One of the intriguing aspects of “
On the one hand, of course, it’s about a man (
So is it a story of the civil rights struggle or a universal take on parent-child strife?
Both, says writer
The Emmy winner said he certainly wasn't averse to creating a story about the milieu of the White House, and what the men there did (and didn't) do in the battle for equality. "It's about men with a lot of power as viewed by a man who's powerless," he said of the White House-butler conceit.
But Strong also sees the civil rights struggle as a tool of sorts, a prism through which to illuminate generational differences. In that respect, it could be about any father and son who feel strongly about following a way of life — and even feel strongly that the others should follow their way of life too.
"As I was grappling with how to compress so much history into one movie, I realized what the movie really was was a story of a father and a son," Strong said. "It's the story of a man who thought he could make a better life for his family, and his son who said he needed to do it a different way."
Strong is no stranger to making these political tales personal: He found the complex human relationships in big-canvas stories like HBO’s “Recount,” about the 2000 presidential election, as well as in the network’s “Game Change,” about
As with the subjects of those films, history has shaded our understanding and made us see events with a fresh clarity. After all, it was Louis' activism that proved both right and fruitful.
But Strong said one of his goals with this movie was to remove viewers 20/20 hindsight and put them in the position of the people going through these battles.
"In retrospect, what Louis and his friends were doing was heroic," Strong said. "But at the time there were people, good people like Cecil, who said 'don't do that' because they were afraid you could get yourself killed. And some did."
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