Mrs. Miniver (1942)

DailyView: Day 333, Movie 476

With the Academy Awards tonight, I decided that I would go about a week with watching some of the Academy Award winning films (mostly Best Picture winners) that I have not yet watched. There were quite a few on the list that I had never seen. I decided to start with one that I had seen discussed on Twitter a week or so ago and that I then rented on Vudu. It is the 1942 British classic Mrs. Miniver.

I was unaware of this movie before I saw the discussion on Twitter about it and I was fascinated by the concept. I was going to watch it before I knew it was an Oscar winner, but it fit right in with this week’s DailyView theme.

Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson) is our lead character and a part of a middle class family in England around the start of World War II. She was married to Clem Miniver (Walter Pidgeon) and had several children, including a grown boy named Vin (Richard Ney). A local man, Mr. Ballard (Henry Travers) created a rose and named it “Mrs. Miniver” and planned on entering it into the local flower competition against the roses of Lady Beldon (May Whitty), the grandmother of Carol (Teresa Wright), the young lady that Vin was courting before he left to join the British Air Force.

If that recap is a bit disjointed, then you understand what the narrative of the film was like. It was more like a series of scenes or vignettes strung together all about the family of the Minivers, instead of a continuous storyline. Despite this unlikely narrative structure, the film really works well. This type of structure fit into the chaotic time in history that Mrs. Miniver took place within.

The film was made in the middle of World War II and used references/scenes including historical moments such as Dunkirk. A German (they do not use the term Nazi) pilot was shot down and came to Mrs. Miniver’s house. The air raids across London during this time really emphasized the terror and the fright being committed against the Brits.

There was some criticism of the film that it was nothing more than a piece of wartime propaganda, but the quality of the movie overcame any questions there may have been about it.

There were some wonderful performances, especially Greer Garson as Mrs. Miniver. She did win an Academy Award for the Best Actress for her role. Garson had the gamut of emotions to play throughout the film as each vignette brought about a new circumstance for the character to dive into. It included easier moments such as rose contests to huddling with her loved ones during an air raid attack.

It is a deserving Academy Award winner and I am glad I got the chance to see it.

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