27 December 2008

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (starring Ingrid Bergman)


I can remember watching this film on television, many years ago. Probably in the 1970s when I was a teenager. It struck quite a chord with me, and so I was pleased to be able to find it inexpensively on DVD.

'The Inn of the Sixth Happiness', made in 1958, is based on the true story of Gladys Aylward. She was a determined young woman who felt called to be a missionary in China in 1930. She applied to the China Missionary Society, was not considered suitable. So, sure of her calling, she worked for several months as a parlour-maid until she could afford the train ticket to take her to China.

The journey was a nightmare, but eventually Gladys arrived at her destination - untrained, uncertain, but full of enthusiasm. At first, she was treated with suspicion, but she learned the language, and began to dress and live like a Chinese woman. She showed tremendous courage in the face of great adversity.

Having also read a biography of Gladys Aylward's life, I'm aware that poetic license was taken in several places, with the Christian element quite down-played. Then there are a few totally fictional romantic moments added in the movie, presumably a requierment for popularity on the big screen in the 1950s. However, the whole it gives a good overview of her dramatic life story, which is well documented in many places.


The acting is excellent, even if some of the accents are a little awry at times. The photography is stunning in places, and the many Chinese children are utterly delightful. It’s a fairly long film – about two and a half hours – but I found it enthralling, despite knowing the overall storyline.

Unsurpisingly, given its vintage, the opening sequence and titles look very dated, but we both thought that the bulk of the film was extremely well made.

Recommended.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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