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In Shenandoah, Virginia, widower farmer Charlie Anderson lives a peaceful life with his six sons - Jacob, James, Nathan, John, Henry and Boy, his daughter Jennie, and his daughter-in-law and James' wife Ann Anderson. Charlie does not let his sons join the army to fight in the Civil War that he does not consider their war. Jennie marries her beloved Lieutenant Sam, but they do not have a honeymoon since Sam has to return to the front. Charlie's youngest son Boy is mistakenly taken prisoner by soldiers from the North so Charlie rides with his sons to rescue Boy, while James and Ann stay on the farm. It is time of violence and war, and tragedy reaches the Anderson family. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This is a classic. A real beauty of a film. Produced during the nightmare period of racial integration in the Southern United States, and the Vietnam War. The story plays out in one main location, a Large farm in the Shenadoah Valley during the American Civil War. The history of the valley is crucial to an understanding of the two central themes of the story, Man against man and man against God, so I recommend a basic understanding of the history of the valley in conjunction with viewing the film.
We are taken on a journey of faith, and strength of family, by a family surrounded by the madness of war. Considering the epic nature of both the themes and the war, this film manages to navigate a very clear and coherent path from beginning to end. The family's patriarch, played very convincingly by James Stewart, is trying to successfully resolve three conflicts.
He is at odds with God for taking his wife from him. This inner conflict is beautifully captured by his handling of grace at the family supper, and his retreating to the grave of his wife and speaking to her spirit in heaven while he maintains his anger with God.
He is also faced with the conflict of protecting his property while the two armies virtually destroy the valley around him.
And, he is faced with the conflict of saving his sons from senseless slaughter in a losing war to protect the right to own slaves. This is the film's central conflict and forms the main plot. The issues of terror and inhumanity are handled with subtlety, tact, and diplomacy. Many will enjoy watching this film simply because it tells a great story beautifully and raises important issues without graphic violence. This is a great film and a good vehicle for generating family discussions about racism, family, God, faith, and inner strength.
For the thicker skinned and more mature among us, another wonderful movie that loosely parallels this one would have to be The Patriot (2000), Directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Mel Gibson
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