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(Review originally written at 25 September 2010)

This is a movie that basically does little wrong. Yet at the same time I just wasn't blown away by it all either.

As far as big, epic drama's go, this is one of the biggest ones out there. First of all, it's about a three and an half hour long movie, so that means that plenty is happening in it and the story and its characters progress and go to a lot of transitions, throughout.

But to be honest I wasn't interested or grabbed by it all for most of the time. This was due to its characters mostly. The characters just aren't involving enough because they seem like real caricatures, rather than actual convincing or realistic ones. This really goes for most of the main characters but luckily the movie has still some absolutely great secondary characters in it. Basically they are more interesting and keep the movie and its story going. Their stories and developments help to continue the main plot line and add to the overall drama and epicness of it all.

Even though I really have nothing against Elizabeth Taylor or Rock Hudson, I can't exactly say that their performances made this movie. They are being the biggest caricatures of the movie and it's often hard to understand their characters and their actions and motivations. And above all things, they really rise the question why these two characters ever fell for each other and got married so soon, even though it was clear from early on already that they were two totally different personalities, who had little in common. Thank goodness for all of its secondary characters and actors portraying them, that still give this movie so much more depth and enjoyment.

James Dean out-acts basically every other actor he is in scene with, during this movie. It never seizes the amaze me what a great actor this guy was. His acting style seemed to be years ahead of its time and it really made his character such an amazing and classic one. He actually died late in the production of this movie but luckily enough he had apparently finished shooting all of his scenes. Some other great young actors show up in this movie as well, who turned into big celebrity names later on; Sal Mineo and Dennis Hopper for instance.

But this seriously is a movie you can basically say very little bad about, besides the things I have already mentioned. The movie is just far too well made and epic to hold any hate against. Yes, it's long and yes it's a times a rather slow movie that doesn't really seem to go anywhere but in the long run you'll still be able to see the beauty of the entire bigger whole of the movie. It's well shot and well told by director George Stevens, who was the only one that won an Oscar for this movie, despite the fact that it got nominated for 9 more, including best picture. It should had won more really, especially when you see the movies that it was up against. But in fact this was simply a too troubled production, money and time-wise (it went well over its budget and it took actually two years to put the movie together in the editing room), which didn't really made a whole lot of money at the time and therefore just didn't got the recognition of some of the other movies that got released during the same year.

It's besides a real beautiful movie to look at, with its empty and desolated looking surroundings and atmosphere, that seem to suit the movie and the story that it's trying to tell. In essence the movie is about changing yourself, not just for yourself but also for those around you. It has some great themes about acceptance but also racism for instance in it, that don't get forced upon you or shoehorned in anywhere and therefore works out very naturally and effective throughout the movie.

A real big, epic family-drama, that is well worth your time.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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