouting: respect yourself, be educated, learn to earn money with dignity, do not be a “black man”. Unlike “Driving for Mrs. Daisy,” this is not a movie about the relationship of people belonging to different races: Tony is not racist at all, but his own ignorance.

Perhaps this is the main charm of the film. It is not at all about the need to cry and repent, and not in order to stand in a pose and be offended. It’s about constantly learning and trying to get better.

evening at the barFrame from the film.

Similar films

Here are a few more films similar in meaning to the Green Book:

  • The Intouchables (France, 2011). Driss is a black unemployed man recently released from prison, Philip is a wealthy aristocrat who hired a guy as a nurse. They have nothing in common, but still they became friends.
  • The Help (USA, 2011). American South, 1960s. A young white journalist and her two black friends challenge a racist society.
  • Hidden Figures (USA, 2016). Several women of African American descent stand up to racial and gender discrimination.

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