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Mrs. Miniver (1942)

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Dialogue 3

The Wilcoxon Speech

One of the most moving scenes in MRS. MINIVER is its finale-- the speech made by the vicar (Henry Wilcoxon) to the local community assembled in their war -ravaged church, the walls held up by braces and the summer sky clearly visible through the rafters overhead. This scene had such an impact on American president Franklin D. Roosevelt, that at his request the text was broadcast over the Voice of America in Europe and was printed on millions of leaflets dropped over German-occupied territory. The Wilcoxon speech is frequently cited in books about Hollywood's World War II films as exemplary of the kind of filmmaking that helped mobilize the United States to war in defense of its English allies.

The Vicar:

We, in this quiet corner of England, have suffered the loss of friends very dear to us-- some close to this church: George West, choir boy; James Bellard, station master and bell ringer and a proud winner, only one hour before his death, of the Belding Cup for his beautiful Miniver rose; and our hearts go out in sympathy to the two families who share the cruel loss of a young girl who was married at this altar only two weeks ago.

The homes of many of us have been destroyed, and the lives of young and old have been taken. There is scarcely a household that hasn't been struck to the heart.

And why? Surely you must have asked yourself this question. Why in all conscience should these be the ones to suffer? Children, old people, a young girl at the height of her loveliness. Why these? Are these our soldiers? Are these our fighters? Why should they be sacrificed?

I shall tell you why.

Because this is not only a war of soldiers in uniform. It is a war of the people, of all the people, and it must be fought not only on the battlefield, but in the cities and in the villages, in the factories and on the farms, in the home, and in the heart of every man, woman, and child who loves freedom!

Well, we have buried our dead, but we shall not forget them. Instead they will inspire us with an unbreakable determination to free ourselves and those who come after us from the tyranny and terror that threaten to strike us down. Click here This is the people's war! It is our war! We are the fighters! Fight it then! Fight it with all that is in us, and may God defend the right. (a .WAV file)

The film then closes with the congregation singing "Onward, Christian soldier" as the focus moves up through the gaps between the rafters to British fighters planes flying off to meet the enemy.

Return to the MRS. MINIVER main page.


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Last updated: March 10, 2011.
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