The life of a Norwegian immigrant family in 1910 San Francisco centers around Mama and her detailed, pennywise household budget. We follow the Hansens' small joys, sorrows, and aspirations, with the boisterous antics of Uncle Chris as counterpoint. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The more time passes and the more inundated we become with the raunchy, violent, frenetic world around us, the more amazing this film becomes. My wife and I (both in our early 50's) just watched "I Remember Mama" again and were both deeply moved by its lovingly crafted, richly detailed story telling. It is an absolutely unique film, and DESERVES to be preserved on DVD --NOW!
I can think of no better example of brilliant direction--George Stevens obviously loved the experience---the actors are uniformly brilliant, and the story, despite the fact that ALMOST NOTHING REALLY HAPPENS throughout the 137 minutes it takes to tell it, pulls you in from the very first frame and holds you in its magical spell until the camera slowly glides out of the window and up into the tranquil night sky as the words "The End" appear.
There is a scene late in the film when, once again, barely anything really happens: the young Barbara Bel Geddes receives a rejection notice for one of her short stories in the mail, and the family discovers an article in the newspaper about a famous authoress who happens to be in town. Most any other director would have presented this scene in a straightforward, literal way in order to advance the plot. But George Stevens constructs the most imaginative, intricate and brilliant way of filming this scene, with the characters all moving between three different rooms in the house, with Papa teaching his son Nils a lesson about the true art of pipe smoking, the sisters dashing about, and a window under repair that refuses to stay closed ---- I am sure that all of this sounds quite incoherent, but it is only one example of the director's amazing skill that makes this remarkably UNeventful film a totally engrossing experience. The family's house, in fact, feels like a miniature enchanted castle, sometimes bright and airy, other times warm and cozy, as the director continually moves his cast, camera (and US!) through it.
And then there is the almost heartbreaking tenderness of the scene where Papa (Philip Dorn in a most lovingly understated performance) decides that daughter Katherine is grown-up enough to have her first cup of coffee, while Roy Webb's underscore plays what sounds like a poignant, sentimental Norwegian folk tune...... and the scene on the porch of Uncle Chris's country home, shortly after his death----another example of understated dignity and beauty that, like the entire film, rings SO TRUE to life.
If you truly value the art of filmmaking, you owe it to yourself (and your family) to own this movie. Believe me, we will NEVER see anything like it again.
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