The film entitled “Places in the Heart” released in 1984 is a wonderful film that deals with various conflicts in the society. Set during the Great Depression, the term “family” is defined in a unique manner in the film. The characters were able to depict more about the problems being faced in the stereotypical society full of prejudices and complexities. It was shown in a dramatic way that made viewers enticed until the end. Edna Spalding (Sally Field) was left by her late Husband Sheriff Royce Spalding (Ray Baker) who was murdered accidentally by a drunken man.
She was left with two children Frank and Possum on their small farm with an almost penniless pocket. She tries to battle against poverty by acquiring the help of a blind man Mr Will (John Malkovich) whose sight was victimized by Worl War I. In addition to this she was also assisted by a Blackman named Mose (Danny Glover) who manages to help her plant cotton and keep her family intact. Life is never easy for the main characters in the film. They tried to battle against poverty which is really rampant during the great depression. The rich becomes richer and the poor, poorer. In the case of Mrs.
Spalding, she is left with all the debts of her husband and the obligation of raising their two kids. During the said era, women are not accepted to work for their family since gender role is given prior importance. But then, Mrs. Spalding is determined to earn for her family and she was able to do this with the help of some people. The farm is a precious possession for her since it symbolizes her family and how they tried to unite and save each and every crop planted on it. On the other hand, Mose is a jobless African American man who kept on asking for alms in the racist society.
He is always ridiculed by the people around him because of his skin color and race. He always longed for company and family love because he never experienced gaining respect from people in such prejudice society. He is too industrious and dreamt of planting on a farm of his own. He met Mrs. Spalding who accepted him as he is regardless of the fact that her husband was killed by a Blackman. It is the first time that Mose was accepted as he is and experienced love from a family. In the case of Mr. Will, he was left by his brother Mr. Danby who owns the Spalding’s farm mortgage.
Upon Mr. Spaldings death, he offered Edna some charitable help granted that he will look over his brother. Edna accepted the blind man in order to give good impression to Mr. Danby and at the same time gain comfort because of her husband’s death. The Spaldings was able to battle against their mourning because of the support given by Mr. Will and Mose. Their solidarity made them stronger in facing each and every trial that they met as they plant cotton in the farm. Mrs. Spalding wanted to always keep her family bonded and their farm in good condition.
Despite the fact that the Spaldings battle against the odds, Edna’s sister Margaret Lomax is also facing her own family problem. She is burdened by the fact that her husband is committing adultery with Viola Kelsey. Their house is set in a depressed area and they have one daughter who is still small. Their only source of income is a small parlor which cannot even sustain their living. An extramarital affair in the film is emphasized as it shows what will happen to a family’s economic condition once there is no fidelity in the household.
In the case of the Lomaxs, they are trapped in a deep economical downfall because Mr. Lomax is too busy having affair with Viola Kelsey. Infidelity in marriage is always dishonored in the society and it can be compared to a criminal act. The film wanted to imply that faithfulness in marriage should always be maintained. The main plot about the essence of family and its importance in the lives of the Spaldings is magnificently emphasized in the film. On the other hand the subplot dealing with adultery made additional twist in the film.
It made viewers tucked in their seats and wait for more surprising events throughout the film. The end of the film is very catchy since it is very idealistic and full of fantasy. The end of the film shows something that is impossible to happen because characters in the film is seen singing in harmony. Husbands and wives who were separated by fate, unfaithfulness and mistrust is seen together. There are also enemies, friends, colleagues and family. To sum it up the main point of the film ended in a way that everyone manages to find their own places in their hearts, the heart of a true family.