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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that How Green Was My Valley is a gentle, quiet, black-and-white 1941 masterpiece directed by John Ford. It's about a large family of Welsh miners at the turn of the last century, and it touches on many of life's ups and downs. Lots of positive messages and strong themes about family and community bonds, and about how people and places change over good times and bad. A few fist fights show bloodied faces afterward. A cruel teacher verbally bullies and beats a child with a cane. Some scariness from falling through ice and a mine collapse. Important characters die. The content is fine for all ages, but it's not likely to hold the interest of kids younger than tweens.
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What's the story?
Huw Morgan (Roddy McDowall) looks back on growing up in the late 1800s and early 1900s, remembering HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY before the years of mining coal took its toll on his family and his small town in Wales. Despite ups and downs, heartbreak and happiness, hardship and plenty, strong family ties see the Morgans through. Times change, loved ones sail to distant shores, and a young boy grows up treasuring the memories of the people and places dear to his heart.
Is it any good?
Legendary director John Ford's quiet, loving study of character, family, and community is a moving portrait of a place in time and the people who lived it. Ford's been widely reported as saying that How Green Was My Valley was his favorite film, and it's easy to see why. Wonderful performances from the large cast of colorful characters, a hauntingly beautiful landscape artfully photographed in black and white, and a moving, sentimental story with just the right touch of bittersweet make it a great family choice.
As wonderful as it is, it's not likely to attract or hold the interest of the younger kids. The slow, quiet pace, lots of singing (in Welsh), and adult issues like hardship, unionizing, loveless marriage, and religious hypocrisy will go over their heads. Tweens and up will enjoy seeing the story through young Huw (sounds like "Hugh") Morgan's eyes. Don't be surprised if you, and they, need to reach for a tissue a time or two as the bonds of family, faith, and community are tested and proven strong.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about ways How Green Was My Valley shows family togetherness. What keeps the Morgans going through tough times?
How has the way schools and families handle bullying changed since the time of the movie? Did Huw handle it correctly? What would you have done?
What makes a movie a "classic"? Have you seen any current or recent movies that you think will become classics?
- In theaters: October 28, 1941
- On DVD or streaming: March 7, 2000
- Cast: Walter Pidgeon, Maureen O'Hara, Roddy McDowall
- Director: John Ford
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Classic
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Compassion, Integrity, Perseverance
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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