Sunday, July 17, 2011
Detailing the Beauties of Married Love: "Goodbye, Mr. Chips"
I ordered "Goodbye, Mr. Chips," the 1969 version from Netflix by mistake. I meant to order "To Sir With Love" starring Sidney Poitier as a rookie teacher in an inner-city school in London. Instead, Peter O'Toole and Petula Clark arrived in a red envelope on our front porch. My husband warned me it wasn't that great a movie and that the 1939 version was far superior.
Nonetheless, we both ended up enjoying it. This movie is G-rated and I do recommend it for families, particularly those with young teens who don't mind singing and schmaltz mixed in with romance and a slice of British history. Our 11-year-old watched with us and alternated between enjoying the story and mocking the budding romance between the two leads. He's at that age.
The story is about a shy, socially awkward Latin teacher schoolmaster at a British boarding school. On vacation in Pompeii, he falls head over heels for a London showgirl with a checkered past. The story in this movie begins in the 1920s and spans about 30 years of Arthur Chipping's life.
As I mentioned, my husband, an avid film fan, at first told me the movie wasn't all that good. But as we watched it together, he said appreciates it much more now that he is a "old married man" than when he saw it as a single guy.
What moved my husband and me the most is the movie's depiction of how married love can transform you. We were both moved by how the movie showed a couple growing old together and accepting life's disappointments and joys. Peter O'Toole was nominated for an Oscar for his role and you can see why. He is able to depict the character convincingly through many emotions and life changes (I don't want to spoil the plot for you). Interestingly, I learned from Wikipedia, that the book "Goodbye, Mr. Chips!" by James Hilton originally was published in 1933 in a British evangelical newspaper. It has all the traits of a Christian drama: redemption, devotion, fidelity and joy in marriage and the ability to find meaning in life when events conspire against you.
As an aside: The movie was very similar in tone and plot to the 1980 TV series "To Serve Them All My Days," which I have watched on DVD at my parents' house. Clearly, writer Ronald Frederick Delderfield borrowed heavily from Hilton's story. It seems many British writers of a certain era attended these boys' boarding schools and those experiences stuck with them. That series is beautiful, too.
So, I'd say, go ahead and rent "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." Just know that, on occasion, a character might break into song when you least expect it. Like here.