This 1940's film attempts to present the serial novel by Dr.
C. Scanlon | among us humans | 03/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD reprint of the 1940 B&W movie contains a surprisingly good print, with clarity and contrast in the image throughout. In very few instances the sound suddenly drops out for a few seconds, but is quickly restored, as if the film print they were working from had lost a few snips of the soundtrack. But compared to other films from that era (in particular the great film King Vidor's Our Daily Bread) the visuals are very faithful to the original.
There are no extras contained on this disk in the Joyas del Cine Mexicano series, and no subtitles, despite the frequent use of the Chihuahuan dialect, which is true to the novel. You may wish to read the novel, including in the most recent edition by Luis Leal at Los de abajo in order to grasp the richness of the language and of the history, rather generalized, addressing the universal disaster which is war.
In fact, reading the book is highly advisable, as this filming required a good deal of compromise both in action and in characterization. The banquet scene in particular resembles something from a Marx Brothers movie as they climb on to the table, and the government infiltrator bears the head of an older Harpo with the body of Oliver Hardy.
Highly recommended for students of film and of war, which we all are now. In a rather Odysseus-like saga of seeking desperately to return home from war, this tale recounts how war makes killers of us all, corrupt and irredeemable criminals against God and against our own humanity. This epic clearly makes the inexorable point that we who live by the sword must die by the sword, as Jesus warns us. We find here elements of Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children (Penguin Classics), of Alex Cox's Walker - Criterion Collection, of Macbeth (Fully Restored Version) and of King Lear, and thus of Ran - Criterion Collection, simply stated, stated at greater length and clarity in the original novel.
Read the book, after you see the film."