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Last week, I reviewed the most recent Maisie Dobbs book, set during the London Blitz, The American Agent. Heather reviewed The Extraordinaries Series, books that combine history, fantasy, and romance. Tina enjoyed the family drama book, Mum and Dad by Joanna Trollope. Jean, like me, enjoyed an escape into WWII Britain at our present moment: The Castle on the Hill by Elizabeth Goudge.
This is at least the third time I’ve seen the movie.
The first time, I was in my twenties and I remember leaving the theater with the desire to sign up to fight World War II. That impulse was 50 years too late. It was also a big blow to my identity as a young pacifist.
The second time, I was probably a decade older and I remember wondering if the prior knowledge that this was excellent war propaganda would reduce its impact. The answer, then, was not by much.
For the third time, now in my fifties, I was relieved to discover that I finally got smart enough to see through the war propaganda. In a way, that makes me like the movie even more since I can quit feeling guilty about how it makes me feel.
I still enjoy the film because it shows strong women, particularly three characters.
Greer Carson won the Academy Award for Best Actress for playing Mrs. Miniver, a wife and mother who starts the film buying a hat, but whose life is soon changed by the war. Being British and a woman, she naturally stands up for each new role that is asked of her.
Carol Belden, played by Teresa Wright (who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress), is the love interest of Mrs. Miniver’s son, Vin. The early scenes between Carol and Vin are amusing encounters because Carol holds her own against his college-induced idealism.
Dame May Whitty played Carol’s grandmother, Lady Beldon. Downton Abbey fans will recognize inspiration for the Dowager Lady Grantham and an entire plot sequence that Downton Abbey stole. More generously, I suppose, we can see it as an homage to Mrs. Miniver.
The film fails as war propaganda, oddly, because it’s about strong women. It attempts to make the case that the enemy will kill women and children, without acknowledging that our side will, too. In the process, it seems to claim that women are defenseless, even as Mrs. Miniver proves that women have many defenses.
Have you seen Mrs. Miniver? What did you think?