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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tragedy of the dust bowl of the 1930s, the economic collapse and the
resulting great depression all highlight this outstanding John
Steinbeck book, which was made into a monumental motion picture.
Very hard to believe that Henry Fonda's Tom Joad lost the Oscar that year to Jimmy Stewart in "The Philadelphia Story." Fonda gave a superb performance in the role of the Oakie son going with his family to California to start life anew.
A year after her role as Aunt Pity Pat in the superb "Gone With the Wind," Jane Darwell won the best supporting actress award for her super sensitive but tough-minded Ma Joad. She depicted the pain felt by so many Americans during this difficult period, and won a well-deserved Oscar, despite the fact that her competition included Barbara O'Neil, ironically Scarlett O'Hara's mother in GWTW and the magnificent Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers in "Rebecca." What a difficult choice the Academy had.
As for the "Grapes of Wrath," it lost the Oscar to "Rebecca," but picked up the director's award for John Ford. The latter had an understanding of America and he was rewarded for depicting 1930s landscape. The movie dealt with harsh reality and is a tribute to the men and women of the period.
I have nothing but praise for this film. It is near perfection. Beautiful cinematography. Amazing acting. Powerful story about survival. Henry Fonda delivers what might be his best performance as Tom Joad a man struggling to get by but who eventually realizes that he is meant for greater things and that there's more to life than just helping yourself. The film is masterfully directed by John Ford and beautifully shot by cinematographer Gregg Toland. The outdoor shots are grand and bleak at the same time, bringing about a feeling of the insignificance of man compared to nature and the grand scheme of things. The lighting will go from very dark and depressing showing the characters in deep moments of suffering only for it to be broken by brightly lit moments where all seems well in the world. See this movie, that is all i have to say. Words almost fail to describe just how great this movie is
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An enormously powerful and moving narrative of the hardships and perseverance of one poor farming family during the great depression, this film beautifully blends expert cinematography and moving dialogue. The Joad's struggle is hauntingly foreshadowed at the beginning in the Joad's abandoned house, where a mood of tragedy is established. Throughout the film, use of deep contrast and shadow is appropriately used to emphasize moments of despair and sullenness, the preacher often comes in and out of shadow and plays a key role in Tom Joad's development. I found the mother to be exceptionally engaging, owning most of the emotional power and meaning in the dialogue. While the film is mainly a constant bludgeoning of sadness, and it feels as though the Joad's will never be at peace, there are moments of relief. The grandpa serves a dose of comic relief, and the government run housing camp is the only place happiness seems to exist. Over the course of the film you begin to feel connected to the Joads, and start thinking like them. As the Joad's enter the displaced farmers' camp, you feel a sense of apprehension along with Tom, and you find yourself waiting for the next injustice to present itself. You then grow attached to this haven, and feel accomplished when the police scheme against it is thwarted. The beautiful photography, top tier dialogue, and moving story all blend to produce an engaging style typical of great movies; a category in which this film rightly fits.
I am from India and just thought the whole world is/was rich except India. Westerners gamble, Middle east means luxury and summers are snowfall everywhere except India. I was wrong. I was terribly wrong. Hunger can cross boundaries, language, caste and creed. This movie isn't any technical gimmick, even may not be faithful adaptation of the novel but its just fine. When whole world thinks Hollywood is just rolling cars, naked breasts, some sex and violence then and there comes few movies to slap us right in the heart and say "you ain't seen nothing yet".
Coming to the movie it may be sad, cliché and depressing but believe me folks this was shot in 1940 and as a close tracker of 30's and 40's world movies this was a fresh movie at that time and movies like this (pursuit of happiness)can put European movies to shame (no exaggeration). If I had a chance to remake this movie I can do it in universal language (silence). Its gripping, honest and shattering.
This ain't a movie to watch with a pop corn and a coke. It demands more than that (your heart). Skip it if you are looking for an entertainer. Otherwise it's the best and better.
Any John Steinbeck title-turned-film tends to scare away contemporary
viewers with thoughts of two-plus hours of depressing country drama,
but we often forget how radical Steinbeck was for his time,
particularly with his Depression-era Dust Bowl novel "The Grapes of
Wrath." With an adaptation by one of Hollywood's first great directors
(and greatest frontier/Western director) in John Ford, this film is
anything but a classic adapted for the screen just for the sake of it.
Starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, "The Grapes of Wrath" centers on Joad, recently paroled after killing a man in self-defense, and his large family (including parents, grandparents, uncle, sister, brother, etc.) traveling out to California after being forced out of their Oklahoma home in search of work. This one flame of a new life out west, however, slowly begins to flicker away as they find out more and more that they're one of thousands competing for the same few hundred low-wage contractor jobs.
The realization creeps up on the characters and even ourselves. A whopping 70 years later, if you come to the film without putting your history cap on, you'll almost be convinced the Joads have a shot. Screenwriter Nunnally Johnson hinges much of the film's movement on moments of realization, creating a growing shadow. Ford gives each scene a chance to sink in with his lingering closing shots that slowly fade to black. These are ancient foreshadow techniques, but Ford reminds us why they're timeless.
The building tension keeps "Wrath" from festering too long in thoughts about good and evil and what actions make a man one or the other, which was sort of radical thinking for the Depression era. The former preacher Casy (John Carradine) who lives like a hobo and claims he no longer has the spirit because he cannot determine automatically what is right or wrong anymore was more progressive than we realize. Occasionally the script will go back on itself or insert somewhat needless moments of pause for Ma Joad (Oscar winner Jane Darwell) to sermonize about Steinbeck's themes, but audiences probably needed to be hit over the head with this stuff in 1940; it is a different philosophy, that's for sure.
Tom Joad's famous speech to Ma as he leaves his family to go off and fight the cause ("wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there ... ") is one of the earliest American "one person can make a difference fighting for what he/she believes in" speeches on camera. Since 1940 we've had so many more examples of real life people who have stood up for a cause and fought injustice. "The Grapes of Wrath" might seem unoriginal in that thought, but in American history, it's hardly the case. And most certainly, that message will never become irrelevant in spite of hope that it one day might be.
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This film of John Steinbeck's classic novel falls into the rare
category of: must be watched by everyone. Everyone will come away with
the stark impression of the Great Depression in America, the tragic
lives led by families of this era, and the tenant farmer/slave wage and
plantation mentality which still thrives (in more covert form) in the
Henry Fonda as Tom Joad returns to his family in Oklahoma to learn that they are being thrown off their land by a corporation; no work existed in the area, and flyer's proclaiming livable wages for peach pickers in California ostensibly represent a future for the Joad family. They pack up Mother (Jane Darwell, wonderful performance), grandma, grandpa and assorted children including Rose of Sharon who becomes pregnant en route to California.The vehicle they drive thousands of miles is a dilapidated jalopy, and they live a hardscrabble life, stopping at a gas station and barely able to afford a day old loaf of bread. The scene where grandpa buys the two children peppermint candy is particularly sad, the waitress charges him less as she realizes the family is dirt poor. Another telling scene is when Tom (Fonda) stops at a gas station and two arrogant gas station attendants survey his situation, saying. ..." those Okies just aren't human, living like they do"... the rejection of middle class America of these peoples plight is rancid and prevalent.It still exists today.
Eventually the Joads get to a labor camp where they are treated like criminals and live in sub-human conditions. The DP captures the stark images of starving sad children begging mother (Darwell) for food, any food. They are all starving.
Eventually the Joads drive on to find another camp, run by the department of agriculture, which at least provides clean water, bathrooms and food. Grandma dies when they finally reach California soil, the promised land.
Henry Fonda is frankly flawless in this performance, depicting a young man attempting to make a life, but having no resources, no societal support.
A truly perfect film, worth several viewings as you realize there are still impoverished people in America living this way, whether in the foothills of Appalachia, or the sugar cane fields of South Florida. 10/10.
OK so this was kind of a long movie. It was sad. Some of the things I noticed in this movie were, how they kind of flashed backwards which is something I haven't seen in one of our movies. I liked the shot with the 3 shadows of the men standing there after they were told to get off there land. I thought that was a nice and different camera move. Some other things I saw during this movie is when they lit the candle in the house to see if anyone was there there was still a back light. where was that coming from? another thing was the sound. When the wind storm was rolling in it was extremely loud and if you looked around not everything was moving from these terrible winds. another thing was I liked the fact that they used a montage effect of all the signs when they were traveling from Oklahoma to California. The last thing i notice is when the family reached the Colorado river and they all got out to look at the beautiful sight, there voiced sounded as if there were on a set and not in an open area. over all I did like the movie but it was sad Megan
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a sad movie, but with very powerful imagery. I was dreading this movie because I knew how depressing the book was, although I read it long ago. I was going to watch it in two stages, but once I started watching it, I could not stop until it was over it was so compelling. Some of the characters were a bit flat, with the exception of Tom Joad and the preacher. I cannot believe John Carradine as the preacher was the same actor who played the gambler in Stagecoach. Both very amazing performances. I liked this movie better than Citizen Kane, much better. The scenery, lighting, and cinematography really pulled you in to the story. The views of the skyline and vastness during their journey added to the entire feeling of the film.
The grapes of wrath is so realistic and breath taking, it will leave you in a world of emotions. it is the story of the Joad family, who are kicked off their land in Oklahoma because of drought and poverty. Since there wasn't a lot of variation on the black and white cinematography in 1940's, the lack of color increases the emotions of wholeness,poverty and emptiness due to the family's foreclosure and forcing them to move. The Grapes of Wrath is merely not a cutting edge sit at the end of your seat film, but it is a realistic portrayal of the suffering that so many people and families experienced during the Great Depression. The performance by the actors and the work of the production company couldn't be more on its mark. the experience is not only powerful and moving but also educational.
This film although made almost seventy years ago is as relevant today as it was then. It depicts a family struggling to survive the effects of a depression and trying to do the right thing in spite of enormous suffering and degradation. You could make a similar film today and probably film it anywhere in the world. There were millions starving in the world both in 1940 and now almost 2010 and without sounding too pessimistic I cannot see an end to this situation. I am not interested in politics mainly because politicians worldwide generally are not interested in changing anything for the better. Thats not to say that I don't hope for a better future but I think it unlikely that my dream of no poverty will ever come true. The situation is the same as it always was and has been the same for centuries and millions have died as a result. That is not just my particular opinion that is a fact. If you are down you will rarely get any help and indeed you are more likely to be taken advantage of because there is always someone that has the power and the lack of empathy to do that. This film graphically sets out what can happen should you and your family find yourself in a similar position. I would recommend anyone watch this film as another timeless classic. To me 'The grapes of wrath' is another warning from history, it seems we collectively are not listening.
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