Director John Ford’s Grapes of Wrath is an amazingly powerful film that brings to light the struggles of a displaced family from Oklahoma during the Great Depression. It is a harsh and unrelenting reality check. It’s not easy to watch this film. I recall struggling to keep my eyes on the screen during some of the most difficult scenes. Henry Fonda plays Tom Joad, the son who comes home from prison just in time to see his family packing up their few worldly belongings, leaving their home behind for dreams of a better life in California . It is pure coincidence or maybe even luck that Tom was released early on good behaviour and made it home in time. A few hours might have a difference otherwise he may very well never have seen his family again.
Throughout this long journey, the Joad family continues to struggle, they encounter every hardship imaginable and we will struggle with them. The Grapes of Wrath is not one of your edge of your seat films. It is however, a powerful and moving portrayal of the suffering of so many people. Jane Darwell’s Ma Joad, seeing this as the only thing that they really had left, spends the majority of the film stressing the importance of keeping the family together. In the end all they have left is themselves. Ma Joad never gives up on her family, encouraging them not only to survive but to flourish, this provides one of the many powerful messages that the film delivers. Man can triumph despite the natural and human barriers that are put in his way. Grapes of Wrath is ultimately a movie about hope and the human spirit and you won’t be able to forget its impact for a long time.