26. From Here to Eternity (1954)

Title: From Here to Eternity

Release Date: 5 August, 1953

Oscar Ceremony: 25 March, 1954

Director: Fred Zinnemann

Starring: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift & Deborah Kerr


Nominees: Julius Caesar, The Robe, Roman Holiday, Shane


“A man loves a thing that don’t mean it’s gotta love him back.” – Robert E. Lee Prewitt

Aaaaand we’re back to black and white again. I honestly don’t have much to say about this movie, but it didn’t have much to say to me either, so at least it’s mutual. I just found it really unremarkable and forgettable. Not a single thing stood out to me. Who would think I would actually miss The Greatest Show on Earth?

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From Here to Eternity combines my two *favourite* topics: the army and boxing. Yup, it pretty much lost me within the first three minutes.  The story takes place in 1941 on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. If you know basic history, you know that the events taking place must eventually lead to the attack on Pearl Harbor, but how important that is to the plot remains unknown at this point. Viewers follow the journey of Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt as he transfers to a new rifle company where Captain Dana Holmes is on a mission to make him join the regimental team, since he’s heard Prew is very talented at boxing. However, Prew is not interested in the offer and as a result Holmes does everything in his power to make his life hell. Frank Sinatra actually has a secondary role in this movie too, which is kind of cool. Anyways, as you know, most major Hollywood films aren’t complete without some sort of love story, and this one has two! First, there’s Prew and Lorene, a woman he meets at a “gentlemen’s club” (which we all know is a fancy way of saying strip club), and then there’s Sergeant Milton Warden and Karen, who incidentally also happens to be Captain Holmes’ wife. I wonder how that’s going to play out. I know you must be dying to find out too, but you’ll have to watch the movie because this is a no-spoiler blog. Also that might just be an excuse for my not wanting to waste time writing down the plot. You decide.

I want to address an apparently very famous scene from this movie. If you’re a conservative from the 50s who is a big fan of censorship, you might want to avert your eyes.

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Basically, in the novel this is based on, they were supposed to be having sex. In the movie however, they just briefly kiss with their bathing suits on while the waves crash on their make-out session. Still, to this day, this is considered one of the most famous erotic scenes in cinema. It’s been referenced in productions like The Seven Year Itch, Airplane!, The Simpsons, 13 Going on 30, Shrek 2, and even one of my personal favourites, Gilmore Girls. Another cool fact is that Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore shot a kissing scene for their movie 50 First Dates on the exact same beach. In case I’m sparking your interest in booking your next vacation, the place is called Halona Beach Cove. You’re welcome.

In its effort to remain PG-13, this movie loses a lot of its essence. I’m usually not a big fan of remakes, but I think From Here to Eternity might actually benefit from one, perhaps more closely based on the book. This 1953 version is too vanilla, especially for modern audiences’ taste. It’s confusing because while watching it, your common sense tells you there’s supposed to be something serious and monumental going on, but your actual self tells you:

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The director wanted the movie to be filmed in black and white because he figured colour would make it look too trivial. I hate to tell you this buddy, but I don’t think colour is your biggest problem here.

I did enjoy the bits and pieces of symbolism throughout the movie, like the bugle and the leis (pictured below). Also, although I’m deeply against the glorification of war and the army, I found Prew’s relationship to it quite fascinating. Despite the hardships and mistreatment he faces, he remains loyal to his sense of duty for the army. He says: “A man loves a thing that don’t mean it’s gotta love him back.” I think this quote is a powerful one and it stands true for many other spheres of life. Ultimately, I think he makes some remarkably poor choices, but I still have to admire his commitment.

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I’m not going to say this was a bad movie, because it wasn’t. But it definitely lacked something, and while I can’t quite put my finger on it, I know it could have made the film at least three times better. Give me a shout out whenever someone decides to remake this with actors that don’t look so disengaged throughout the whole thing.

 

 

 

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