Parents' Guide to

The Grapes of Wrath

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Classic John Steinbeck adaptation is still powerful.

Movie NR 1940 128 minutes
The Grapes of Wrath Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 13+

Completely different ending from the novel...and not for the better

I read the book and although Fonda's portrayal is very strong it still feels like it falls short from the devastation that Steinbeck offers in his sweeping work about the Great Depression. John Ford glosses over the strong political critique that Steinbeck clearly outlines in his novel and changes the ending, opting for an upbeat ending in the film. I think this film does a gross disservice to the novel and to the larger message of Steinbeck's work. Strong portrayals, but the sacrifices made for cinema serve Ford's agenda and not the source material.
age 10+

Good for explaining hardship and economic matters matters.

I watched this movie with my 10 year old cousin, and he was a little puzzled by it, but after I answered his questions, he seemed to get the jist of it. He asked "why are okies so looked down upon" and "what is a red", and "why are they so poor." I answered his questions in the simplest and unbiased way possible, such as his "what is a red" question. I told him that a red is an insulting name for a communist, and explained some of the different forms of government, and there pros and cons. He seemed to get it. Then, he said something that really shocked me. He said "every once in a while I see a truck loaded down with furniture and boxes. Are we in a depression today?" I told him that many of the events that are happening today, are shown in this movie, and that we can all learn something from the past. I think this movie would be great for teaching kids about poor people and some basic government. They may not get it at first, but it will get them thinking and can learn from watching the people around us. Hope this helps, and I recommend it to all who want to watch it!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (3 ):

The acting, from Henry Fonda down to the smallest parts, is a truly fantastic achievement that goes far toward making this film as unforgettable today as it was when it came out in 1940. Through John Steinbeck's unforgettable characters and story, director John Ford presents a vision of the American West during the Great Depression, a wide-lensed vision of big skies, vast fields, and a brutal and unforgiving economic climate.

What is especially striking about watching this movie today is how so many of The Grapes of Wrath's themes -- economic disparity, tensions between labor and capital, and the worth and dignity of the "common man" -- still resonate to this day, despite being set during the Great Depression. All in all, the result is a film that cuts to the core of both the obstacles, problems, and, ultimately, redemption for those in pursuit of "the American Dream."

Movie Details

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