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The Minivers, an English "middle-class" family experience life in the first months of World War II. While dodging bombs, the Minivers' son courts Lady Beldon's granddaughter. A rose is named after Mrs. Miniver and entered in the competition against Lady Beldon's rose. Written by
Michael Rice <TheMikeRic@aol.com>
I avoided watching "Mrs. Miniver" for years because I assumed it was a treacly, sentimentalized film that ignored what I considered the real issues of war. Knowing Greer Garson, who I considered the anti-Crawford, starred in it gave me more of an excuse.
I finally watched it as "film homework" and loved it. It's about an upper-middle-class English family (although most of the American actors are terrible holding their accents) and their experience in the early years of World War II.
A swiftly-moving storyline takes us from the complacency of peace through air raids, Dunkirk and tragedy. No one is a super-hero, but decent people who understand they must put aside their personal concerns and do what must be done to fight for their country and freedom. No one preaches except the minister and he, only rarely.
Of course, it being England, there's time for a flower show, and being a movie, there's a romance (WWII was not kind to Theresa Wright's characters, however).
The film's remarkable pacing is one of its great highlights. Long transitions are covered in the merest of hints; a comment that a servant has departed, for example. Yet there's time for powerful, lengthy scenes such as that of the Minivers holed up in a crude bomb shelter with their two young children, away from their storybook home. Despite the increasingly hellish crash of bombs and bullets, they try to chat about knitting and such. But soon the fear builds to an unbearable climax and the family desperately clings to one another.
The acting is generally superb, and much of the story is told through silent shots of the stars, rather than dialog. Few moments are as touching as the shot of the glowing young wife seeing her husband off to war, admiring his courage, contrasted by the barely hidden fear and maturity of the mother.
You can nit-pick; the movie has many of the conventional stylistic hallmarks of the period. But it is the masterpiece it has long been hailed.
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