How Green Was My Valley (1941)
Directed by John Ford
My family’s favorite film of all time.
I once asked a friend of mine, a scholar of film, whether any director in our time could have directed How Green Was My Valley. He said that no director other than John Ford could have done even two minutes of it. It is so profoundly lyrical, so human, saying so much in the fine narrative voice that sets up the scenes, so much in the crisp dialogue, but always more, far more, in a look in the eyes, a motion of the hand. It is a film in which the terrible work of sin, in its forms as hardness of heart, avarice, and a willingness to believe the worst of others, slowly corrodes and ruins a small coal-mining village in Wales, the green valley of the title — both of the film and of the autobiographical book by Richard Llewellyn, the film’s source. And yet the prime mover of the film is not anger or sadness, but gratitude, and a solemn joy that does not fear sadness, loss, and death. “Men like my father can never die,” says the narrator Huw Mo…
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