The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Director: John Ford
Writers: Nunnally Johnson (screen play), John Steinbeck (based on the novel by)
Stars: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine
A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.
I have to admit, I wasn’t really enthusiastic when I had to review this one. Maybe because it’s old, or maybe because I read the book. Don’t get me wrong, John Steinbeck is an amazing author and the novel is a masterpiece. Maybe his greatest work. But it takes its time, taking things slow. And the same can be said about the movie.
The Grapes of Wrath tells the story of Tom, from the moment he is released from prison and his way back home in Oklahoma. Once arrived, Tom finds his family and all of the land in drought and poverty. Deciding that there is no future for them in the area, Tom and all of his family pack their lives and prepare to move to California, a land full of promise for a better future. The long road is full of hardship and it takes its toll, with the elderly grandfather not making it. Once arrived in California, they realize that the “promised land” is not full of honey and that life can be harder than they could have expected.
I’m not really sure how I feel about this film. In every aspect it is a masterpiece. But it has a dark subject and is not an entertaining experience. The fact that it is filmed in black and white only adds to the feeling of desperation and sadness of the human life in the Great Depression. It can be viewed not as an entertaining picture, but as an educational movie of all the suffering and despair that the people endured during that age, where food, a roof above the head and even a shower were luxuries that people could not afford.