Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – Mrs Miniver (1942)

Starring Greer Garson & Walter Pidgeon

Rating 8/10

Mrs Miniver is a film of its time. It is about war in a time of war, tapping into the heart of people under attack. This delightful movie handles the horrors of war with humour, heart and humanity.

The Minivers are wealthy Londoners living on the brink of the second great war. They have a peaceful and happy home with a guilty passion for ‘things’. Clem and Kay are the parents, then there’s Vin (back home from college), Toby  (4 ish) and Judy (6 ish). With war once again on the cards, the people distract themselves with battles over roses and the rights of the upper class. England is entering a new day, whether it wants to or not.

War hits home, bomb shelters are built, boys go off to war and life goes on, though not exactly as it was. You can smell death in the air as Vin proposes to his beloved Carol and flies off to battle and Clem boats out to Dunkirk. Kay finds a German soldier hiding in her garden and swiftly disposes of him as the kids sleep upstairs. Then the raids begin in earnest. Buildings are damaged and the lives of this tight-knit family are changed forever.

I loved this film, especially the Miniver family. Clem and Kay are beautiful together and Toby is a cheeky little star. Vin is so-so but together they embody the western dream of success. They are truly happy but not unrealistically. Throughout all the trauma and uncertainty of war, they stick together and dare to enjoy life. It must have been all too real for the audience of the 1940’s. Perhaps that is why it was mostly upbeat. However, there were times of serious reflection about war, the why’s and the stark reality of death. It must have been a healing film to watch in those dreadful days.

The air-raid shelter scene is particularly confronting. Bombs are falling all around the family as they huddle in their Anderson shelter. The kids are screaming, the door flies open and the bombs keep coming. The parents admirably keep their cool and protect their family as best they can.

The final scene is another pearler. It is in the bombed out church where the minister gives a beautiful speech questioning war and the reasons behind the deaths of so many innocent people. He concludes that it is not the army’s war but the people’s war, fighting for freedom from tyranny. The scene ends with a rousing rendition of ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ as planes fly above their heads.

This is one moving film, though it is not  too distressing to watch. You walk with this delightful family through their worst days but come out feeling like things will look up, they will get through this and be better for it. A powerful message.

Mrs Miniver Trivia –

  • Budget – $1,344,000
  • Shortly after filming finished, Greer Garson married Richard Ney who played her son in the film. Yes, it is a bit creepy watching the movie, knowing this. She was 11 years older than him and the marriage lasted only 4 years.
  • Greer also won Best Actress for Mrs Miniver – she was fantastic in this film and really deserved the award.
  • The speech by the reverend in the last scene was so inspirational that it was translated, printed out and dropped over German-occupied Europe.
  • The director, William Wyler, admitted that Mrs Miniver was made for propaganda purposes.
  • The Miniver Story, the sequel to this cracker, was made in 1950. It featured the original cast and the story begins on Victory in Europe Day, the end of the war. Whatever happens to them? May have to take a look.

Thank you Mrs Miniver for your stirring story. Next time, we are looking at the classic of all classic films, Casablanca, starring you know who with the other guy (that is Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart).

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