Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum and sees THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)

This was a special event put on by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) as part of their One Book, One Community reading of Steinbeck's fierce, political, and depressing classic The Grapes of Wrath. I'd read this a few years ago, and was very impressed (although East of Eden is still my favorite Steinbeck). But I had never seen the movie.

Well, in short the movie is fairly faithful to the book (and was made just six months after the book was released), which means it's awfully sad and depressing. The Joad family, led by recent parolee Tom Joad (Henry Fonda, nominated for an Oscar) and Ma Joad (Jane Darwell, who won the best supporting actress Oscar) leave the dust bowl of Oklahoma for the promise of work in California. Of course, this doesn't pan out, and they find similar economic forces that forced them out of Oklahoma are spoiling their chances in California. Plus, there's the added pressure of prejudice and hatred against the Okies that are taking jobs from locals.

You know, when I read it, the economy was still in good shape, so it seemed like just a sad, horrible patch in our history. Now, the themes in it (especially the unseen, greedy bankers controlling it all) resonate once more. I'm going to have to go back and re-read it.

Oh, and the ending is different than the book. Despite all the horrible stuff that happens, they just had to end the movie on a proud, hopeful note.

Running Time: 129 minutes
My Total Minutes: 261,182
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