Similarly to Ulysses and the Color Purple, I have read the Grapes of Wrath and so I was curious as to what the movie adaptation was like.
What’s it about? The Grapes of Wrath has a very a simple narrative. Set during the American 1930’s Great Depression, the Joad family leave their home in Oklahoma, after the bank forecloses their land and they travel to California in the hopes of work and a better life. The family is led by the eldest son Tom Joad who has recently been paroled from prison.
The Good: Whilst I don’t particularly remember the book that well, there were a couple of scenes that stood out to me. Firstly, there is Grandfather Joad who is desperate not to leave his home and travel to California with the rest of his family. The only way they can get him to leave is by getting him drunk and he dies soon into the journey. This has a knock-on effect for his wife who dies shortly afterwards. Secondly, a neighbouring family, the Mulens, are told that there land will be foreclosed and looking for someone to blame, they threatened to shoot their banker and then his manager and then the board of directors and so and so forth. Both of these scenes were portrayed well in the film and are extremely powerful. They demonstrated the sheer fear, panic and desperation that the Great Depression brought on. Also, even though the Joad family is large in twelve characters, I felt that I knew them all well and I wasn’t confused about which member was which. Each of them had their own little characteristics that distinguished them from each other.
The Bad: Similarly, to the book, I wasn’t fully engrossed throughout the film and I did lose interest from time to time. For example, when the family reached California and enter a labour camp, I got a little bored, but the reintroduction of the preacher character Jim Casey remedied this.
The Ugly: Grandpa Joad’s reluctance to leave his home was a very powerful reminder of the importance of home to some people. It was very emotional watching his impassioned pleas to stay.
Originally, I was going to rate the film ‘good,’ but in reviewing it, I don’t think the film had enough bad points to truly warrant that. Granted, it might not have been 100% interesting, but it was a powerful portrayl of people’s loyalty to their homes and families. Tom Joad might have been a rebel, but he certainly had a cause.