John Ford?s masterpiece [i]How Green Was My Valley[/i] (a personal favourite of his) depicts the life and times of the Morgan family in a Welsh mining-town, through the recollections of the youngest child Huw, now a sixty year old man now bidding farewell to the town he grew up in and breathes vivid memories of. The film is a human drama that presents a community on the verge of dying, now living and fighting against an uncertain future the only way they know. The film strikingly shows the line between the value of tradition, the need for progress and how society handles it. It is an epic but intimate tale of love, life, death, family, religion and society.
The film fills its absorbing two hour runtime with a vast and rich thematic palette. The film is not one note or overly dreary, as would probably be the case had it been made by anyone but Ford. The film is full of life?s humour, sadness, glory and tragedy. Not a scene is wasted or uninspired. Ford's masterful direction and Arthur Miller's beautiful cinematography create a perfectly stark, and frequently beautiful, artistic representation of a Welsh village at the turn of the century. Ford's affection towards the dying culture is clearly evident. The acting is terrific too; Donald Crisp?s portrayal as the father is one of my all time favourites, Roddy McDowall?s performance is certainly among the elite of child performance?s and several of Hollywood?s finest character actors (including Ford regular Barry Fitzgerald) add a lot of colour to the film. [i]How Green Was My Valley[/i] is a haunting and beautiful film. One of the greatest films Hollywood has ever produced and the finest example of Ford?s unique visual poetry.