(Review originally written at 19 September 2009)

Years before there was "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", there already was "The Snake Pit" in 1948. It handles a not so quit everyday and sensitive subject of the treatment of mental patients, inside an asylum, set in the '40's, after the war. The autobiographic novel already aroused some controversy at its time, making it a big sell-out. It's movie must have no different at its time, though it was still a bit too controversial perhaps the award it with any big awards, which the movie certainly did deserved though.

Despite its daring and controversial subject the movie is still being quite standard though, in a good way. It doesn't try to go over the edge or to deliberately put its viewers in a state of shock but instead it features a typical' 40's dramatic approach, completely with a love story in it. It's a well written story though, making the movie overall a great one to watch throughout. The movie knows to create a safe and effective balance between its main subject and it's consideration toward its '40's audience, without loosing any of its power with its main story. The movie is being a mystery, a drama, a romantic one and perhaps even a bit of a thriller, all at the same time.

The movie features flashbacks in it, which slowly starts to reveal how our main character got into the mental institution in the first place, as well as her battle for sanity and release. It keeps the story going at all times, the one way or the other.

Perhaps Olivia de Havilland is better than ever in her role in this movie. She was mostly known for playing the pretty, innocent lady but in this movie she also dares to be ugly and acts out crazy. She is hard to recognize in her role. She manages to carry the movie for most part by herself, though of course credit also needs to go to the other actors, who all seemed to be cast well, despite not being big names in the business.

It's a quite surprising and simply great movie, about a, for it's time, not much talked about subject.


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About Frank Veenstra

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