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The Great Santini

Where to Watch The Great Santini


The 1979 American drama film 'The Great Santini,' directed by Lewis John Carlino, is widely known for its compelling depiction of a dysfunctional family, intense performances, and a deeply nuanced screenplay. Based on Pat Conroy's 1976 semi-autobiographical novel, this drama explores themes like identity, familial relationships, self-acceptance, and integrity.

Robert Duvall graces the screen in an Oscar-nominated performance as the protagonist, Lieutenant Colonel Wilbur 'Bull' Meechum. He is a Marine Corps fighter pilot with steadfast commitment to his service, which he refers to as "The Great Santini," a tribute to his flamboyant, circus-stunt flying persona. The narrative arc of the film pivots mostly around Meechum's relationship with his family and the riveting personality of this military man that sets him apart.

Duvall's performance as Meechum reflects the duality of a man aloft in the cockpit and grounded in life's reality. He is zealous and fastidious about his professional commitments, displaying a larger-than-life persona on duty. However, his unyielding expectation of discipline, compartmentalization, and perfection spills over into his family life, contributing to complications with his wife and children. The domineering nature of Meechum, combined with his harsh military persona, generates a palpable tension about whether this hard-nosed disciplinarian will learn to juggle family and service gently or go down with his ship.

Blythe Danner delivers a vivid portrayal of Meechum's wife, Lillian. She is an adaptable and resilient woman, trying to hold her family together against the backdrop of her husband's inflexible and authoritative demeanor. As the Meechum family moves to South Carolina's Beaufort, where the patriarch is assigned to a new squadron, Lillian navigates through the domestic turbulence with remarkable strength and grace.

Another significant performance in this film comes from young Michael O'Keefe, who plays Ben, the eldest of the Meechum siblings. Ben paints a classic picture of a son seeking approval from a hard-to-please father. O'Keefe's portrayal of the rebellious yet desperate-to-please teenager is heartrending and speaks volumes about the unusual father-son relationship.

'The Great Santini' is noted for its earnest portrayal of the dynamics of a military family. It deftly exposes the discomforting underbelly of a household where the patriarch is a military man overtaken by his obsession with discipline and order. However, it also pays tribute to the unyielding strength of the family members who deal with the burden of this man’s authoritative and militaristic views. At its core, this film comments on the toxic masculinity of the era, shrouded under the guise of strict military discipline and honor.

The storytelling in this film is further enhanced by commendable cinematography and an evocative score. The camera effectively captures the natural beauty of coastal South Carolina, establishing a striking contrast against the complex and sometimes abrasive family dynamics portrayed. On the other hand, Elmer Bernstein's music resonates well with the film's tone, reinforcing the narrative.

'The Great Santini' presents a multi-faceted view of a complex man, a strict disciplinarian who loves his family in his own unconventional ways. It is a gripping drama with a subtle charm, an extraordinary characterization drawn straight from the annals of American literature. The performances alone make it a must-watch for any serious moviegoer, and its underlying themes provide plenty of food for thought.

The Great Santini is a Drama movie released in 1979. It has a runtime of 115 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.2. It also holds a MetaScore of 64.

How to Watch The Great Santini

Where can I stream The Great Santini movie online? The Great Santini is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Tubi TV, Kanopy, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Great Santini for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Lewis John Carlino
Robert Duvall, Blythe Danner, Michael O'Keefe
Also directed by Lewis John Carlino
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