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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 4 | February 4, 2007|


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Masterpiece Movies

How Green Was My Valley

Shamma M. Raghib

Starring: Roddy McDowall, Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, Anna Lee, Donald Crisp, John Loder, Sara Allgood, Barry Fitzgerald, Patric Knowles
Written by: Philip Dunne, based on the novel by Richard Llewellyn
Directed by: John Ford
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 118 minutes
Campus Rating: 9.3/10

Last night was the first time I ever saw this film, and I was blown away by it.

It's possibly one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen - visually, verbally and in terms of the story. The great colorful cast makes it an even wonderful movie to watch.

The Morgans are a family of six sons and a daughter living in a Welsh mining town during the Industrial Revolution, and this film is the story of their lives, their way of life and the transformation of their valley as a result of the changing times - all seen through the eyes of Huw, the youngest son, played by twelve-year-old Roddy McDowall in his first American movie. The family was in mining business, but as time went on, the coal slag started to blacken the hillside, both literally and metaphorically. Managers cut wages at the mine because nearby factories were shutting down. A glut of workers came into the countryside, willing to work cheap. The unionized coal miners went on strike for better wages, which split both the town, and the Morgan family, into two factions. With nowhere to go, and with resentment in their hearts, the striking workers roamed the town in dangerous packs. It was up-to little Toddy to change things in his own school, and slowly through a series of events he starts to defend himself and fight for his own survival.

In a parallel story, the new preacher (Walter Pidgeon) tries to put down some roots in the town. He befriends Huw, sick in bed; he joins the townsfolk in their famed singing; and he courts Huw's older sister. But as time goes by, the church elders, all from the older generation, find reasons to dislike him and his new, liberal ideas.

In this bleak picture of paradise crumbling, the only happy ending is growing old enough to reminisce about the good old days, when the valley was green and life was good. Young Roddy McDowall gives an amazingly innate performance. And the age-old flowery romance still brings back the tears. In the end, the philosophy behind the movie may sound harsh and fatalistic, but its sentiment and reflection is genuine and heartfelt. Personally, something like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, this should be in your classic corners for times to come!



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