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Shenandoah

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PG
1965

Shenandoah is a 1965 American Civil War film that is centered on the themes of family, loyalty, the tragedy of war, and the strength of the human condition. This captivating movie boasts an array of timeless performances from a stellar cast, headlined by Hollywood icon James Stewart, alongside Doug McClure and Glenn Corbett.

James Stewart delivers one of his finest performances as Charlie Anderson, a Virginian farmer, who is fiercely determined to keep his family out of the American Civil War, which rages around them. Patriarchal and strong, Anderson is a widower who has raised his six sons and one daughter on the principles of hard work, independence, and a love for the land that gives them their livelihood.

Stewart's character is based on a pacifist's stance during the Civil War, desiring only peace and prosperity for his family, refusing to involve himself in the broader conflict that threatens to tear the nation apart. To his children and those around him, he is both charismatic and compelling, not because of the ideals he rejects, but rather because of what he steadfastly represents— work ethic, kinship, and a determined non-compliance to become involved in the war.

Yet, the war creeps ever closer to the Anderson family, their secluded life in the fertile Shenandoah Valley vastly different from the crumbling world around them. Despite Charlie’s staunch neutrality, events transpire that mercilessly thrust him and his family into the tumultuous conflict. The Andersons, who desperately sought to avoid the war, find conflicts on their doorstep that they can't ignore.

Shenandoah portrays the Civil War from an unusual perspective, providing viewers with a complex and enlightening peace rhetoric rather than indulging in romanticized battle scenes. The film's portrayal of war is gritty and authentic, reflecting the brutal reality of a nation at war with itself. Although it hosts a series of action-packed sequences, the film gently maintains its stance, highlighting the futility and wastage of war.

Co-stars Doug McClure and Glenn Corbett deliver equally powerful performances in the film. McClure's character as the eldest Anderson son presents a frontline view of the war and its horrors. As for Corbett, his portrayal of another family member showcases the personal struggles faced on the home front.

The eldest Anderson daughter is played wonderfully by Rosemary Forsyth, who shines as Jenny, the love interest of Corbett's character. Through her eyes, we explore another aspect of the Civil War's impact on traditional gender roles and the resilience of love amidst the turmoil.

Shenandoah is best remembered for its powerful dialogue and emotionally stirring scenes. Though set against the backdrop of war, this family's story is filled with moments of warmth, humor, and heartbreak. It carefully dances along the edges of comedy and tragedy, providing a complex, human interpretation of the war.

The film boasts superb direction from Andrew V. McLaglen, who masterfully blends the intimate, familial moments with the grand, captivating backdrop of the Civil War. McLaglen presents the narrative with sensitivity and passion while never failing to maintain the film's tension and momentum.

Shenandoah is visually stunning, showcasing the sweeping landscape of the Shenandoah Valley in all its rugged beauty. The cinematography by William H. Clothier brilliantly captures the serene homestead of the Andersons and contrasts it with the harsh reality of the civil war's battlefields. Similarly, The stirring score from Frank Skinner helps accentuate the film's emotional peaks.

In summary, Shenandoah is an engrossing exploration of a family's resistance to the Civil War that quietly surrounds them. It tells a compelling story within its war-time setting while also providing a heartfelt depiction of familial bonds, peace rhetoric, and human resilience. Rooted in excellent performances from its cast, led by the ever-magnetic James Stewart, and under the sure-handed direction of Andrew V. McLaglen, the film imparts a still-relevant message about the high cost of war in human terms. For those seeking a war film with depth, drama, and doses of humor, Shenandoah serves as an exceptional viewing experience that remains compelling more than half a century after its release.

Shenandoah is a Action, Adventure, Drama, Western movie released in 1965. It has a runtime of 105 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.3..

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7.3/10
Director
Andrew V. McLaglen
Stars
James Stewart, Doug McClure, Glenn Corbett
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