Ordinary People Review
19 Sep 1980
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Karen repeating herself
During the restaurant scene with Conrad and Karen, she tells him twice in a short space of time that she has to go to a meeting because she’s in the drama club at school and they’re doing “A Thousand Clowns.”
I never really noticed Karen’s look of confusion after Conrad tells her she already told him about the play. Good acting by Dinah Manoff. Clearly, Karen WASN’T “all right,” as Dr. Berger tells Conrad later.
‘Mothers Don’t Hate Their Sons’
I don’t know if this line was in the book or not…or even if it had any meaning at all in the movie, but it almost seems to be a telling sign from Beth that maybe she didn’t love Conrad.
If someone accused you of not loving someone in your family, you would respond in the positive, telling the other person that of course you do. However, Beth gives a very broad, non-personal answer to this accusation in her defense. She’s trying to prove Calvin wrong by attacking him instead of defending her love for her son.
Am I reaching or do others feel this way too?
I totally agree with you. I thought that was a very telling way for her to respond to Calvin’s comment.
In fairness, Calvin said, “he wants to know you don’t hate him.” He’s the one who introduced the word “hate” into the conversation. But I would have expected, if she didn’t say “I love Conrad!”, that she would say “I don’t hate Conrad!”
But as you say, her response was broad and non-personal. “Mothers don’t hate their sons! She was offended more by the implication that she wasn’t meeting her expected role, rather than the suggestion that she hates her son.
Invasion of Body Snatchers
Dr. Tyrone C. Berger (Judd Hirsch) tells Conrad Jarrett (Timothy Hutton) that he looks like something out of “The Body Snatchers”, referring to the 1955 science fiction novel by Jack Finney. Two years earlier, Donald Sutherland (Calvin Jarrett) played Dr. Matthew Bennell in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), the second film adaptation of the novel.
Nominated for Oscar
One of two Robert Redford movies released in 1980 that were Oscar nominated. This film received six Oscar nominations whilst Brubaker (1980) was an Academy Award nominee for Best Original Screenplay.
The film and source novel’s “Ordinary People” title comes from Judith Guest’s book: “They are ordinary people, after all. For a time they had entered the world of the newspaper statistic; a world where any measure you took to feel better was temporary, at best, but that is over. This is permanent. It must be.” The novel is a school text on the English curricula at many American high schools.
Prior to novel was published
This film was made and released about four years after its source first novel by writer Judith was first published in 1976. Director Robert Redford read the novel when it was still in galley proofs form and after meeting with Guest, purchased the film rights to the book prior to the novel been first published. The book has also been adapted into a stage play.
Increased Darker Lightning
The scenes at Dr. Berger’s office were filmed with increasingly darker lighting to recreate the effect of it getting dark progressively earlier through the autumn.
Difficulty in adapting a novel
The first draft took a year and a half to write, and the second took another year, as it was very difficult to adapt a novel which featured very heavy dialogue with almost no descriptions of characters or settings. It was during this time that actor Redford decided to direct the picture.
Movie talked around issues
Robert Redford decided to do the film because the story’s family reminded him of his own in the way it talked around issues.
RT/Meta Critic Review
A masterpiece.(Click here to see)
It is an extraordinary achievement in an unforgettable film.(Click here to see)