From Here to Eternity

Movie review by
Carly Kocurek, Common Sense Media
From Here to Eternity Movie Poster Image
Classic characters fight, drink, smoke, and have affairs.
  • NR
  • 1953
  • 118 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

This film sets high standards for loyalty, courage, and patriotism. The people who live up to those standards are deemed heroic and noble.

Positive role models & representations

Military personnel range from evil to divine and touch on everyone in between. Typical to the period, women are portrayed only as subsidiary, romantic partners used to move the male stories forward.

Violence

Several intense fist fights, a struggle using a knife and a broken bottle, and a second knife fight during which one of the combatants is killed off camera. Another character dies after a severe off-camera beating. Given the scope of the action, relatively little blood is spilled and severe injuries are not shown. Scenes, including some newsreel footage, of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is limited in scope and takes up only the last 10 minutes of the film: machine guns and rifles are fired; airplanes strafe the military compound, bombs drop, and some bodies fall to the ground.

Sex

Though this 1953 film contains perhaps the most famous screen kiss of all time -– Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in a passionate embrace on a sandy beach as the tide rolls over them- – it’s actually tame by today’s standards. The kiss lasts a few seconds and then the camera cuts away. Two intensely romantic relationships build strongly and result in scenes of ardent kissing. Everything else, including adultery, is hinted at or discussed, but not seen.

Language

There are a number of ethnic slurs: “wop” and “Japs.” No swearing or obscenities.

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Multiple scenes of drinking and drunkenness. The soldiers drink heavily while not on duty and most of the major characters bond while inebriated. Cigarette smoking is pervasive.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that by modern standards of sexuality, language, and violence, this classic film would not be considered objectionable, however, it still contains highly intense situations, including the mistreatment and death of some of its strongest and most likeable characters. There are multiple scenes of bullying, fist fights, and knife fights, though none is bloody or gory. Even the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is only moderately violent. Airplanes strafe the military compound in wide shots; rifles, machine guns and artillery are used to fight back, but very little in the way of “hits” or aftermath is seen. Sexuality is limited to passionate kissing, embracing and references to adulterous behavior. There is a great deal of drinking, drunkenness, and smoking throughout; in almost all instances it is seen as acceptable behavior given the time (1941) and place (a military compound in Hawaii).

User Reviews

Parent Written bymrkniceguy April 9, 2008

Felt a little sick

This film was highly acclaimed and recommended. But I wish it hadn't been. The acting is superb (Frank Sinatra is great!) but the content left me feeling u... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBestPicture1996 September 20, 2009

Heavy topics make good Best Picture-winner

It had very good acting, and you felt for the characters at the end, which is always essential for me if a movie is going to grab my attention. A lot of people... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bywho3697cares November 8, 2009
It might not be as good as the novel, but on its own this movie is very excellent, and the cast is simply superb.

What's the story?

War is hell. Being stationed in Hawaii directly before a war, however, is not hell. If FROM HERE TO ETERNITY is remotely accurate, Hawaii in the 1940s was a pretty hot scene -- the drinks were cold, the passions were high, and the ladies were at least as lovely as the scenery. The star-studded ensemble piece follows several plots. Frank Sinatra plays the rebellious Pvt. Angelo Maggio. Montgomery Clift plays Pvt. Robert E. Lee "Prew" Prewitt, a former bugler who romances Alma Burk (Donna Reed) and undergoes hazing as his peers try to force him into a boxing match. Deborah Kerr gives an icy hot performance as Karen Holmes, neglected wife of Capt. Dana "Dynamite" Holmes (Philip Ober).

Is it any good?

This film is not a work of feel-good boosterism; instead it's a collection of human dramas set against the backdrop of a Hawaiian U.S. Army base in the days leading up to Pearl Harbor. As the characters fight, drink, smoke, begin and end affairs, they act in ways that are familiar and easy to relate to.

The direction of Fred Zinnemann helped sculpt the movie, which won eight Oscars, many for the exceptionally talented cast. This is one of those movies that everyone should see, even if it's not their preferred style or genre, simply because the film is so heavily referenced in mass culture. A steamy scene of Karen Holmes kissing Milton Warden on the beach is particularly resonant. And, though the pacing of the movie might be difficult for younger viewers, From Here to Eternity is overall captivating.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about issues of class raised by the officer/enlisted man hierarchy as well as Alma's story of being romantically rejected because she wasn't a "proper" wife. How are issues of class visible in the military setting? How do these issues affect romances and other plot lines?

  • Another topic for discussion is Prewitt's refusal to box. Prewitt explains his refusal to the other men, but they refuse to listen. Did Prewitt have any better options for addressing this issue?

  • What do you notice about the difference between modern movies and classics like this one? How have times changed? How are cultural changes reflected in film?

Movie details

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