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Fantastic Filmmaking & Cinematography, though it strays from The Book, 27 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After taking a film class you get used to being shown the same scene over and over again before having to tear it apart and examine the fine points of film technique. After watching the entirety of The Grapes of Wrath for the first time in my English class, I considered what I have learned and what gear I have worked with doing filmmaking, even if it was a beginner class. Understanding that in the 1940's, during the Great Depression no less, filmmakers did not have the equipment or technology we have the fortune of using presently, I believe Nunnally Johnson's adaptation of John Steinbeck's classic novel deserves praise for the exceptional cinematography.

The camera angles, different shot types, color scheme, and lighting all helped effectively portray the desperate times in which the Joad family lived. The varied shot types are used as the components of storytelling; the close-ups show the raw emotion in Ma and Tom's relationship when they are having conversations, while the panning long shots show the constantly changing settings the jalopy moves through. John Ford's choice to use black and white film versus color film significantly changes the overall appearance of the story; it comes out as dirtier and rougher; the darker side of America.

I do hold some narrow-mindedness toward the film seeing as I read the book beforehand. If you are planning to read the book and watch the movie, I recommend you read the book first so as not to confuse yourself when you find the order of events rearranged or missing all together in the movie. Those differences cause the entire message of the movie to shift away from Steinbeck's message in the book, but they had to be done in order for Fox to even allow the movie to be produced. I admit there were so many changes in detail that I was disappointed with the storyline of the film, but overlooking that I still deem this film as a true artistic presentation. John Ford generated an incredible film using the bits and pieces he was allowed from the novel ; he made do with what he had and kept on living, just as the message of the film goes.