Behind Loving

Dec 12, 2016 by Savannah Taylor on The Nickelodeon Blog

by Laura Smith, Marketing Intern

Richard and Mildred Loving were married in June of 1958, in Washington D.C. They were arrested six months later for violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act, which barred people of different races from marrying. They were ordered to leave Virginia and not return for 25 years. Their appeal reached the Supreme Court and resulted in Loving v. the State of Virginia, which–three years after the Civil Rights Act–finally cemented the right to marry regardless of race.

Above: Richard and Mildred Loving in 1965

Loving written and directed by Jeff Nichols, shares the story of the couple behind the court case. Nichols sought sincerity over scintillation, maintaining historical accuracy and seeking lead actors that embodied Richard and Mildred. Open casting calls asked for bricklayers, blue-collar workers, and teachers, advertising both the job and the spirit of the movie being made.

Nichols decision to focus on the couple rather than the court has been met with some criticism: Is he removing the historical context? Keeping the attention on Richard and Mildred adds empathy and nuance to the right to marry. Through their story, we witness the tension that permeates every day. We feel Mildred’s heart constrict when her children have nowhere to run and play. When she finally receives the news that they’ve won, we share in her liberation. Her life, her love, and her children are validated and free.

Loving responds to the dehumanizing past by focusing on people, on love, and on family. It is playing through this Thursday, December 15.