The film was a huge box-office success, as well as receiving critical acclaim, and was the most nominated film at the 1943 Oscars, with 12 nominations and 4 wins. It won for Best Actress, Best B&W Cinematography (Arthur Miller), Best Score (Alfred Newman), and Best Interior Decoration. The nominations were for Director, Editing, Picture, Screenplay, Sound, Supporting Actor (Bickford), Supporting Actress (both Cooper and Revere).
At 2 hours and 36 minutes, this is a film that is totally engrossing, and the time spent with it is very rewarding.
Cannonized in 1933, Bernadette's legacy continues to flourish; over 200 million people have visited the shrine, and though I have never been there, one of my few treasures is a "souvenir" cross that contains water from the spring at Lourdes (which continues to produce over 25,000 gallons a week), and proving that those in the film portrayed as wanting to commercialize the water from the site have succeeded beyond their expectations.
"For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible".
This film tells the story of the life of Bernadette. Very faithful to the historical Bernadette and her story, the film makers have avoided sentimentality and religious fervour and produced a film which appeals to young and old, to those of religious convictions and those with none.
Made in 1943, the film stars the young Jennifer Jones in her first major role, and for which she deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar. At the Academy Awards that year, the film won a total of 4 Oscars. The supporting cast is first rate, including Vincent Price, Charles Bickford, William Eythe, Lee J Cobb and Gladys Cooper.
This is the kind of film which you will watch once and never forget. It is moving, told with great simplicity and touches something which is deep within us all.
A perennial favourite and only newly released on DVD after 61 years, this is one film you should make a point of watching.
Jennifer Jones works well as St Bernadette, and at times her performance is almost painfully moving - as in the famous moment when, obedient to "the lady" she starts shovelling mud into her mouth. She has just the right air of innocence and beauty.
Her mother is played with particular brilliance - as if one of those gritty peasants from an early Van Gogh painting stepped straight from the canvas. The atmosphere of 19th century agricultural France is well evoked. You get a great sense of poverty, civic pretension, and the ultimate radiance of the miraculous happenings.
Go buy it, and be inspired. You will not regret it. Hollywood failed to ruin it!
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