The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

Midway will be taking a break over the summer
After reminiscing with fond memories, Class of 2024 graduates in Rockefeller Chapel

‘Origin’ fascinates with gripping message

Released in late 2023, “Origin” is a remarkable movie that combines history, a personal story, a journalistic film and a documentary all in this unique production directed by Ava DuVernay.

The camera fades back and forth between the present and the past, creating an intertwinement of multiple different time periods. In seconds, the screen switches from a book burning during the Holocaust to an overloaded slave ship heading to America to people forced to clean sewers as a job in India. 

A movie that merges history, a documentary and a personal journey, “Origin” is a stunning production that immerses the audience with poignant acting from Aunjanue Ellis Taylor as Isabel Wilkerson and Jon Bernthal as Brett Hamilton. 

In 2 hours and 20 minutes, “Origin” is able to transport its audience through a rollercoaster of emotions: sadness, relief, anger and affection. Even small moments, such as Ms. Wilkerson and her mom comparing the shapes of clouds or Mr. Hamilton lovingly kissing Ms. Wilkerson goodbye, are powerfully executed.    

Based on the book “Caste: the Origins of our discontent” by Ms. Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, the movie depicts her struggle with personal loss and her discovery of the correlation of caste systems in Germany, India and the United States.  

But, what is caste? Simply put, it is a fixed social hierarchy individuals are born into that determines their status, privilege and how much society allows them to accomplish. 

Wilkerson published her book on this system in 2020, making the claim that current society is built on the foundation of a hidden caste system embedded in the history of the United States. Three years later, Ava DuVernay wrote, directed and produced this cinematic adaptation.

In an interview with CNN, Ms. DuVernay sees “Origin” as “​​a story that tackles the roots of America’s inequality, division, and oppression.”       

Despite the originality of the movie’s message, “Origin” has a simple plot: it depicts the life of Ms. Wilkerson as a woman of color navigating relatable, everyday struggles. This simplicity helped maintain focus on the deeper message, but that approach can be hit-or-miss depending on the audience. 

Because of the lack of advertisement before and during its release in January, “Origin ” did not receive as much attention as it deserved to, and is generally not a well-known movie. It’s  disappointing to know that “Origin” did not receive enough recognition for how raw and eye-opening it is in its depiction of Ms. Wilkerson’s everyday life struggle on a backdrop of pervasive issues of social hierarchy. 

Despite not relating to certain characteristics depicted, “Origin” is an emotional movie that develops a new perspective on the struggle of our current society, that has been present throughout history, in a relatable and moving manner.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Lucia Dumitrescu
Lucia Dumitrescu, Reporter
Lucia Dumitrescu is a member of the Class of 2027. She began journalism in the 2023-24 school year as a ninth grader. Outside of journalism, Lucia is a member of Robotics and Science Olympiad. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing guitar, ice skating and tennis.

Comments (0)

All U-High Midway Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *