Saturday, April 9, 2011

Waterloo Bridge (1940)


“I loved you, I've never loved anyone else. I never shall, that's the truth Roy, I never shall.”

            The plot to Waterloo Bridge sounds like a typical love story told through a flashback: a soldier falls for a girl he just happens to meet by chance and is totally taken with her at first sight. He is on forty-eight hours leave and asks the girl to marry him. She says yes but before they can marry the next day he is called away to the front. One day she sees his name in the paper as one of the fallen. Believing he is dead her life reaches a low point and she must do what she needs to be done in order to survive. A few months later she finds the soldier is not dead the whole thing is a mistake. They agree to marry again and he takes her back to his family home where they are all distinguished. The family likes her even though she is a ballet dancer. All the time what she has done during the War is in the back of her mind she cannot tell the soldier what she has done she feels as if she were to stay with him she would ruin his reputation. She leaves the family home never to see the solider again. The soldier goes looking for her along with a friend. The friend tells him what the love of his life has done but it does not matter to him he understands.
            Ugh, if I had to sit through a film with this plot like so many films of the Golden Age of Hollywood were written I would have been so bored out of my mind. The plot is pretty much what I have explained but there is much more to Waterloo Bridge it is more than your typical love story. The film was released in 1940 before America entered WWII but it is about a British soldier played by Robert Taylor named Roy Cronin who, standing on Waterloo Bridge, reminisces about the time he met the love of his life Myra Lester (Vivien Leigh) as the Second World War breaks out around him. From almost the beginning the story is a bit heartbreaking… that is all you are getting out of me about the rest of the film!

            Vivien Leigh was amazing she was such a great actress. Before Waterloo Bridge I had only seen her as the feisty and courageous Scarlett O’Hara and of course she was incredible in that role. In this role Leigh proved she could be more than Scarlett O’Hara. She is even better than Scarlett in certain moments. Even in Gone with the Wind Leigh was able to portray more than words could just with her facial expressions; you can clearly see how in love and taken away Myra was with Roy and then you can perfectly see how tormented and guilty she felt. This was Leigh’s first film after Gone with the Wind. I cannot even imagine how difficult it must have been to pick a film after such a gigantic success but as I said Leigh was wonderful and it showed just how great of an actress she was to go from playing someone who was so head strong and independent to someone who was caring and completely in love and tormented.
            Robert Taylor was also excellent. This was my first time watching a film with Taylor as the star. He and Leigh had a great chemistry you can believe their characters loved each other very much and that Roy was willing to do anything for Myra. I look forward to viewing more films starring Taylor.
            Waterloo Bridge is a film I highly recommend seeing. Everything about it is perfection. The acting is just incredible all the actors not just Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor. The cinematography is beautiful and was rightly nominated for an Academy Award. The score is beautiful and moving and was also nominated for an Academy Award. The story is gorgeous and heartbreaking. I enjoyed seeing a film where the characters and ending were not predictable and was still able to create such a strong impact.