Monday, September 26, 2016
Four Sons (USA, 1928)
This film follows the same production and plot values of films like, The Big Parade (USA, 1925), among others. WW1 is shown irrespective of politics, focused on the impact of war in the lives of ordinary citizens, who for the first time in life have the deal with events completely beyond their control changing their future forever.
Without falling into melodrama, this film has a smooth, pleasant pace, quite familiar to modern-day audiences. The fluid camera movement makes it looks like we are following those characters in real life. The film is so moving because it deals with facts with which most people can identify themselves quite easily, like the importance of having a harmonious family.
Fox studios had recently hired prestigious German director F.W. Murnau. His influence can be observed in some scenes, for example, in the village, mobilized camera and mailman which is like the doorman in The Last Laugh (Germany, 1924).
The setting is Germany in the beginning of XX century and a widowed mother raising her four adult sons. The view of German lifestyle at that film is somehow stereotyped, as we can see even by the clothes of the village dwellers. The Bavarian wearing their typical clothes everywhere all the time.
Then the war started. At first, the bothers are shown going to war in a rather romanticized way, as brave men who were fighting for the country and ideals and they left in a rather optimistic mood, saying they would be back in three months. At least, that was the atmosphere before the real horrors or death and suffering began. Three of those brothers fight for Germany, but the one of brothers had immigrated to the United States, being on the opposite side of his three other brothers.
At first, the brother who immigrate to the USA had a calm life together with the family he formed there, after all the United States was neutral at first. But time passed and two of the brothers were unfortunately killed in action, which brought a huge grief to the mother. In addition to it, the life of the mother and her surviving son worsened terribly when they started being bullied by government authorities and things became hell after it was found out that her another surviving son is in America.
Finally, the last surviving brother in German soil is called to go to the army. At that point, the horrors of war were already undeniable.
The mother eventually found her happiness again, after much struggle, when she managed to reunite in the United States with her surviving son, daughter in law and grandson. Things were not easy to her when she arrived, she was scared and sore, but after the entire family gathered together the wounds started to heal. Of course that to reach this happy end it was required a plenty of coincidences that we could only see in films.
At the end we realize that it does not matter in which side of the war people are involved, the suffering and hardship affects everyone, family ties struggle and trauma is huge even in people who did not go to the front directly.