I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How Green Was My Valley, 1941

Not Rated

“How Green Was My Valley” is a movie based on the best-selling book about the tight-knit Morgan family in a small Welsh coal-mining community at the turn-of-the-century. The story is told through the eyes of the youngest son Huw, who is now a middle-aged man, who recounts the impressionable events during a chunk of time in his childhood. The family’s sentimental story chronicles several years of trials and injustice, as well as issues of family loyalty and romantic but unsatisfied love.

The father was the head of the house and believed in eating dinner in silence for “no one’s talk was better than a good meal.” Huw muses, “If my Father was the head of the house, my Mother was the heart.” When watching how the Father interacts with his sons, I couldn’t help but sadly think, ‘gone are the days when a father can just look at his adolescent boys and command silence and respect.’

The only daughter of the family was played by the beautiful Maureen O’Hara (who I remember from the original “Parent Trap”). She falls hopelessly in love with the town’s preacher, Mr. Gruffyd, whose voice, some musical-lovers like me might recognize as the great Mr. Zeigfeld in “Funny Girl”.

At one touching part in the movie, the Father reads a symbolic passage from Scripture: Psalm 23. He reminds his sons that even in the darkest times in their life, the Lord is with them and will guide them along the right path. This movie is indeed a tender story of life, love, and devotion.

I found it fascinating when I learned that this movie could have been shot in Technicolor, but the director and producer chose to shoot it in black and white. They believed it would make the film more dramatic. It also helped hide the fact that they disguised the hills of Malibu, California as the hills of South Wales. This movie was intended to be a four-hour epic film like “Gone with the Wind” shot on location, but with the impending war and budget cuts, it had to be shortened. On the Netflix wrapper and other online sites, I read that this movie "spans 50 years in the life of the Morgan family". Unless my Mom and I fell asleep for about 45 of those years, there were really only about 5 years documented. Bizarre...

“How Green Was My Valley” was up against “Blossoms in the Dust”, “Here Comes Mr. Jordan”, “Hold Back the Dawn”, “The Little Foxes”, “The Maltese Falcon”, “One Foot in Heaven”, “Sergeant York”, “Suspicion”, and “Citizen Kane”. I have no doubt that when you read that last movie title, you thought, “‘Citizen Kane’ didn’t win!?” I think most the population would join in that chorus. “Citizen Kane” is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made. I’ve seen it and remember being a little bored… I should probably watch it again; but I wasn’t bored with “How Green Was My Valley”. “How Green…” was nominated for ten awards that night and won five. It was an interesting time in Hollywood because Pearl Harbor was bombed just a couple of months before the award show. The community rallied together to boost morale and provide entertainment for the troops.


Mr. Gruffyd has a poignant private moment with young Huw in a pasture where he tries to teach him about the importance of prayer. “Keep clean your spirit... by prayer, Huw. And by prayer, I don't mean shouting, mumbling, and wallowing like a hog in religious sentiment. Prayer is only another name for good, clean, direct thinking. When you pray, think. Think well what you're saying. Make your thoughts into things that are solid. In that way, your prayer will have strength, and that strength will become a part of you, body, mind, and spirit.”

In a more light-hearted scene, but still with undertones of seriousness, the town’s boxer pays a visit to Huw’s school teacher. Previously, the teacher whips young Huw for practicing boxing/fighting in the play yard with the other boys. Enraged by the abuse, the older brothers want to give the teacher a taste of his own medicine, but Huw requests that they not.  Instead, Dai Bando (the boxer) and his buddy, make a secret trip there while school’s in session and “teach” the teacher how to box, rendering him passed out on the floor.


Pay attention to lessons taught by an older generation. They are wise for a reason and are trying to pass their wisdom onto you, if you have the heart to listen.

"With strength goes responsibility - to others and to yourselves. For you cannot conquer injustice with more injustice - only with justice and the help of God." This is a quote straight from the good Mr. Gruffyd himself. It reminded me of Martin Luther King Junior’s speech.

You can disagree with a family member and still be respectful and have respect for him/her.  Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, but as long as it is addressed in love and respect, it can prevent the family from being torn apart.

1 comment:

  1. "With strength goes responsibility..." obviously Spiderman watched this movie.