The Best Years of Our Lives starts off with a literal emotional hook that maintains through the movie. To me, that's what makes this movie work. The emotions. It never goes over the top with them.
The events that happen affect the characters and their lives. They feel happy. They feel sad. They feel angry. Excited. Love. Hate. And the situations change their lives. But nothing is ever a tragic life or death situation. Nobody is going through an emotional breakdown because of what they experience. Instead of an emotional roller coaster, it feels... like real life. And that's so appropriate because these guys had been facing real life or death situations in World War II.
Of course, many great works of art are all about taking emotions to the extreme. That's what we often love about movies and books and TV shows. We often see that in slice of life type films, and sometimes it works. The Best Years of Our Lives isn't a slice of life movie. It isn't extreme. But it works.
Does it still hold up today? Some of the acting still feels very old fashioned and it's a bit too long. I think these two things might stop a younger audience from trying to like it. I believe it holds up much better than most of the movies I've watched in this project.
When I first watched this back in 2001 for the AFI list, I wrote that I planned to watch this again soon. I'm sorry it has taken me almost sixteen years to get to it, and I hope it won't be another sixteen.
NEXT WEEK: 1948 - Gentleman's Agreement
Oscar Project Rankings:
- It Happened One Night (1935)
- The Best Years of Our Lives (1947)
- All Quiet on the Western Front (1931)
- Rebecca (1941)
- Mutiny on the Bounty (1936)
- You Can't Take It With You (1939)
- Gone With the Wind (1940)
- The Life of Emile Zola (1938)
- Grand Hotel (1933)
- Cimarron (1932)
- The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
- Broadway Melody (1930)
- The Lost Weekend (1946)
- Going My Way (1945)
- How Green Was My Valley (1942)
- Wings (1929)
- Mrs. Miniver (1943)
- Cavalcade (1934)