In honor of the women who raise us from birth, guide us in the right direction and love us unconditionally, we salute moms with our Five Favorite Mother’s Day films.
Diahann Carroll received an Oscar nomination as a single mother raising six children in the projects of Harlem. What little money she earns comes directly from a rich family for whom she keeps house. Struggling to make ends meet, she resorts to welfare. Claudine works to keep her dignity in the face of the humiliating hoops the welfare system–a system created precisely for women like her–forces her to jump through. She finds grace and romance in a pleasant garbage collector (James Earl Jones). Falling in love, the two work together to fight societal hypocrisy and to keep Claudine’s family unit afloat. This “snapshot” film was a rarity at the time of it’s release featuring not only a film centered around a woman, but an African-American one at that. Who can forget how Jones ran Claudine’s bath water and used dish washing liquid for bubble bath? They don’t make ’em like this anymore!
Click the image above to watch the first ten minutes of the film.
A Raisin in the Sun (1961)
A powerful and strong mother holds her family together in a Chicago tenement in early 1960s in Lorraine Hansberry award-winning play, “A Raisin in the Sun.” Claudia McNeal plays the matriarch of the Younger family who trusts her restless, yet ambitious son, Walter (Sidney Poitier) with the family’s savings only to watch him nearly lose it all. Whether smacking the spirit of the Lord into her daughter Beneatha (the late great Diana Sands) or preaching about the merits of unconditional love and support, she is the film’s heart and soul and gives a career performance.
“”Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most, when he’s done good and made everything easy for everybody. Oh no, no, that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and he can’t believe in himself cause the world done whipped him so. When you start measuring somebody child, measure him right, measure him right. You make sure you’ve taken into account the hills and the valleys he’s come through to get to wherever he is.”
Click the image above to watch an extended clip of the film.
The Namesake (2007)
A young Indian couple struggle to hold on to their culture and tradition as they try to raise a family in America. The film tells the story of the Ganguli family whose move from Calcutta to New York evokes a lifelong balancing act to meld to a new world without forgetting the old. Though parents Ashoke and Ashima (Irfan Khan, Tabu) long for the family and culture that enveloped them in India, they take great pride in the opportunities their sacrifices have afforded their children. Paradoxically, their son Gogol (Kal Penn) is torn between finding his own unique identity without losing his heritage. Even Gogol’s name represents the family’s journey into the unknown. Gradually over time, Ashima develops more and more independence forcing her to find strength in herself so that she can face her greatest challenges. A beautiful tale of family, love and loss and Tabu’s performance is very stirring!
Click the image above to watch the film’s trailer.
Imitation of Life (1959)
My father, Warner Edward Gordon’s absolutely favorite film and one of mine as well tells the story of a proud mother raising a child who is passing for white and wants nothing to do with her Black heritage or mother. While her mother tries to honor her daughter’s request, her unconditional love and support brings tears to our eyes now as they did when we watched this tragic and sad tale as a child. The film’s final scene, featuring the great Mahalia Jackson passionatly singing “Trouble Over the World, when the daughter realizes too late to tell her mother she loves her will be hard to experience over your tears! Truly a memorable and unforgettable film.
Click the image above to watch a clip of the film.
Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Here is one movie that is GUARANTEED to bring tears to my eyes, Stephen Spielberg’s collaboration with the late Stanley Kubrick, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.” The film tells the story of a future when man will create robots that can love. When a young family’s son is supposed dead, they adopt a robot child to take his place only to discard him once their real son recovers. Unfortunately for the robot child, David, his love for his mother is permanently imprinted into his DNA and he forever yearns to become a “real” boy hoping to win her love. Over the tender and haunting score of John Williams, David’s love for his mother is truly everlasting. A truly beautiful movie!
Click the image above to watch the ending of the film.