Top positive review
38 people found this helpful
But better read the book too!
on 26 May 2007
The Grapes of Wrath is fiction based on fact, and tells the story of the Joads, turned off their land by an east coast bank, which has bought up huge tracts of farmland to turn into enormous mechanised cereal factories. Thousands of such families left Oklahoma, Arkansas and other states in the 1930s for that reason, heading west to get work in California. The novel follows the Joads' progress from naivety through hope to desperation, providing also valuable essay-type commentaries on what was going on politically and whose fault is was. The story is compelling particularly because you just can't tell if it is all going to end happily or not.
The novel is absolutely stonking, and it was after reading it that I wanted to see the film, to get some visual images based on fact rather than my imagination. In that regard I was not disappointed. I think the film captures the atmosphere very well, and I was repeatedly amazed by how what I saw on screen mapped onto what I had imagined: the landscape, the laden car, the hunger.. But what I really wanted to see was how a film maker would handle the absolutely desolate ending to the book. Answer: it was not handled at all. The film ends on an optimistic note about how all good Americans can make it through adversity, and we'll all pull together, blah blah--which is expressly not how the novel ends. I won't spoil the ending by saying too much, only that it's shocking and challenging (and you won't guess it). Read the book and you'll see what I mean. So although I give it 4 stars for what it *does* do, the film was a disappointment in the end and definitely should not be a substitute for the book. (If you don't like reading long books, get it on unabridged audio, and let someone read it to you while you drive to work).