Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Movie Review: Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Best Picture winner and Best Actress winner at the 1943 Academy Awards. For me it is one of the best war films of the Second World War.
 
The story follows a middle class English family during the first few years of WW2. We are introduced to the family Miniver. Clem Miniver is a architect and his wife Kay is the perfect wife and mother whom keeps the family together. The Minivers have two young children at home, aswel as an elder son who is at Oxford. Mrs. Miniver is very popular with everyone in the village even the local station master has named his newly cherished rose after her. When their elder son Vincent, comes home from Oxford for the summer he finds himself attracted to the lovely Carol Beldon, who happens to be the granddaughter of the Lady Beldon. All is well and the family is very happy until, September 1939 when England is declares war on Germany.Vincent joins the Royal Air-Force. Mrs. Miniver at one point even has to deal with an escaped German flyer who makes his way to her home, while Clem Miniver is helping evacuate the trapped British Soldiers from Dunkirk.

This film is wonderful. It shows the War from the viewpoint of the people at home, rather than the troops in battle. This for me is the master-stroke of this film, we have all seen films of men bravely charging into battle but we rarely see movies like this, that show the effects on  a family and the village they live in. no wonder it walked away with the best film Award, everything  for me works. 

Greer Garson whom plays Mrs. Miniver, is just brilliant to watch, the look of terror in her eyes when them bombs are dropping around them while she and her husband are holding onto their two young children in their shelter, you really feel the terror the people of England must of felt during these times. There is also the scenes when she meets the German Flyer at her house, once again the look of terror in her eyes and her stellar performance just put to the front the emotion, intensity and terror this woman is going through in the War. Its easy to see why she was named best Actress at the Academy Awards, fully deserved.

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Guess who directs this, its only William Wyler who went on to direct such classics as The Best Year Of Our Lives (1946), the wonderful Roman Holiday starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn (1953), but then he did a certain special little Oscar record breaking winning film called Ben-Hur (1959). Let me tell you now this film shows he is going onto better things his use of camera angles to show the emotion and intensity in Greer Garson's eyes is just amazing, he is already going on that route of brilliant story telling.

One thing that really moved me was seeing the people of the village stand together defiant not to change their ways because of the war. They still go on with their flower and vegetable show, even tho they know the Germans could bomb them any minute. There is a wonderful scene where the village is at Church and the local priest breaks the news to them about England declaring War on Germany, its very moving seeing their reactions, of sadness and general worry, of not knowing whats going to happen.

The climax is really emotional, the village bands together in the Church which is in ruins yet they sing full of hope that this war will end soon. There is a few other things that make it emotional too but that would be spoilers. I am an English man and even now I can feel how this film must of made the people of England feel, during these dark days, no wonder Winston Churchill himself adored the film. It is a worthy Oscar winning picture.
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