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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

Kramer vs. Kramer was an incredible movie. Based on an adaptation of a novel by Avery Corman, the movie was directed by Robert Benton and released in 1979. The movie became a major landmark in the depiction of the trauma of the divorce of a couple, and the effect that it has on everybody involved, most notably on the young children who are torn apart by the divorce. The depiction of the tensions in a marriage related to ambition, feelings of neglect, and the shift in the earlier traditional roles of a marriage made this movie one that seems relevant even today. The movie came at a time when there was a shift in the traditional dynamics of a marriage, with a greater number of women seeking to find themselves by building a career for themselves. Combine this with a great script, some careful (and non-biased handling), and excellent performances, and you get to see why Kramer vs. Kramer became successful then, and remains a wonderful movie.

The movie starts Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep as Ted and Joanna Kramer. Ted is a rising advertising executive, and needs to put in a large amount of time in his job. Something has got to give when such large amounts of time are spent on the job, and ted is unable to spend much time with his wife and child, eight-year old Billy (Justin Henry). He hardly knows what is going on at home, and greatly neglects his wife Joanna. And then it happens; Joanna feels a total sense of despair, of not doing anything, and informs Ted that she needs to leave in order to try and find herself.
This shocks Ted to an incredible degree. He struggles to understand as to why Joanna left him and also has to adjust to running the house, with a young son, and also keep to his demanding job. He slowly starts to adjust to the reason as to why Joanna left him, and starts to form a bond with his son. His job starts suffering, but he is more interested in being a good parent, and eventually he loses his job. And then, after an year and a half, Joanna comes back to claim Billy. Ted is not willing, and a custody battle happens which Ted loses and custody is granted to Joanna. However, in the end, Joanna tells Ted that she understands that Billy has a great relationship with Ted, and that Billy can continue to stay with Ted.

Oscar Wins

* Best Picture
* Best Director
* Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium
* Best Actor in a Leading Role - Dustin Hoffman
* Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Meryl Streep


* Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Jane Alexander
* Best Cinematography
* Best Film Editing
* Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Justin Henry. Henry was and is to date the youngest acting Academy Award nominee.

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