Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in ‘Loving’ (Evening Standard)
What a difference a year makes.
Last year, the conversation around movies in Hollywood centered around the fact that there was no diversity. #OscarsSoWhite gained prominence during the national conversation. It seems the entertainment industry listened, because movies with diverse casts and themes will be released. Even better, a couple of movies will tell stories from history that need to be more widely known than they are.
The story of Virginia couple Mildred and Richard Loving are featured in Jeff Nichols’ Loving. Mildred, a Black woman (played by Ruth Negga), and Richard (Joel Edgerton), a white man, were arrested in 1958 for the crime of being married when interracial marriage was a crime. The Lovings’ ordeal to have their union be legally recognized led to the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case in 1967. The ruling struck down every anti-miscegenation law still on the books in 16 Southern states. (At least in theory; several states still tried to unofficially enforce the law.)
Too few people know this story, and I’m glad it’s gaining more recognition. The case is seen as a landmark in the struggle for civil rights, and can be regarded as the spiritual predecessor to the recent marriage equality fight and decision.
Loving isn’t the only historic interracial love story debuting this winter. Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom focuses on the story of Sir Seretse Khama (played by David Oyelowo), a member of the Bechuanaland Protectorate’s royal family, and Ruth Williams (played by Rosamund Pike), an English woman and Khama’s eventual wife. The Khamas’ romance and eventual marriage set off an international scandal which took years to rectify.
Director Asante’s previous feature was Belle, the true story of a mixed-race English woman in the 18th century. I enjoyed it, particularly because it was something I hadn’t seen before: a woman of color in a period costume drama. Asante won my attention and my dollars with that film, so I’m curious to see her new one as well.
Loving will be released on Nov. 4th, and A United Kingdom will be released Jan. 17, 2017.