Behind the Movement review: Learn the true story of Rosa Parks, E.D. Nixon and more

Photo credit: Behind the Movement/TV One via MPRM Communications
Photo credit: Behind the Movement/TV One via MPRM Communications /

Most people know of Rosa Parks and the day she refused to step off the bus. Behind the Movement goes into far more any history lesson will teach you in 90 minutes.

Most American history lessons discuss on moment in the 1950s, but usually only to scratch the surface. Rosa Parks is a name many know, but they don’t know the full details. In fact, some of the more prominent figures in the Montgomery bus boycott have been forgotten in time. Behind the Movement may start with Parks’ moment on the bus, but it continues past that.

A story of a group of people coming together

While the initial move starts slow, it’s the necessary buildup for the movement. There’s a chance to see Parks (Meta Golding) as a woman; the seamstress she was before the movement began. This is a chance to understand more about the why she chose that fateful day as her moment not to stand on the bus. Most people will have heard she was tired, but she wasn’t physically tired. Parks was just tired of the injustice towards the people of color at the time.

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Overall, the movie is more than just one to look at the life of Rosa Parks. It’s a chance to look at everyone who came together to make sure the bus boycott happened; that everyone possible joined in, initially just for one day.

While it’s a biopic about Parks, E.D. Nixon (Isaiah Washington) is one of the main focuses. This is a man forgotten about in history, allowing the movie teach us more than we could ever believe. Throughout the 90 minutes, we get to see how he could build this movement and how Parks’ moment on the bus was the driving force; the catalyst.

Then there’s Jo Ann Robinson (Loretta Devine), who is more than happy to jump in on the action. Without even a word, she starts making phone calls and creates pamphlets to ensure everyone knows about this boycott, without the need of the press. After all, getting the press involved too soon could lead to trouble.

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A look at the true reason for the bus boycott

For 90 minutes, Behind the Movement reminds us of the reason for the bus boycott. While many will now think that it was just for Parks, the movie reminds us that there was something bigger. The NAACP wanted to do this before, but didn’t have the right person. Parks was just the perfect catalyst.

Photo credit: Behind the Movement/TV One via MPRM Communications
Photo credit: Behind the Movement/TV One via MPRM Communications /

While talking to Reverend King (Shaun Clay)—yes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—Nixon makes his intensions clear. This isn’t just about supporting Parks and trying to get her acquitted. It’s about equality, on the buses as both passengers and drivers.  This is a message that has been lost over the years, but is eloquently put across throughout the movie.

The script, written by Katrina O’Gilvie, was perfect. Not only did we learn why this movement began, but how. We heard the passion in the words, gaining an idea of the injustices they’d all faced and the passion they had to finally make a difference. We could feel the gravity of the situation, the fear and anxiety, and the struggles along the way.

Exceptional acting from all involved

The story wouldn’t have been everything it was without the actors. Golding, Washington and Devine embodied their roles perfectly. It was easy to forget that this was a movie and not a documentary with the real players.

After talking with the actors, it was clear that this was more than just a movie for them. All three of the main cast members explained that this was an important message to get out. They wanted to be part of something that would encourage more people to raise their voices and start their own movement. Knowing how terribly timely this movie was, they wanted to make sure they gave the step-by-step process to make voices heard.

And that passion certainly came across in the movies. Some of the most beautiful moments came without sound; without words. It was possible to see the tiredness in Parks on the bus and then the fear and anxiety in the prison cell. Washington’s portrayal of Nixon was believable from his first rush to the phone and clear annoyance at being hung up on. Devine added an element of humor to her character, but kept the strong, force-of-nature personality throughout.

Photo credit: Behind the Movement/TV One via MPRM Communications
Photo credit: Behind the Movement/TV One via MPRM Communications /

We can’t forget about some of the more minor players, either. Clay remained calm and composed in every scene. Never once did you need to hear his words to know how he would react. He showed a quieter side to Reverend King, a younger side that is often forgotten in history.

Then there was Roger Guenveur Smith, who played Parks’ husband, Raymond. Each moment with him on the screen was gold. He managed to show the worry and anxiety for his wife and mother-in-law. While he was fed up of the injustice, his character showed everything everyone else would think at the time: why them? Why did it have to be Rosa? As the reasoning developed, he just wanted her to remain safe and protected. Like so many others, Guenveur Smith was able to show everything through his expressions and mannerisms.

Next: Behind the Movement cast talks the impact of the Rosa Parks biopic today

Behind the Movement is a movie that you will want to watch more than once. Without anything fictional created, it serves as an enjoyable look into the four days it took to develop the Montgomery bus boycott and make sure everyone who mattered (the 70% of bus passengers) knew.

How much did you learn from Behind the Movement? What did you think of the portrayals of the individual characters? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us at @HiddenRemote.