Cavalcade is a 1933 drama film directed by Frank Lloyd and stars Diana Wynyard and Clive Brook.
The film follows English couple Jane and Robert Marryot, their children, close friends, and servants, who are affected by various historical events from the end of the 19th century all the way to 1933. These events include the Second Boer War, the death of Queen Victoria, the Titanic sinking, and World War I.
From what I read initially, this film is supposed to be about 2 and a half hours, but any and all versions I've come across have been 1 hour and 45 minutes. My assumption is that the film has been poorly preserved over the years and finding a legitimate, clear-cut version is a difficult task. I am honestly glad I did not have to spend 2 and a half hours sitting through this film, because it, sadly, continues this recent trend of dull and forgettable Best Picture winners, with Wings, so far, being the lone winner that still holds up today. The most glaring problems with Cavalcade is, once again, incoherent storytelling, but also the film being mawkish. Whatever love stories it is trying to swoon us with are either boring or overly sentimental.
- Some of the visuals in Cavalcade are fairly pleasing to look at. There are montages chronicling World War I, as well as displaying the civil unrest that happens in the early 1900's. The scene on the Titanic is also an impressive sight (for the time). Several of the other settings look exotic and provide commendable cinematography.
- The incoherence. Much like Grand Hotel, Cavalcade jumps from character to character with little to no rhyme or reason. It's never clearly defined which specific characters are most impacted by each of the historical events that take place. One of the children, Edward, marries his childhood playmate, Edith,and the two are seen having their honeymoon on a cruise ship. The two walk away and a life preserver shows the ship is the Titanic. The two also made brief conversation about dying right then and there, so it's safe to say that the two died in the sinking. However, there is little to no mention of the death of these two later on, and no reactions by the other family members are seen. It keeps jumping back and forth between Jane and Robert Marryot, their other children, and other characters that are never well defined. The result is an incoherent mess.
- The awkward mawkishness. I could never tell if I was supposed to feel emotionally moved by certain characters acting romantic with one another, or when someone was in distress. Two different grieving women pass out almost out of nowhere at two different points in the film. I almost burst out laughing. Jane and Robert Marryot give a sentimental speech right at end of the film that will make you roll your eyes. Any other romances seem to randomly pop up out of the ground, and think they can emotionally sway you with relative ease.
Cavalcade has not stood the test of time, having little to nothing to truly recommend to a modern audience. Most of the acting and the visuals deserve some praise, but it's not enough to overcome the incoherent and bland storytelling, as well as its mawkish attempt at romance. Here I remain, still waiting for that first, truly extraordinary Best Picture winner...
Recommend? Heck no
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