Friday, 20 January 2012

How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley, 1941
Directed by John Ford
Nominated for 10 Oscars, Won 5
Won BP Over Blossoms in the Dust, Citizen Kane, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Hold Back the Dawn, The Little Foxes, The Maltese Falcon, One Foot in Heaven, Sergeant York, Suspicion.

Synopsis: We see the story of The Morgan family, living in a Welsh mining town, through the eyes of the youngest son, Huw.

Overall, this film didn't really have a structured plot line, and was more a series of anecdotes, and smaller subplots. We have the subplot of Huw's father and brothers working in the mines, pay getting cut, going on strike, etc. We have the story of Huw's only sister, Angharad, the prettiest girl in the town, who's in love with the preacher, but she cannot be with him. And then we have Huw, who is trying to become a man, we see him learn to walk after an accident, and going to school, and working in the mines.

I was a big fan of the acting in this film, specifically, the little boy who played Huw (Roddy McDowall). He was natural, didn't overact, and was charming as the young boy telling the story. While he didn't really carry the film, he gave off the innocence of a little boy so well, from when we first see him, to the very end, and we're on his side all the way. I thought he was the most interesting character overall, and wasn't too interested in the scenes without him (there were many). Additionally, both his parents were quite good (the father, Donald Crisp, who Best Supporting Actor), as well as his sister.

Also the film looked very good, as it had won Best Cinematography. And the Original Score was quite good, too. Fun fact about the score: Alfred Newman is the most nominated composer in Best Original Score (He was 43 Nominations, John Williams has 40 (many saw JW has more, but I'm not including best original song, this is score only), is the 2nd most Oscar nominated individual (lost to Disney, tied with JW), scored the 20th Century Fox, then 20th Century Pictures, theme that's still in use today, and he is father to famous composer Thomas Newman (Finding Nemo, American Beauty) and uncle to Randy Newman (Toy Story, Monsters Inc, etc), and is considered one of the three Godfathers of film music, and is still considered one of the greatest composers to work with film. That being said, he didn't win an Oscar for this film, but the music was fantastic anyway.

The set design was also very good. The Welsh city looked great, and had a small, homey feel to it. The small stone houses, the church, the little shops, everything was quaint, and fit the story very well. 

Overall, I didn't find the story all that interesting, and found myself quickly bored with it. While everything concerning Huw was interesting (his accident, going to school, etc), everything else wasn't that remarkable. The stories were realistic, and so honest, but at the same time, they didn't quite capture me. It was a bland story, and so many of the characters you didn't get to know enough. I hardly knew the names, much less the character of all of Huw's brothers, and we only kind of know the sister, and only really in the aspect that she loves the new preacher.

Unpopular opinion, but this is my least favourite Best Picture winner yet. Many complain it beat out Citizen Kane, which is a classic. Frankly, it was an okay film, but I don't see what made it the best film of the year. It was a boring story about a Welsh mining family, and in the end, I felt no impact or emotional connection from it.

Acting- 9.5/10     
Directing- 8/10     
Screenplay- 6/10     
Music – 7/10    
Visuals- 7/10     
Entertaining- 2/10    
Emotional Connection- 4/10     
Rewatchability- 2/10     
Overall Enjoyment- 4/10     
Overall Package- 5.5/10      

Total: 55/100 

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