1942’s Best Picture winner, Mrs. Miniver, tells a heartfelt story of an English family effected deeply by WWII. From blackout drills to avoid German bombs to participating in the civilian rescue at Dunkirk, Mrs. Miniver is fine-tuned William Wyler film.
Greer Garson, in her Oscar-winning turn as Kay Miniver, is the mother to three children in the fictional English village of Belham. The oldest, Vin, has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, to say the least, about all things– British class strife, his intellect, and the fallibilty of fellow townspeople. To that end, when war is officially declared, Vin enlists in the Air Force, confident in his duties.
What ensues is a powerful look at the daily devastation and stress the community feels. Watching the film again, during a “shelter in place” order caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes the events in Mrs. Miniver feel a bit familiar. While hunkered down in their bomb shelter, the Miniver’s youngest asks “Is the war over?” when the commotion stops. A month of self-quaratining makes a person ask, “Is it over?” Seeing the Minivers live amidst the rubble and wounds to their home after a night of severe bombing makes one’s issues with wearing a mask in public seem trivial. Unfortunately, one common denominator between both situations is that the Minivers and the world at this moment are all trying to survive, desperate not to die.
In the film’s incredibly moving end, Belham’s residents come together to attend church, albeit in a nearly destroyed house of worship. As the camera turns to the altar, revealing the air and sky above, the audience understands the sacrifice and strength of this fictional family and all of the families, for which World War II was no imaginative tale.
Mrs. Miniver (1942) 134 minutes. Dir. William Wyler. Starring Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright, Henry Travers.