Saturday, 9 April 2011

Best Actor 1938: Robert Donat in The Citadel

Robert Donat received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Doctor Andrew Manson in The Citadel.

The Citadel tells the story of an idealistic young doctor who slowly loses his idealism for money.

The underrated Robert Donat portrays Andrew Manson from his beginnings as an idealist in a rough mining village. In these early scene Donat is just great showing the youthful exuberance of his character as he takes an energetic approach to his work as a doctor. Donat portrays really feeling for the people he cares for, show the right earnestness in these scenes.Donat through his performance creates an honest passion for his successes, and a sadness with the failures suffered.

Well in this village he has two very important relationship the first is with another doctor Denny (Ralph Richardson) as well as a school teacher Christine (Rosalind Russell). With Richardson, Donat creates a nice warm friendship based in the belief of the good that being an honest doctor can do. This is an important relationship shown very well by the both of them, which is especially important later on in the film.

Donat's also shows a romantic relationship with the school teacher Christine. I will admit their relationship is extremely rushed in the film, and it  is meant to be since he needs to get married for his new job. Although the overall rushed nature keeps their romance from being completely believable, Donat's honest quiet charm does make the romance still works quite well.

Not all goes well for the doctor, and after moving to London he has many troubles properly finding work as a doctor. This is another aspect a little too rushed, since the film jumps really quickly into their problems in London, without much of a transition time. Donat though still is very successful anyways, because he still is able to show authenticity in Manson slow tiring from his lack of success in London.

Manson though undergoes a change after he meets and begins to hang around a group of doctors who care about nothing but making money off of hypochondriac patients who rich. Donat makes his transition to becoming like the rest of these doctors, because of his frustrations, but also just showing how easy it is to go the money making way. Manson forgets his ideals, and Donat makes this change entirely realistic, by at first showing some angered regret when questioned about it, but going into his complicity quite well. Donat makes this transformation entirely believable, which makes his loss of his ideals much more effective.

After a tragic event partially caused by Manson's general uncaring for any ideas that are inconvenient, he makes a sudden change back to his old self. This completely works because the tragedy striking, so deeply made sense do to his relationships he established so well in the film, and also because Donat was able to make Manson look like he was basically sleepwalking through his life before this moment that finally snaps him out of it. His moment where he finally snaps out of it is very powerful due to Donat's anger, shock and sadness at his tragedy, making his transformation back to idealism incredibly effective. Overall Donat's is a strong performance showing the full story of this Doctor very honestly and effectively.


Fritz said...

I haven't seen him yet but his performance in Mr. Chips turned me into a real fan. I hope he can win since he didn't won 1939.

dshultz said...

Wait, he DID win in 1939 for "Goodbye Mr. Chips". But this seems like a deserving performance as well.

Sage Slowdive said...

I agree - I was extremely surprised how good he was here.

joe burns said...

Never seen it, but it looks interesting..

Fritz said...

But he didn't win on this blog in 1939! :-)

dinasztie said...

Oh, this must be a very interesting performance. I think he might just win.

dshultz said...

Oooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh...... "This blog"! I thought you were talking about the Academy Award itself.