American historical drama from 1940.
Starring: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine
Director: John Ford
Writers: John Steinbeck, Nunnally Johnson
Bechdel test: Pass
Tom Joad returns home to his family in Oklahoma only to discover that they have been forced of their land. On a flimsy hope of finding work in California the whole extended family fills up in a dingy truck and heads out. Through their experiences we see the life of the poor and unemployed during the depression.
This is a good movie, pure and simple. I have read the book at some point, and liked it a lot. The shocking reality that the family meets in California and on their way there is unexpected.
I had not seen the movie before, and felt the movie brought even more to the story and made the Joad family come alive. Often I dislike films based on books that I like. Maybe it is the chosen shortcuts in the story in order to fit it into the length of the movie, maybe it is the choice of actors that doesn’t fit with my vision of the character, maybe it is something completely different, but this time it all came together to make the depression area’s great novel come alive.
The actors were fantastic and they all fit the parts physically as well. Jane Darwell as Ma Joad and John Carradine as Jim Casy stood out as exceptional in an otherwise good ensemble.
Visually I thought “Grapes of wrath” delivered, but I still have some difficulty judging the quality of black and white movies. My question isn’t weather I liked the quality or not, or weather I thought it was good enough, the question is rather how this rates up against the best they could do at the time. The movie is obviously not great visually compared to a recent movie, but that is neither expected or required, however, in order to judge the quality of the movie, I must compare it to it’s contemporaries, and do not know enough to do that.
The acting is as already mentioned very good. I expect this to be a large part of why the movie got a 100% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The star of this movie is the story, though. It shows how the Great Depression effected farmers and made them homeless migrants with no income in a society with no security net. The world the Joads encounter outside of the farmland region where everyone else shares their fate is for the most part cruel and hostile. Society does not want to accept the farmers they have so long depended on and simply casts them aside like so much waste.
There are many books written on the story in “Grapes of wrath”, the characters, the symbolism, the realism, the critique of society and many other aspects, so I will not delve into some kind of deeper analysis, but there is more than enough to keep a viewer entertained through the movie and make a more lasting impression as well.
I will definitely watch this movie again, and I will look forward to it. The question of who we are treating that badly on today’s society is still bugging me.
I think this is a movie I would recommend to everyone. The way poor people and the lowest class in society is seen as something other than human, as so much lower than everyone else that any treatment of them is accepted, and to some extent, good and decent treatment of this lowest rung on the human ladder is met with hostility, is also a problem today. The movie has a good lesson for us all.
For those who aren’t great fans of black and white movies, I would recommend the book. The message is maybe even clearer there, if I remember correctly. When Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in literature, this book was cited as an important reason, just to mention one of the many awards the book got.
Over to you
If you’ve recently seen “The Grapes of wrath” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.
13 movies down. 352 to go.
If you want to get “The Grapes of wrath” from Amazon, here is a link for that. They probably have the movie many other places too. Maybe it’s already on your shelf?
Tomorrow’s movie is “Munna Bahi M.B.B.S“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.
Until next time; live long and prosper.