Precious by
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Prompted By Rewatchable Movies

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In 2010 the Oscar for Best Picture went to The Hurt Locker,  but in my book the award should have gone to one I was glad to watch a second time –  the nominated film Precious.   The film,  based on the young adult novel Push,  starred the amazing Gabourey Sidibe as Precious the abused and obese Harlem teenager.   The talented comedian Mo’Nique deservedly won as Best Supporting Actress for her role as the abusive mother,  and Lee Daniels directed and co-produced the film with Oprah Winfrey.

But in the late 1990s,  years before the film adaptation was made,  the African American poet and writer Sapphire,  who had been a remedial reading teacher- turned novelist when her book Push was published,  came to speak to the students at Jane Addams,  the south Bronx high school where I was then librarian.   Push had been widely translated,  and Sapphire had just returned from a European book tour and told us about a moving experience she had.

In Stockholm the author had been invited to an English-language dramatized reading of her book.   When she arrived at the theatre expecting to see a Black actress in the role of Precious,  she was surprised to see a slim,  petite,  blue-eyed blonde take the stage.  The young woman went on to give a heart-wrenching performance.

After the reading Sapphire congratulated the actress and asked how she was able to so convincingly portray a poor,  horribly abused African American teenager living half a world away.

”Because you see,”  the young Swedish actress told Sapphire,  “her life story is very much like my own.”

Dana Susan Lehrman










Sapphire,  the author of Push,  speaks to our students.

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Precious, Movies
Characterizations: well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    You make a great point, Dana. Abuse is universal. The movie was a revelation of hurt, heartbreak and ultimate triumph.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    Precious was an amazing movie. How lucky you were to hear Sapphire speak, and I love the anecdote from the Swedish actor.

  3. So glad you highlighted Precious, Dee…such a powerful film! Fascinating anecdote…would love to have seen that performance as well.

  4. Marian says:

    I confess I haven’t seen the movie, and I want to make it a point to after reading this moving story, Dana.

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    This topic is great–I am getting ideas for things I have missed. Even if they may be hard to watch.

  6. Suzy says:

    Precious was a powerful movie, and I’m very glad I saw it, but I would NEVER want to see it a second time. Some pain is only bearable once. I am amazed that you consider this a rewatchable movie.

    • I understand your feeling Suzy, the film is so very painful to watch.

      But remember it resonated with me because sadly many of the students at the school where I was working were living in very poor and abusive families, much like the film’s protagonist.
      And I do think the acting was wonderful.

      And of course I was touched by the story of the Swedish actress told by Sapphire – how a tale of abuse and despair is sadly universal.

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