The Best Years of Our Lives, based on a novel by MacKinlay Kantor
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
The Best Years of Our Lives is a magnificent work.
It is inspiring, offers role models, food for thought, lessons for life, Super heroes that are outstanding and positive.
It is included on two important lists, the first The New York Times ‘Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made and the second a popularity list:
The film won seven Academy Awards for:
- Best Picture, Best Director- William Wyler, Best Writing- Robert E. Sherwood, Best Actor in a Leading Role- Fredrich March and in a Supporting Role- Harold Russell.
- It also won the Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Picture
This is the meaningful story of three friends that have escaped the tragedy of the World War II and return home.
Fredrich March, winner of the Oscar for this movie plays Al Stephenson who comes home a sergeant and had been a banker before the war.
Harold Russell has won the Academy Award for his portrayal of Homer Parrish, but I do not see how this was Supporting and the other a Leading Role.
Actually, if it were up to me I would have reversed the prizes, for the difficulty of playing Homer was more evident.
- Homer comes home with no hands
- What is extraordinary is that the accident is practically the same for both character and the actor playing the part!!
The physical disability is coupled with psychological issues and what is generally called and used as diagnosis for servicemen returning from conflicts:
- PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which in some cases can be turned into PTG or Post Traumatic Growth
Homer is the most fascinating character of the film.
He shows strength, determination, resilience, courage, bravery, Will to Power -in the sense of willingness to overcome difficulty.
In the first place he is overwhelmed by the loss of his hands, the challenge of coping with the return home, the pity shown by most of those he encounters, when he wishes to be treated as a normal man.
But he is the epitome of the Übermensch, or perhaps the Superman, but not as we see him on the big screen today.
Even if he has trouble getting into his clothes and speaks about the fact that he is trapped, if the door is closed by a draft, he is ready to overcome all these.
After an initial understandable bout of depression and the anger that he feels at the bad deck of cards he has been given.
The third musketeer in this narrative has provocations of his own, as Fred Derry comes back as an officer to his unworthy wife.
She is very attractive but also attracted to men, material things and money, which are in very short supply now.
While still a serviceman, Fred had an income of $ 400 per month, which might be the equivalent of $ 4,000 today.
But he had had no experience as a soda clerk before the war and he has to accept a low position, paying much less- about $ 15 per week.
The wife is very materialistic and evidently not interested in her spouse, but in his position and money, which are both history now.
The opportunity may arise for a change and Fred meets Peggy, the daughter of his friend Al, who is provoked in his turn by his new position at the bank, in control of loans for returning soldiers and officers.
When Al approves a loan for a man with enthusiasm and a vision, the officials of the bank are upset on account of the lacking collateral.
This is a masterpiece.
It is a wonderful tale of redemption, character strengths, fighting the enormous difficulties in the case of Homer, but also that of his friends.