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C. Aubrey Smith
Life is hard in a Welsh mining town and no less so for the Morgan family. Seen through the eyes of the family's youngest, Huw, we learn of the family's trials and tribulations. Family patriarch Gwilym and his older sons work in the mines, dangerous and unhealthy as it is. Gwilym has greater hopes for his youngest son, but Huw has his own ideas on how to honor his father. Daughter Angharad is the most beautiful girl in the valley and is very much in love with Mr. Gruffydd, who isn't sure he can provide her the life she deserves. Times are hard and good men find themselves out of work and exploited by unseen mine owners. Written by
The story is told by an adult who remembers his childhood:Roddy McDowall gives a very sensitive performance in this part,he's simply the best actor of a topflight cast (to think that nowadays McDowall is remembered by the young generations mainly for his part of Cornelius the ape)All the scenes which involve the boy are simply wonderful,particularly the one with the daffodils (it 'd have been shot in color!),and the one with his father in his arms at the end.John Ford ,as usual , is a master when it comes to depict a small community who's got to stand together to survive.And he does not spare us the tragedies ,the bigotry ,the slander,but he adds humor,joie de vivre (the men,turning their nose on tea and wanting beer).
But sometimes it seems too good to be true:the boss's offspring marrying a miner's daughter,even when she's a beauty like Maureen O'Hara?The boss asking the poor father's permission?We are far from Emile Zola's "Germinal" :both stories happen about during the same era ,both with the miners' life both are radically different.Zola's world is a bleak,desperate world ,his depiction of the families' houses and meals (when there is food) and the pictures of Ford's movie are worlds apart.But the biggest difference is the omnipresence of the Lord's will:in "how green" the minister is a cool young handsome man (Pidgeon),in "Germinal" ,the priest's only a silhouette,but a selfish cruel one,unconcerned to man's plight:Zola's miners do not put their trust in a God anymore .
Wales and the east of France ,were they that much different?You can only say they were novels and movies,and reality is probably somewhere between them.
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