October 15, 2012
"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" Elia Kazan's first film as a director. I don't regard this as Kazan's best film. "East of Eden" or "Splendor in the Grass" would better fill that catagory. "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" much like "To Kill a Mockingbird" is the story of a young girl who later grows up to be a novelist who is given an understanding of the value of life by her relationship to her father. Scout in "Mockingbird" learns through Aticus that it is more important to take a stand for social justice than to simply give in to social pressures. Franci Nolan in "A Tree" gives his daughter the inspiration to imagine what could be. At Jonny Nolans it funeral it turns out that he gave that hope & inspiration to a great many other people besides Franci.
My favourate director was John Ford. The first fim I saw of Ford was "Stagecoach" when I was 5 yrs. old. It was the first time that I became aware that a film could be more than entertainment, but still be entertaining. The story is totally concerned with the ramifcations of bigotry & preudice. Virtually everyone on the stage is a social outcast of one sort or another except Lucy Mallory who is traveling to Lordberg to join her husband who is a cavalry officer. Even Lucy in the end has to turn her back on the woman who has befriended her in order to blend in with the society of Lordsberg. Even Geronimo & his band, the enemy of the passingers of the stage is not depicted as the personification of evil. When Ford has his cameraman Bert Glennon pan the camera to the hillside where the Apaches are watching the progress of the stage across the valley, the indians appear as a natural part of the landscape & that they are only doing what they have to do to try to preserve their way of life.
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I regard film as an art form. If a film is mearly entertainment, I feel the audience has been insulted. Entertainment is relating to another person as though they are retarded. The audience wants to have their minds & emotions engaged in an entertaining manner, they don't want to be bored. However there's a big gulf between presenting a story in an engaging fashion and on the other hand suggesting that they are mentally deficient.
Great films like great literature allow you to experience life from a different perspective. It's in a sence the road not taken. It has the ability to show us how we are all much more alike than different and promotes understanding as opposed to bigotry & preudice.
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