Possible spoiler. . .but guess everyone knows the ending.
Absolutely haunting. I've only seen the film in its entire length twice, once as a child and again as an adult. Jodie having to shoot the deer, at the end, and the dream sequence of him running afterwards. . .well as a child it left me devastated. And I will confess, I had the same response again as an adult. Call me overly sensitive, but The Yearling, was just emotionally overwhelming and always will be for me.
I think the acting is superb, Gregory Peck giving one of his two incredible performances as a loving father, the other one, of course, in "To Kill a Mockingbird." If ever there is a film role model for fathers today, it can be found in these two films. Peck's love for his son, his desire to protect his world and let him be a boy for just a little bit longer, is beautifully portrayed.
Whenever this film is shown on television I will indeed watch the beginning up to when "Flag" is found, but then I do turn the channel before the end. My daughter is nearly twelve now, and I see the transition in her from child to adult and the film has influenced me, as a loving father, to hope she enjoys that childhood as long as possible before having to let go of it. And yes, we've seen the first half of the film together, we both get a teary eyed and then switch to something else.
I adore the soundtrack based on the work of Delius and highly recommend his "Florida Suite."
The cinematography award is well deserved, stunningly beautiful, again with a dream like quality to it.
As to some of the critics. Please. . .you have no concept of life in 19th century Florida after the Civil War. It was hard scrabble, and if a man was disabled, his family literally could starve, thus forcing Jodie to face his terrible decision regarding his pet. Our politically correct sensibilities of today had very little room in the 1870s, and yes this statement is from an animal lover but also an historian of the period. I'm almost amused by the critics who casually say, build a barn, or make a bigger fence. . .try it some time, using the tools of the period in the climate and eco-system of Florida. I think the scenes where Jodie and his "Ma" do attempt that in order to save Flag, are heart breaking and realistically portrayed.
So, if you haven't seen this one, do so, but even you tough guys, you better have a box of tissues handy. A warning though, if you have children who are sensitive to animals, think twice or preview it first, it can be very traumatic.