Starring: Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright
Director: William Wyler
Running Time: 133 mins
Mrs. Miniver is an American film about a family living in a small English village whose lives are turned upside down by the outbreak of the Second World War.
This film is simply brilliant. It’s a fascinating, exciting and most importantly realistic and powerful depiction of civilian life during World War Two. The story itself may be fictional, but through its wide range of characters and situations, it gives you a clear idea about how anyone and everyone was devastated by the outbreak of war in 1939, filled with huge emotional power and drama at every moment.
One thing that really makes this film stand out to me above so many war films is how gritty it is. Sure, it also looks at the charming inhabitants of a rural English village, but in comparison to the triumphant war films of the 1950s and 60s, Mrs. Miniver, having been made right in the thick of the Second World War, has an incredible level of realism that makes it so impressive.
In a sense, it’s comparable to films like Rome, Open City, given its contemporary perspective on the war. Mrs. Miniver definitely has a more studio-esque production, but the most striking thing about it lies within its ethos. In the midst of the war, when it seemed like the Allies had no hope, it recognises the possibility of losing in a sombre way, whilst quietly retaining hope and spirit through the people of Britain doing all they can to help the war effort.
And this is where director William Wyler comes in. He does such an amazing job in this film, as he expertly balances the wider context of the Second World War with a deeply personal story about the Miniver family. The film’s final note is definitely oriented towards war morale, but what Wyler does so well is allow the personal story to be told just as well.
So, across the 133-minute runtime, we become closely attached to the Miniver family, fearing for them in times of distress, and cheering them on when they succeed. It’s an expertly-written and directed film, and one that will have you going through a rollercoaster of emotions despite never leaving this small English village.
Finally, the performances here are excellent. At the centre of it all, Greer Garson is absolute dynamite as Mrs. Miniver, and she delivers a charismatic and strong-willed performance that makes her character a brilliant wartime hero. However, the film is about all the members of their family, and supporting players like Walter Pidgeon, Richard Ney and Teresa Wright all bring a brilliant range to the film, allowing you to care strongly about each individual person whilst remaining just as concerned about the wider cause.
Overall, Mrs. Miniver is a truly stunning wartime classic. With its contemporary realism and drama, it’s a hugely powerful and enthralling story with excellent directing, writing and performances, all of which come together to make Mrs. Miniver an absolute must-see of wartime cinema, and that’s why it gets an 8.4 from me.
For Nana. Thank you for all the best recommendations and everything else. LLAP!