Pros:Acting, Directing, Writing
Cons:Length makes it not as appealing to younger audiences.
The Bottom Line: The Best Years of Our Lives is one of the best movies of all time. It gives a true look at the lives of veterans upon returning from war.
Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
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The Best Years of Our Lives is a film based on an article about three World War 2 veterans and the problems and hardships they face upon returning to their hometown, Boone City and stars Fredric March, Harold Russell, and Dana Andrews. The film was released in 1946, which was only a year after the Second World War. The film takes a different approach on the war than most war films made currently. Instead of focusing on the glitz and glamour of returning as heroes, The Best Years of Our Lives focuses on the psychological, physical, and emotional problems the veterans face upon returning home.
The film revolves around the lives of three veterans as they return home after World War 2. During the war Homer, played by Harold Russell, loses his arms when his ship is blown up. Even though Homer is the only one with physical problems from the war, each man has physiological problems that they confront immediately upon returning home. As the film starts we meet the families of the three men. Each family responds differently to the return of the veteran. Homer tries to hide his abnormality from his parents and fiancée. We get a really clear picture of the problems hes going to face when he cant put his arms around his fiancée. As we meet the other families it becomes clear that the veterans lives have been changed tremendously by the war. As the film progresses the Fred, played by Dana Andrews, cant find a job that he likes. This poses a problem with his wife because she loves to spend money. His marriage falls apart and everything looks gloom for him. Everything turns around in the end and he falls in love with the daughter of Al, played by Teresa White.
The Best Years of Our Lives touches the viewer in a number of ways. During the beginning of the movie when the veterans come home the viewer feels a strong sense of sadness for Homer because of his disability. As the movie progresses, many more emotions come into play. During the scene with Fred and Peggy, there is a strong feeling of mutual attraction between the two characters. This is further expressed when Fred kisses Peggy. The most emotional scene in the movie would have to be the scene between Homer and Wilma. In this scene Homer confronts the fear that Wilma wont want to marry him since he doesnt have any arms. As the scene progresses, we realize that Wilma loves Homer and cares not about the prosthetic hooks he has for arms and in the end Homer and Wilma end up getting married in yet another very touching scene.
This film has some things in it that wouldnt have been considered ethical at the time because they werent prevalent in society. One such topic is divorce. Fred and Marie dont know each other enough; which inevitably ends up causing them to have to divorce. At that point in the movie, it seems that Freds life, as he knows it is over because he cant hold a job, his wife left him, and hes still haunted by the war. During the scene with Homer and Fred in the drug store also raises more issues about ethics. Fred hits a customer because he believes that the war wasnt worth it and we should have fought the Russians. This attack inevitably got him fired from his job. Even with a few unethical actions, the film does have a good lesson to it. The scene with Homer and Wilma in his bedroom where she tells him that she loves him even though he doesnt have arms.
In my opinion the film was told on a level that is understandable to most everyone. There arent many times in the movie when the action, or dialogue isnt understandable. The film has been named one of the best films ever, and with its understandable, and enthralling story it is apparent why. The only way the film could have been more understandable is if the writers wouldnt of used abbreviations for things such as aircraft carrier by saying CV. Overall though the film was understandable, especially for the period of time, and events that it discussed.
I personally believe that everyone should watch this movie because it really is one of the best movies of all time. I cant really recommend the movie to younger teens because of the mature content of the movie and because they wouldnt get the full meaning of the movie. The movie would most likely be enjoyable to someone who likes war movies, dramas, romantic movies, or just a good film. When I say good, I dont mean that the film is entertaining, even though it is. By good I mean that it edifies the human condition, which means that it makes the viewer see what life is really like for veterans who are returning home from a war.
Overall, The Best Years of Our Lives was a very good film. It doesnt give you the cheerful side of the returning veterans, but gives the hard truth. The movie has great scenes causing different emotions among the audience and makes sense to most age groups. The Best Years of Our Lives is one of, if not the best movie of all time.
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Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older