There are a lot of movies on the First World War. Some focussed on the battle while others showed the impact of the war on the common man. This movie does both.
Sergeant York is not simply a movie about the first Great War. Even when so many nations had taken up arms, life in the countryside of those countries was quite peaceful. People were almost completely oblivious of the political developments that were going on between their countries. Not because the people were ignorant, but because that was a time before the era of true mass communication. Why am I writing this? It’s because Sergeant York is about all that and even more. It is one of the best depiction of the First World War in film and is about the journey of a man from being a angry drunk to being one of the most respected war hero of his time.
There isn’t a lot to discuss on this as the movie belongs to a time when film making was limited to very few techniques and technology. Still, the movie was a thrill to watch. The different set pieces were varied and each had a good amount of detail.
The soundtrack goes well with the various scenes and really helps set the mood. The quality sound editing is evident especially during the scenes in the battlefields. Gun shots and explosions feel very authentic for the time and the overall result is pretty realistic.
This is the big one. The movie deals with many issues, all of them in great detail. There are some other movies that also deal with a lot of things but few are able to tell everything with such detail. The story mainly revolves around a notorious man who eventually becomes a famous war hero. The movie deals with his journey in life and how he found religion and in doing so, how he found himself. Only one thing bothered me in the movie; in the end, York becomes a devout Christian who is fully devoted to his book. But in the end, the man appears more of a saint than an ordinary person. You can never be too good.
There was little overacting. Something which was very common for the time. The cast was strong in the film, and the lead Gary Cooper did his part well. In the end, Sergeant York feels great. This movie will leave a smile on your face in the end. Sure, some parts really felt like a drag, especially in the first half at the countryside but by the latter half the movie picks up pace and ends up a well-polished movie. This one is a joy to watch.
PS. I only found out later that Alvin C. York was actually a real person and this was his biopic. He was one of the most highly decorated soldiers of World War I and he truly did capture 132 German troops with only six other men. It is disheartening because there were a lot of fictitious content and that’s something you try to avoid as much as possible when you’re doing a true story. For a biopic, this movie has some faults but overall, it’s a very decent film.