What I watched: How Green Was My Valley (1941)
How I watched it: library-rented DVD
Synopsis: The youngest son of a Welsh mining family narrates the struggles and changes his family and town face at the turn of the century.
Why I watched: This is another film from the 1001 films list that I knew nothing about prior.
Notes: This film was more bitter than sweet but I found myself quite liking it.
The plot of the film is never quite as sad as you think it’s going to be, but there’s a deep nostalgia that the film creates which is sadder the more you think about it. There is a sense in the beginning of the film that everything is so happy and gay that it can only get worse, and this looms over even the happiest of occasions.
I thought the performance of the father (Donald Crisp) was wonderful and worthwhile, even when the main character, the boy who narrates the film (Roddy McDowall) was quite frustrating.
I also loved the scenes when members of the family would call out to each other in a very sing-song fashion. This opens the film; the boy calls out to his sister from in the valley, and in a way closes the film; the boy calls out to his father who has been trapped in the mines. In fact the sing-song nature of the call in the latter scene is striking because of the seriousness of the situation, that it must be a tie to that earlier scene.
The film is a bit sad to watch, but I probably would watch it again, it certainly has grown on me since watching it.