How Green Was My Valley

How Green Was My Valley

It makes me think of so much that is good, that is gone.

If I were to make a list of the most pretentious movie titles I could think of, How Green Was My Valley would be at or near the top of the list. Directed by the consummate John Ford, this tale of a humble family living in a Welsh mining town evidently had a lot going for it, what with the slew of awards it won, including Best Picture. Indeed, the film has a lot going for it, but whether it really needs to have it all is a question up for debate.

Funny, having seen this so soon after The English Patient, as I would consider this a premier example of classical Oscar bait, as opposed to more modern fare. The story is sweeping and grand in scale, encompassing a family living through the ages in a community that endures through time; typically epic in grandeur as well as in the production value. Aside from the heavy stigma of Oscar bait, this is a very well done film; the acting is excellent throughout, the script is rather tight but solid, even if it is heavy on setting and keeping the pervasive mood. Still, even with the high quality of the film, like The English Patient there is a feeling of self-serving to it, like the film is just putting on such airs to ensure it wins accolades; it may not be at the forefront of the mind of the film, but it’s there somewhere in the background, ever lurking just enough to push the film that much forward.

There’s the requisite love story, the young ingénue (in the form of little Huw) who loses his innocence along the journey, the stern father, caring and strong mother, a focus on music (with the villagers singing rather than a swooning score, though the score is still there), and all the rest of the stock elements of the ultimate Academy film. I don’t mean to downplay or denigrate the film because of all this; I merely mean to let you know what to expect of this film beforehand based on what I got from it, and what I got was that while the film is good and certainly watchable, it was visibly trying to be a prime cut of cinema, so to speak, and I could see it all over this one. Hopefully, you’ll like this enough to be able to look past this, but for me, it was like driving with the sun in your eyes the whole time.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10


7 thoughts on “How Green Was My Valley

  1. My feelings exactly. It’s not so much that it’s not a good film, but that it’s so completely expected. There were moments where I felt like saying, “Well, here comes [insert plot element].”


    The thing that actually bugged me the most about this film was the very end when he is leaving. After waxing rhapsodic for the entire movie about how wonderful it was there, then why the heck was he leaving and where was he going?


      I think you’re a little confused; the end is when the mine collapses and Huw drags his father’s body out after he dies in Huw’s arms. Unless you mean Mr. Gruffydd, who leaves after all the whispers about him and Angharad threaten his position and he calls out the whole procession for being religious hypocrites, in probably my favorite speech in the whole film. The narrator, I took, was supposed to be an elder Huw, not the preacher.

      • Yes, the narrator was an older Huw. It’s him that is leaving at the very end – after just getting done telling us this story. He says he is never going to return.

        • Huh; the movie itself doesn’t show him leaving at all, IIRC; there’s a montage of his moments in the village after the whole mine rescue, but nothing to indicate that he was leaving. If he said he was gonna do so, I must have missed it.

          • You had me beginning to doubt, so I popped the movie in. It’s the very opening lines of narration. It shows a man’s hands packing, while we hear the narrator (older Huw) saying how he is leaving to never return and he remembers his 50 years in the valley. It then goes into the flashback.

            • Ah, ok; I was looking near the end of the movie, I didn’t even think to check the beginning. Funny how they don’t return to that at all.

              Now that you mention it, that is kinda weird.

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