“Aretha Franklin loved black people. Like me. I wanted to make sure that people of color felt loved in this movie the way it is shot; we try to give the characters time and space to live their life, breathe and unfold. We’ve been listening to whites telling us who we are for too long, and this was our chance to define ourselves. That authenticity is reflected in every shot of the film. “
This is how it presents Liesl Tommy, the director of ‘Respect’, his first film, which captures the life of one of the great idols of the black community and one of the great voices of soul, Aretha Franklin (1942-2018). The movie, which is starring Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker, will have its premiere in Spain next Friday, September 24.
According to the official argument, “following the meteoric career of the incomparable Aretha Franklin, ‘Respect’ chronicles the extraordinary journey of this music icon in search of his own voice: from starting in his father’s church choir to becoming an international superstar. “
The film, of almost two and a half hours, focuses mainly on the most unknown period of the singer’s life and wants to capture the entire process of how she became one of the greatest artists and influential on the planet.
“I kept repeating to myself is that I wanted to tell the story of a woman who has the best voice in the world and yet cannot find her own voice. And that’s what I wanted to convey to the world and what ended up being the center of the film, “explains Tommy, who was personally chosen by Franklin to direct his ‘biopic’.
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Regarding the cast, It seems that there was no one more appropriate than Jennifer Hudson, who claims to be the world’s biggest fan of Aretha Franklin. The star never wanted anyone to open for her, until Hudson became known on ‘American Idol’ and, after being eliminated, the great Queen of Soul agreed to let Hudson be her opening act. “It was like a dream come true, like the rest of the many moments that I shared with her. Now especially, I find that she has been an incredible guide to the structure and spirit of my entire career,” he says.
Sabrina Garret Owens, Aretha’s niece is also happy with Hudson’s choice: “It has to do with the similarities between the two, Aretha and Jennifer. They both grew up in the church. They both had the sound of gospel in their voice. Jennifer has a long record, as does Aretha. I see many things in common between the style of both “, declares.
Owens has nothing but good words for his aunt and the film adaptation: “Aretha lived an extraordinary life and sang for almost 50 years. We are all perfectly aware that your story cannot be told in two or two and a quarter hours. Therefore, the best option is to focus on a specific time and capture moments from it.
“They were very important years, because in the sixties and seventies she was riding high, and this captures precisely that period. It is one of the most dramatic periods of his life, when the film can be entertaining and capture the interest of the viewer. The truth is that they have chosen a very good period, “he concludes.
Who was Aretha Franklin?
They call her the Queen of Soul and who can dethrone her has not yet been born. His iconic voice is one of the most powerful in history and with it he sang hits that we all know as ‘(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman’, ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ (Do you remember the scene from ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding’?) Or ‘Think’ and, of course, ‘Respect’.
All these songs helped define the Black Power, the Black Civil Rights Movement and the Movement for Women’s Rights and, sixty years later, they continue to be iconic themes in our culture and involve other currents such as the Black Lives Matter.
Soul inherits the pain of black slavery, but also the hope of its later growth from its middle class, and it is also peppered with tavern, gospel, blues, jazz, doo-woop and protest music. Aretha Franklin fits her with her voice, her strength, and her optimism to deliver a message of liberation to African Americans and women from the supremacy of the white man.
Franklin was lucky to grow up in a Detroit home where the importance of social protest, racial justice and the organization of the community, centered basically in the foundations of the black church: faith, service and self-improvement. We can see all this in the movie ‘Respect’.
Next September 24th, an appointment at the cinema awaits us to let ourselves be surprised (and enlightened) by one of the great voices of soul music. Aretha Franklin left us, among others, a powerful message valid for any of us: “Be your own artist, and always be sure of what you do. If you are not going to feel safe, you better not do it.”
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