Great Moments In Film – The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
The Best Years of Our Lives is one of the best mover ever. Made soon after the end of the second World War (which director William Wyler had first hand experience in), it follows three servicemen on their way home from the war. All three have to overcome adjusting back to civilian life (including one who lost his hands). It’s not very easy, especially when surrounded by people who don’t understand the things they saw and went through (even though most of the supporting characters WANT to try to help, they just can’t).
Interestingly enough, the one that takes the longest to recover is Fred (Dana Andrews), who seemingly was the one had it together the best upon arrival. While Homer (Harold Russell) understandably felt alienated and angry over the loss of his hands and Al (Fredric March) resorts to alcohol, they both ultimately have strong families/loved ones to help see them through. Alternatively, Fred has a wife who just doesn’t care and only wants to go out to nightclubs. He’s been through things that no person should have to endure and he’s all alone while dealing his nightmares. A clear cut example of shellshock.
This is a pivotal moment in the movie where Fred goes to exorcise his demons. We see a graveyard for planes: discarded instruments of war. There seems to be a countless number of them. It’s an obvious parallel to the returning troops, something we still struggle with in present day America. Most of it speaks for itself, but it does cut to Fred’s parents where they finally learn what Fred had done during the war (he wouldn’t speak of it). He’s actually considered a hero for the military, but that doesn’t help with the shock that he struggles with every day (and night).
Hope you all enjoy it.
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