Best Years of Our Lives

In William Wyler’s classic film, Best Years of  Our Lives, it shows many scenes that discreetly portray a much bigger meaning. One in particular that I thought was interesting was when the main characters, Homer Parrish, Fred Derry, and Al Stephenson were flying home from WWII. Homer had not seen combat, yet lost his limbs in training. As a result, artificial arms were given to him so he could keep slight use of his hands for normal daily activity. As Fred and Al had fallen asleep, Homer woke up from his own nap. As he looked out the front transparent frame of the aircraft, the sun shown bright. However, what was interesting about this scene, to me, was that the sun was pictured right in the center of the screen and its light was visible, piercing through the clouds. Homer awoke and solemnly looked out at this scene for a few seconds with a deep daze in his eyes. What I felt was significant, was that one could not tell, due to the position of the sun, was it setting or was it rising? The position of the sun and setting of the hour is a significant reflection of the deep emotion and thoughts running through Homer’s mind as he approached his homecoming. What would his fiance, Wilma, say? How would his family react?

The first point of view I would like to approach is if the sun was rising. As Homer gazes at the beautiful, painting like scene, he can see the sun piercing through the clouds. This might signal the dawn of a new day, or a new beginning in his life. As he has lost use of his limbs, how will he approach this new day? Will he take all the negative being thrown onto him, shake it off, and use it as a platform to step up? The sun itself piercing through the clouds, much like his heart, pounding through his exterior appearance crying out desperately, “I’m still human! Treat me like everyone else! I’m not worthless! I’m still the Homer I was when I left!” The deep emotion is sensed in his tentative glare. So what happens next? How will he approach the sun, or the positive lesson, peaking through the gloomy, unexpected clouds?

In contrast, one can see this scene from the negative’s perspective. What was once as bright and valiant as the sun, has been covered and overshadowed by an unfortunate tragedy. Homer reluctantly looks out. One could see his eyes read, “Oh no, look at what’s happened. How will they accept me? Wilma won’t want to marry me now.”  Homer wants to see the light through the clouds. He wants to know it will be okay. However, his bit of hope is constantly overtaken by the darkness of the bewildering clouds.

When he finally does arrive home, his family, friends, and fiance try to make him feel comfortable, but he repeatedly shuns their efforts. He masks their love and appreciation like the clouds do to the beaming sun. As Homer goes throughout his daily activity, he fails to return his loved one’s attempts at a positive outlook. He feels that nothing good can come of this. To adapt to his new state, Homer must fight his way through the clouds and find the sun, and find his redemption. Until he does, the love and attempted support of his family will continue to be overshadowed.

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2 Responses to “Best Years of Our Lives”

  1. nickhendrick Says:

    Dear Justin Mims,
    As I first started reading your paper on “The Best Years of Our Lives” I noticed that you switched to italicized font and didn’t seem to switch back for the rest of the paper.
    The introductory paragraph could use a little work. Instead of retelling the story you should use something that would catch a readers attention. It was also hard for me to read most of it, you should reread it and make the awkward sentences a little less awkward.
    Your interpretation of the suns meaning is a unique one, I wouldn’t have linked your ideas with that scene of the movie have I not read this paper. I don’t know if basing your whole paper on the one scene of the movie was enough to fill your paper with meaning.
    Overall it was a clever idea but you should go over your paper again.

    Nick Hendrick

  2. Kylie Pelton Says:

    Justin, I can see where you tried to italicize the name of the movie and accidently ended up italicizing all of that. But looking past that little error I believe that you chose a good scene to analyze and one that many of us overlooked when watching the movie. In my opinion, I see it in the second point of view. He is scared to go back home and is worried about adjusting into life with people that do not understand what he is going through. I also really like at the end how you mention that he “must fight his way through the clouds and find the sun”. It completely ties together your ideas. I think you did a great job.

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