The Human Stain

Synopsis: The Human Stain is the story of Coleman Silk (Hopkins), a classics professor with a terrible secret that is about to shatter his life in a small New England town. When his affair with a young troubled janitor (Kidman) is uncovered, the secret Silk had harbored for over fifty years from his wife, his children and colleague, writer Nathan Zuckerman, fast explodes in a conflagration of devastating consequences. It is Zuckerman who stumbles upon Silk's secret and sets out to reconstruct the unknown biography of this eminent, upright man, esteemed as an educator for nearly all his life, and to understand how this ingeniously contrived life came unraveled.
Director(s): Robert Benton
Production: Miramax Films
  3 wins & 5 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
106 min

You mean to tell me you're

President of the United States

and you're banging some

22 year-old intern in the White House

and you ask her to keep her mouth shut,

and you really think she's gonna do it?

I mean, come on, give me a break!

Clinton. He should count himself lucky

she didn't go straight to Oprah.

Come on, she was overwhelmed by

Starr's team in that hotel room.

No, poor thing.

Eleven guys hitting on her?

- That's a gang-bang.

- Oh, right.

That's why she's talking to Linda Tripp.

She's talking to everybody.

She's part of that whole dopey culture.

Yak yak yak.

Oh, look, if Clinton couldn't

figure Monica Lewinsky,

then he shouldn't

have been president.

That's grounds for

impeachment right there.

- That's true.

- You're right.

I'm telling you,

if he'd just f***ed her.

That's the way you

create loyalty.

- Yeah.

- That's the way.

But you know what Kennedy would

have done to her? Or Nixon?

They would have told her,

Not only are you not gonna work,

you're not gonna work ever again.

And your father's gonna be out of work.

And your mother. And your brother

Everybody in your family is

not gonna make one more thin dime

unless you keep your mouth shut.

Well, but Clinton plays it like a lawyer.

That's why he didn't want to come.

Hey, when he came,

he was finished.


Smoking come.

Nineteen ninety-eight was

the summer of sanctimony.

After the fall of Communism and

before the horrors of terrorism,

there was a brief interlude when

the nation was preoccupied by cocksucking.

This is Coleman Silk, powerful Dean

of Faculty and professor of Classics

at Athena College in western Massachusetts.

Educated at NYU and Oxford

Coleman taught in England before

returning to the U.S. To become

One of the first Jews to teach in

a Classics department anywhere in America.

When he was appointed Dean of Athena,

Coleman took the poulky

sleepy-hollow type college

and dragged it, kicking and screaming,

from mediocrity to excellence.

Of course, in the process,

he made a good many enemies.

Sing, O Gods,

of the wrath of Achilles

And finally, "the persecuting spirit"

caught up with Coleman.

All of European literature springs

from a fight, a barroom brawl, really.

And what was Achilles

so angry about?

Well, he and King Agamemnon

were quarrelling over a woman,

a young girl and her body

and the delights of sexual rapacity.

Achilles, the most hypersensitive

fighting machine

in the history of warfare.

Achilles, who, because of his rage

at having to give up the girl,

isolates himself defiantly

outside the very society

whose protector he is and

whose need of him is enormous.

Achilles, has to give up the girl.

He has to give her back.

And that is how the great imaginative

literature of Europe begins,

and that is why

three thousand years later,

we are going to

begin there today.

Miss Cummings, Tracy Cummings,

can you tell us

Still not here. Okay.

Mr. Thomas, William Thomas.

Is he here?

We're five weeks into the semester

and I haven't even laid eyes on these folks.

Can anyone tell me, do these people exist?

Or are they spooks?

Were you aware, Professor Silk,

that Tracy Cummings and William Thomas

are African-Americans?

How could I be?

I've never seen them.

But you are aware of

the connotation of the word "spook."

Ghost Professor Roux. Ghost.

I was referring to

their ectoplasmic character.

Here is the, uh, first definition

of the word. I quote

Spook, Informal

Ghost, Spectre

But, Dean Silk, let me remind you

of the second definition


I'd never laid eyes on them.

How could I know they were black? Hmm?

All I did know was

that they were invisible.


they have lodged a complaint.

Miss Cummings was devastated.

Now the issue here

These students have

never attended a single class.

Do they exist or are they spooks?

Consider the context.

- But, Dean Silk

- I've not finished!

The only issue is the nonattendance

of these students,

their inexcusable neglect of work

and their sheer chutzpah.

Oh, Miss Cummings is devastated.

Give me a break, will you?

To charge me with racism

is not only false,

it is spectacularly false!

And you know it!

Thanks a lot, Herb.

- Well, I've quit.

- What?

I've resigned from

that half-assed college.

Where's that last year's phone book?

Wait a minute.

Wait a minute. What happened?

- I've been accused of a racist epithet.

- What racist epithet?

I used the word "spooks," which

fifty years ago was just a slang

I know what it was slang for.

Where's that phone book?

We'll sue these wimpy bastards.

- I want that lawyer, Alfred or whatever

- Wait, did you remind them

- that when you were dean you...

- Yeah, I reminded them.

No, you hired Herb Keble,

the first black...

- Please, "African-American," please.

- Okay

- African-American, ever on the faculty.

- Where's that book?

Isn't Herb on the same committee?

- But wait, wait, just tell me

- Yes, he is.

And they're our friends,

for God's sake!

- Did Herb even open his mouth?

- Yes, yes.

I'm sorry, Coleman, I can't be

with you on this. Bullshit.

Fine, fine. They want to fight?

I'll give them a fight

that they'll never forget!

This is absolute lunacy!

After 35 years of your devotion

Now you know what we're going to do?

We're going to organize.

We're going to get them to sign

a petition. That's what we'll do.

No. You know what we're going to do?

We're going to do a two-pronged attack.

We're going to attack

We're going to get lawyers,

because I know some...

Okay. I know. Which is why

- Coly?

- What?

- Something's wrong.

- I know there is. What do you mean?

- Coly

- What's the matter?

- Coly

- Hey, come on, sit down.

What's the matter?

Come on.

- Come on.

- I'm sorry.

It's all right.

I'm sorry

Iris Silk died several hours later

in her husband's arms.

Six months after that,

Coleman came into my life.

I had been living alone in a small cabin

by a lake not far from Athena.

Including questions

about my private life...

questions no American citizen

would ever want to answer.

Still, I must take

complete responsibility

for all my actions

both public and private.

And that is why I am

speaking to you tonight.

- As you know, in a deposition in January

- Hello?

I was asked questions

about my relationship

- Are you Mr. Zuckerman?

- Yeah.

- Are you Nathan Zuckerman?

- Yeah.

You're the Zuckerman

that's the writer, correct?

- Yeah, but

- We've got to talk. May I come in?

Thanks. Your last book won

some sort of prize, right?

- It was short-listed for the

- That was 5 years ago. What happened?

You're blocked, right?

You're blocked!

You're worried you don't

have another story in you.

Well, I can fix that.

I'm the answer to your prayers.

- You know who I am?

- Dean Silk?

Dean Coleman Silk.

That's right.

The late, retired and now resigned

and unlamented Dean Silk,

following the murder

you clock that?

Following the murder of my wife.

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Nicholas Meyer

Nicholas Meyer (born December 24, 1945) is an American writer and director, known for his best-selling novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, and for directing the films Time After Time, two of the Star Trek feature film series, and the 1983 television movie The Day After. Meyer was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976), where he adapted his own novel into a screenplay. He has also been nominated for a Satellite Award, three Emmy Awards, and has won four Saturn Awards. He appeared as himself during the 2017 On Cinema spinoff series The Trial, during which he testified about Star Trek and San Francisco. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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