By Emma Brenner
On Jan. 6, the 76th Golden Globes took place with comedy-drama film “Green Book” gathering three accolades. Directed by Peter Farrelly and starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in the lead roles, “Green Book” was an undeniable success.
The film won Best Motion Picture for Musical or Comedy and Best Screenplay for a Motion Picture. Its third award, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, went to Mahershala Ali for his moving portrayal of real-life figure Don Shirley.
A true story of friendship crossing racial and social boundaries of its time inspired the film. In the 1960s, Tony “Lip” Vallelonga, an Italian-American bouncer, got hired as a driver and security guard for pianist Don Shirley’s concert tour in the South. Prejudices of color divided the two men, but what started as reluctant employment turned into a lifelong friendship. With Shirley being black, they encountered adversity in the strongly segregated states, in which Lip acted as Shirley’s protection.
Lip’s son, Nick Vallelonga, contributed to the screenplay, and according to Biography.com, he conducted interviews with Shirley and Lip with the intention of cinematizing their friendship. While relatives of Shirley questioned the movie’s accuracy, Nick claimed to have received the approval of both his father and Shirley, who each died in 2013. Nonetheless, as stated in the Huffington Post, Mahershala Ali personally apologized to Shirley’s family for any misrepresentation of the historical pianist.
Despite the controversies and debates on inaccuracies, the film strived to honestly depict a friendship that lasted both men’s lives. The movie boldly confronts racism against blacks, whites, Italians, Russians and the tensions between urban northerners and plantation-owning southerners. It explored other controversial issues of the 60s, including homosexuality, segregation and police brutality. It was a masterpiece of music, cinematography, acting, writing and story content. Authentic and worthy of its three Golden Globe Awards, “Green Book” is a must-see for anyone searching for a satisfying film on comradery and civil rights.