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The Minivers, an English "middle-class" family experience life in the first months of World War II. While dodging bombs, the Minivers' son courts Lady Beldon's granddaughter. A rose is named after Mrs. Miniver and entered in the competition against Lady Beldon's rose. Written by
Michael Rice <TheMikeRic@aol.com>
A film which justifies its status as a major classic.
It must be over 50 years since I first saw this classic film, and for some reason I never watched it again until recently. To do so was an interesting experience - reliving many memories of the war years which I mostly spent in London. I think the reason why there was such a long interval before I decided to watch it again was a subconscious recognition that it was produced at a time of crisis, largely for political reasons, and a feeling this was unduly evident in the screenplay. Mrs. Miniver was released a few months after Pearl Harbour, at a time when many U.S. citizens wondered why their country should be expending its efforts fighting in Europe when it was Japan which had attacked them The film was quite clearly written, produced and directed with the objective of answering this question. Winston Churchill has made it clear that he regarded the release of this film as one of the biggest single contributions made to the allied war effort (worth, in his words, "a flotilla of destroyers"), and it is hard today not to regard the film as primarily a piece of patriotic propaganda. However the deft and capable direction of William Wyler and the almost uniformly great acting by the cast, particularly Greer Garson as Mrs. Miniver, go a very long way towards concealing the fact that one is viewing a film with a message and few would deny that the Oscars it won were thoroughly deserved. Mrs. Miniver certainly earns its place on any short list of film classics.
There are of course already many comments on this film in the database, I would have been reluctant to add any more but for the realization that people of my age who lived in England during the war are becoming increasingly few, and our comments - which must have a rather different perspective to those of younger generations - will not continue to be available for very much longer. Many of the very fine sequences in this film have already been reviewed more than adequately by others and I will not comment further on them; but two sequences which I found particularly evocative were the call on amateur sailors to help evacuate the British army from Dieppe, and the pub scene where the locals were listening to the British traitor Lord Haw Haw broadcasting from Germany and telling his listeners how futile any further resistance would be. In stating this, I am simply confirming that for such documentary type films people who lived through the events depicted will assess the film on the basis of their personal memories rather than on their cinematographic quality.
Ultimately, both on its first viewing and when viewing it again a few days ago, I found that for me watching Mrs. Miniver was irritating because it inevitably showed an American view of life as it was in England. Numerous very small points indicated that we were seeing a glimpse of middle class English life through American eyes. Whilst as an English born viewer I found this irritating, it did not in any way detract from the primary purpose of the film in showing Americans what life in wartime Britain was really like, and why their involvement in the war in Europe was so vital. Ultimately I had to accept that this was a great film which well deserves its classic status.
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