The Loving Story
In 1958, the sheriff of a small town in Virginia entered the bedroom of newlyweds Richard and Mildred Loving. He arrested them for the crime of "miscegenation" or mixing of the races; Richard was white and Mildred was "colored". Rather than jail time, the couple was forced to leave the state, but Mildred longed to go back home.
"Marriage is a fundamental right of liberty," two young lawyers contested before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 on behalf of the Lovings. The court’s precedent-setting decision would result in 16 states being ordered to overturn their bans on interracial marriage.
"The Loving Story" isn’t a documentary about Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King. The Lovings weren’t revolutionaries or even very aware the civil rights movement. They were plain folks who wanted to be married and live in Virginia. But magically, the film takes an unappealing central character and creates a love story. Richard looks terrified at the camera in his interviews. His lawyer describes him as "suspicious" and "a redneck," but seeing him through Mildred’s eyes, he becomes endearing.
Lyrical moments of Direct Cinema, in gorgeous 16mm footage, whisk us to a provincial America that’s almost unreal. (There’s a wood-burning stove in the living room.) For example, we observe, uninterrupted, as Mildred dresses her daughter for school. Crisp black and white film contrasts the blond girl against her dark-haired mother. Mildred discretely hides a hole in her daughter’s stocking before she buckles the girl’s shoes. And Richard, who has nothing to say as he leaves the Federal District Courthouse, discretely clings to his wife’s hand.
"The Loving Story" doesn’t make political statements or draw parallels between marriage equality then and now. Its rhetoric is far more effective: to show humanity as it is and let us draw our own conclusions.
The Loving Story (2011)