Green Book

Green Book Study Guide

Green Book is a 2018 American comedy-drama directed and co-written by Peter Farrelly. It is an American story about the Italian-American driver/bouncer for a Jamaican-American black pianist named Don Shirley, who toured the Deep South in 1962. The film is based on a true story, and the script took its lead from a book written by the driver's son as well as a famous guidebook called The Negro Motorist Green Book, which helped black Americans find lodging and food throughout the country during a time of racial segregation.

The film stars Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen in the lead roles and received mostly good reviews. At a screening of the film, Quincy Jones, who knew the real Don Shirley personally, praised Mahershala Ali's performance and the film more generally. It was nominated for five Academy Awards.

In spite of the perceived success of the film, it was also a controversial release. Some viewers criticized its depiction of a "white savior" narrative, in which a black man's humanity is only brought into relief through the recognition of the white protagonist. Additionally, Don Shirley's family did not approve of the film, complaining that it misrepresented their relationship with him as well as Shirley's relationship to Vallelonga. Don Shirley's brother was quoted as saying, "My brother never considered Tony to be his 'friend'; he was an employee, his chauffeur (who resented wearing a uniform and cap). This is why context and nuance are so important. The fact that a successful, well-to-do black artist would employ domestics that did NOT look like him, should not be lost in translation."