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The Grapes of Wrath (1940) is definitely a well put together film that reflects a wide range of emotions including sadness and anger, which were commonly expressed during the Great Drepression, as well as hope. The camera seemed able to capture all of these emotions in the empty surroundings that showed the barren land, and in the haunted looks of the characters as they faced a hardship that too many real people faced in the Great Depression. I liked how the cinematography showed the empty spaces in several shots while also focusing on the individual silhouettes outlined in between the empty space. I thought this technique showed people as dark "shadows" on the screen, pointing out the fact that they were shadows of who they used to be.
"The Grapes of Wrath" is a 1940 adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic novel of the same name. It tells the story of the Joad family trying to make their to California while trying to survive the harsh conditions of the Great Depression. The movie was very political in the sense that it made many references to left sided politics, especially when the preacher, Jim Casey, mentions that he is turning to Communism. Because of this, the movie received a little negative criticism. The movie won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress and Best Directer, as well as nominated for Best Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Sound Recording, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
This is just a terrific film that will touch anyone who has suffered injustice in their life. Amazing how Hollywood has continued to not get the awards correct as Henry Fonda really was the best actor winner for his magnificent performance but the award was given to his best friend jimmy Stewart for Philly Story. Jimmy of course should have won for MR Smith goes to washington the year before! Now John ford made some huge and glorious pics, but he was a despicable human as testified by the great maureen Ohara in her auto biography. Fate deals a cruel hand and Ford deserved what he git in later years for the acts he displayed in his little weasely life. But he could put together a picture as demonstrated by this great film
Great Movie. "The Grapes Of Wrath" was known to be an outstanding novel. John Ford brings us his adaptation of it. This movie was so well done. One technical aspect was how great the photography looked, by cinematographer Gregg Toland, one of the best in the industry at that time period. John Ford gave this movie excellent direction, he conveyed good character development and the movie had movement and progression, both in the storyline, the core meaning and the character relationships. It's a sad movie made in 1940, but taking place in the 30's during the dust bowl, families are forced to migrate west to California in hopes of finding work. With thousands of families migrating, few can be accommodated. For the family of Tom Joad luck was rare. The emotions, mood and feeling that come from the very roundness and progressiveness is what makes this movie so desirable. Also the shot composition and lighting really helped me feel the mood of the story. "The Grapes of Wrath" is a very realistic and sad story of man vs. law and man vs. society. It shows us how the best thing to do is to stick together with your loved ones and you'll get by. This was such and inspiring influential movie.
The "Grapes of Wrath" film is a somewhat simplified version of
Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize winning book about an Oklahoma tenant farmer
family in the Dust Bowl days. After being evicted from the land they'd
farmed for generations, they join many other Okie families migrating to
California seeking opportunities to work. In California the Okies were
often taken advantage of by affluent land owners who promised fair
wages but then paid half what they promised. Those migrants who
resisted exploitation were sometimes viewed (and treated) as "reds";
local police (or private security agents) were too often used to
intimidate or quell resistance.
Steinbeck's criticism of such exploitation of workers led to banning the book in some places although it became quite popular through most of the US and led to reforms. Henry Fonda's role as Tom Joad earned his stardom; Jane Darwell (as Ma Joad) won a deserved Oscar for best supporting actress as did John Ford for directing.
Steinbeck was very critical of an economic system that allowed such mistreatment of sharecroppers and tenant farmers by wealthy land owners, bankers, etc., (supported by local officials wherever the owners/bankers resided). But while the movie piles worst case on worst case, IMO it's a fair view of how bad things sometimes got in the Great Depression era (1929-40).
I spent 2 summers (1949, 1950) in the Bootheel of Missouri working in communities of former sharecroppers who'd been evicted from their jobs and their shack homes in circumstances parallel to that of the Okie families. These evictions happened when the owners of the cotton plantations, after receiving federal agricultural subsidies for NOT growing cotton, decided to keep all the money for themselves by evicting their farm families (January, 1939), making thousands homeless.
The tenant farmer/sharecropper system was based on the land owners providing substandard housing to farm families plus advancing them credit (in their company stores) for food, clothing, and seed. In return the farm families planted, tilled, and picked the cotton. But their share of return from the cotton harvest was never sufficient to get out of debt to the store. The system made the farm families, in essence, indentured servants. Until they were kicked out.
While the motivations (land owners' greed, farm families' struggles to survive in extreme circumstances) and conflicts were very similar to what the Okies experienced, the resolution of this Bootheel crisis became far more uplifting and inspiring than the struggles without victors presented in the "Grapes of Wrath." But almost certainly, the popularity of this book and movie helped lead to such a different outcome in the Bootheel only a few years later.
This video describes the Bootheel situation: http://www1.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=148227
By Googling "Sharecroppers Strike" and "Cotton Patch Moses" you'll find a number of links that describe this Bootheel crisis, its conflicts, significant people, and outcomes.
I have been watching many old black and white movies for my history of
cinema class and have enjoyed them all. So i did also enjoy "The Grapes
of Wrath" but i was much less intrigued. I liked the story and the plot
and do think all other aspects of the film were good. It was a bit dull
at times and seemed to drag on in places.
i did completely feel for the Joad family throughout the movie and was always rooting for them to find some sort of employment. I understand that the film is meant to show the struggles of families in the midwest during the depression and it certainly did a good job getting that point across.
I perked up at the very end when Tom told his mother that he was going to try and do something about the land and attempt to gather protester's, which would have given the movie a bit more action or just a specific direction. But that is probably because I am so accustomed to modern day movies jam packed with non stop action.
When I say this I don't mean in the sense of how accurately the film follows Steinbeck's novel; the film starts to stray from the books story around halfway through the movie. What I mean is the film is great on it's own and ,unlike most film adaptations of books, this movie kept most of the others message intact. The key difference I found was that the book was much sadder. I know it's hard to believe seeing how depressing this movie was but their were many things the director chose not to show. The biggest difference was in the endings. The film leaves you with some since of optimism for these people, the novel does no such thing. The book leaves you with Rosasharn giving birth to a stillborn and offering her breast milk to a man dying of starvation. This obviously could have never been shown in theaters during the 1940's and I'm glad for it. I believe it would have been one powerful scene but the book was way to sad to begin with and the film was pretty depressing as well. Currently we could have handled a film like that just fine but back in the 1940's this was some amazingly heavy stuff. I just think keeping to Steinbeck's original ending would have instilled to much ill feelings in Americans in a time where we needed some optimism. So great film, don't watch it though if you can't handle a little despair though.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film brings to light the great struggles people went through during the depression. It is a brutal reality check of what our futures may hold, a world of struggle and hurt that we can not even fathom. This hard working hopeful family is only one on the long road to a more fruitful life, and though along the way they hear of the good and bad to come they continue on. Throughout their journey one by one family members are lost; through death and separation. When they finally arrive to their land of hope it is one of little earnings and less than humane working conditions. In the end after all they have gone through they remain held together by Ma who never gives up on her family, constantly pushing them to persevere.
This film surely deserved being nominated in the Academy Awards.
Steinbeck's message was butchered and the story of the Okies disgraced.
These two viewpoints are both fairly accurate in their own respect.
Indeed this is very entertaining and captivates its audience, but it
also twists the story Steinbeck conveys in his book. Before considering
whether or not to view this movie, you first need to know if it is the
right match for yourself.
Entertainment: If you are searching for the perfect movie to sit back on a Friday night, maybe reminisce in the past, eat some popcorn, enjoy a classic movie, then you should continue reading under heading. This film did deserve being nominated for best film in the Academy Awards. Excellent cinematography and great actors like Henry Fonda and John Carradine set this movie apart and make the audience really feel for the Joads. After losing their family farm, the Joads set out as migrant workers on their way to California. They overcome adversity as the try to get settled and find work, despite the attitudes of the land owners. This is a story of overcoming odds and no matter what happens, staying together as a community, as the people.
Compare and Contrast: If you're looking to see how this movie compares to this book and are hoping that it will accurately depict Steinbeck's novel, then turn around. I'm not saying this is a bad movie, it does tell the story of the Joads and shows the problem they are facing, but the way in which the Joads combat this diversity is different between the two works. The beauty of the inner chapters isn't expressed to its full potential in the movie. It's not expected that this can be done, but the effects of the inner chapters is part of what made the novel what it was. In the book, the inner chapters tied the Joads to the entire community and helped set up some context. The movie tells some of the stories of those in the inner chapters, but doesn't give the sense of community that the book has. Along with the lack of sense of community the relationship of the family is not the same between the two entities. In the book the two kinds of families, the Joads and John Davis', are compared. The difference between the two are having the family break up, but have community replace it, or have a family that stays together, but their connection to the community is destroyed. The movie seems to take the stance of Joe Davis' family because the focus is put on the family and the aspects of the family falling apart like Noah's Departure and the Joads connection to their community is downsized. The Joads never meet the Wilsons and the boxcar seen is completely taken out. Also the family farm isn't really shown in detail and there isn't a sense of connection to the agriculture because not a single peach or piece of cotton is shown. This brings me to my next point.
Students: If you need to read this book over the summer before going back to school, watch this movie. It seems like a spark note of the book as it summarizes the travels of the family and their hardships. However, if you need to discuss the themes of this book, you might not get a very good grade. The problems of the Joads remain intact, but the solutions of their problems are different. Emphasis is put on the people instead of sacrifice to move forward.
This is truly a good movie, but if you are hoping it will reflect the book, you might not enjoy it as much. Personally having read the book myself, I did enjoy this movie and respected it for what it did achieve for its time; however you can't view this thinking that it will be like watching Steinbeck tell his story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Grapes of Wrath is really an excellent movie fantastic actors and
casting, and cinematography, especially for the time it was made.
Seeing it after just finishing Steinbeck's book, though, I was a little
disappointed. Even though it's a great movie, it's not so great of an
Throughout the film, I never really felt Steinbeck's message really coming across, except in certain points when direct dialogue was used from the book. Steinbeck showed the story of many people in his novel, and how important it was for them to come together as a community, while the movie focuses simply on the Joads. There is hardly any interaction between the Joads and the other Okies at all. In the end, Ma talks about surviving, and how that was all they had to do to make everything better. Steinbeck never wanted the Joads or any other Okie to just survive, he wanted them to come together as a whole and make sure they got their rights. The movie shows that just surviving makes everything better. Ending with the government camp (craftily renamed "wheat patch" rather than "weedpatch") gives the sense that there are decent people, and the Joads will have no problem finding decent people and a place to live. Ending with the boxcar and the flood and Rose of Sharon's scene (which is understandably not in the movie) shows that the hard times were hard from over, but if they stay as a community, they can try to make things better.
All of this being said, the movie has some really good references back to the book. Most of the actors managed to completely get their characters down. My main problem was with Al, and how much he was downplayed in the film. (And I felt a little hurt when they completely forgot about Noah). Ma and Tom and Casey, however, really did manage to find their characters. The scene between Ma and Tom right before Tom left was the scene that felt the most true to me. I was upset, though, that the only characters allowed to be seen and developed through the movie were the Joads, and every connection they had with other families, like the Williams and the Wainwrights, did not exist. The connections between the families was what brought out the book's message, and made it about more than just the Joads. It made it about everyone.
I understand the context this movie was made in, with the Depression barely over, the memories and events of Steinbeck's novel still fresh in everyone's minds. A complete replica of The Grapes of Wrath would have a been a bit too harsh for everyone then, and honestly impossible with the technology of the time. I think I would just ask in a remake for them to try to get it a little better.
It really is a fantastic film, especially for the time period, and on its own it's great. In terms of displaying Steinbeck's message, though, it does miss the mark.
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