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The Love That Never Fades in Borzage’s Film “A Farewell to Arms” Essay

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Updated: Oct 12th, 2021

Introduction

To begin with I am inclined to think that films like A Farewell To Arms (1932) by Frank Borzage are never-dying. What makes them unfading is the central idea that they convey. The 1932 film adaptation of Hemingway’s novel is centered on the theme of love that will endure everything in the world. I suppose that the author’s intention was to render the all-conquering power of the most fragile relationships that are only possible between a man and a woman. One might argue that as the film does not have a happy end, this feeling is broken and no power of the feeling is demonstrated. My point is that the tragic love between Frederick Henry and Catherine Barkley continues even after the death of the main character.

Main body

This idea of all-triumphant love is presented through several aspects of the film. First comes the plot that the film is based on. The director makes his characters continue their affair no matter what difficulties they face. Only once the love seems to lose its power happens when Catherine’s letters to Henry remain unanswered because of the censorship. This time Catherine seems to lose her trust in her beloved. But when the Armistice comes to an end Frederick finds Catherine in Switzerland and proves his love in such away.

Much of the central idea’s success is determined by the wonderful play of the actors. The characters are mostly disclosed through their relations. Both Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes act in a way to complement each other: Cooper’s little-boy effects and Hayes’s grand-lady manners are mixed into real emotions that they show in the film. The viewer witnesses the most cherished scenes of love between the two people. When Catherine loses her virginity to Frederic they become so close to each other that this tie is never broken.

A lot of devices the director has resorted to contribute to revealing the central idea. Borzage is known for his light and movement brushstrokes, the usage of close-ups which helped him to integrate naturalism and daring expressionism in the same shot. One can observe these effects throughout the film, but when it comes to the scenes in the hospital he or she is fascinated by them most of all. There is an episode where only one eye of Catherine is shown. The details of the hospital scene create an image of heaven where the characters find themselves. I suppose that this image of heaven is a symbol of love that never ends.

As it was already mentioned above, the director managed to render the frankness of this feeling by mixing naturalism and expressionism. The costumes he resorted to also seem to admit the purity of Catherine and Frederick’s relationships: no extravagant clothes, just the most necessary, clean and tidy. What else could be worn during wartime?

Conclusion

The film is of much importance because it throws light on the events of World War I and the way people survived that time. Such eternal verities as friendship, love, and care of each other were the only remedy during wartime. And they never failed to save those participating in the war. If not physical but moral survival – this is what people of any war desperately needed. And this is what the film under consideration has wonderfully depicted.

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"The Love That Never Fades in Borzage’s Film “A Farewell to Arms”." IvyPanda, 12 Oct. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/the-love-that-never-fades-in-borzages-film-a-farewell-to-arms/.

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IvyPanda. "The Love That Never Fades in Borzage’s Film “A Farewell to Arms”." October 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-love-that-never-fades-in-borzages-film-a-farewell-to-arms/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "The Love That Never Fades in Borzage’s Film “A Farewell to Arms”." October 12, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-love-that-never-fades-in-borzages-film-a-farewell-to-arms/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'The Love That Never Fades in Borzage’s Film “A Farewell to Arms”'. 12 October.

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