The other evening I noticed that Mrs. Miniver was on Turner Classic Movies. While I enjoy TCM the problem for me is I can get caught up all night transfixed by that channel. The great commentary, and great movies they feature, without commercial interruption, make it a great find for anyone who loves classic movies. Mrs. Miniver won the best picture Oscar as well as Oscars for William Wyler, Greer Garson and Teresa Wright (supporting) and two others.
Robert Osborne introduced the movie (as he often does) with some background on the film itself. One thing that stood out in my mind was his comment that this film (released in 1942) basically taught American's how to live in the time of war.
The story of the Miniver's was one of a comfortable English family before and during the war. What I didn't expect was how taken by the movie, direction and performances I was. So often films of a certain time can appear, or at least seem, dated. Stories that may be timeless themselves are told from a current time perspective that makes them a little...well hard to digest completely. Not so with Mrs. Miniver.
I found myself in tears more than once, not for anything necessarily dramatic, but for the subtle changes that occurred to the characters and the knowledge that those changes were mirrored in life by people across the globe during the second world war.
Then, of course, I couldn't help but think about our own Pearl Harbor. And Pearl Harbor made me think of 9/11. I remember thinking, on that day, that we were under attack. In fact the voice messages on my answering machine from friends back east would say exactly that.
First New York, then Washington, then Pennsylvania. Then news reports that some planes were still "missing" and presumed to be headed out west.
I remember thinking that there was no safe place in the country. Those coordinated suicide attacks left me with the feeling that the world had forever changed. And I think it probably has. But it did also for those who lived through, or survived the Pearl Harbor attack.
On September 12 of 2001 I recall wondering if what it is I was feeling on that day was similar to what those experienced on December 8 of 1941. Their future was unknown. They were at war and the outcome was far from certain.
On 9/12 I had the same worries. Then I thought to myself how would I feel some ten or twenty years down the road. Will we survive as our parents and grandparents did after the Hawaii attack. And then I watched this movie.
Released as America was entering the second World War it must have been scary and unnerving to watch. but it must also have been comforting. Because if there is one message from this movie, it is that life goes on. Maybe it's that life MUST go on. And even though they faced an uncertain future. They lived their lives with as much normalcy as they possibly could.
And while I sat watching, and crying, and enjoying the benefit of seeing story unfold with 68 years perspective; I also wondered how people were dealing with the looming aftermath of 9/11.
I guess it's enough to say that we have to look forward. We have to work together and we have to live our lives as best we can. Sure our future is uncertain. But look what great things have happened in the last 68 years...for us, in this time, the future can be just as bright.