Saturday, January 05, 2008

Lou Gehrig and Film Making in the 1940's

I'm not sure why as a life long New York Yankees fan it took me until today to see this film, a truly wonderful story of the life of a classy, gifted athlete and human being whose life was tragically cut short by the disease we currently refer to by his own name, Lou Gehrig.

The film was made in 1942, just a year after Gehrig's death. Not the peak of high-tech film making and a time where movies could only be seen on a big screen. I think the nature of how films were made and who they were made for probably had something to do with the things about the film that I didn't like, all related to the directing and editing choices, none related to the story or acting with the exception of the shifting of words on Gehrig's classic and beautiful speech of July 4th, 1939 at Yankee Stadium.

Watching the film as someone who isn't old enough to remember anything about the period in which the film takes place, I found it interesting to observe the social atmosphere of the day and the complexity of what is sometimes referred to as a "simpler time". I tried to look at the complete cast of characters, especially Gehrig's parents, poor German immigrants, and how their backgrounds influenced Gehrig's upbringing in relation the period in time in which they lived and attempt to put it into the perspective of the lives of my parents and my upbringing.

I haven't seen enough films made during this time to adequately or fairly offer any criticism and ultimately, what I loved about this film so far outweighed what I didn't like that it's barely relevant. One of the obvious things I couldn't help but take away is that Gehrig's life was so tragically cut short at the very young age of 37 - a significant thing to see at age 43 and yet another reminder to aspire to live life to the fullest and not take things for granted.

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