Friendly Rating: Elementary age and older
Safety Rating: Perfectly safe
Quality Rating: Good, although a bit slow for younger viewers
Episode of American Experience airs on PBS tonight, check your local listings for times.
I remember reading a novel about an Amish girl back when I was in elementary school and being fascinated by the religious sect ever since. This film speculates that our collective fascination with the group has to do with the way many of their values emulate our core American values – and that may be true.
But for me, the fascination has more to do with the way they seem to genuinely walk the walk of their faith. I’m sure there’s some hypocrisy amongst the Amish – and there is a hint of it in the film. But by and large, you don’t see it. These are people who largely embody Christian values, including peace, humility and forgiveness – especially forgiveness – even when it’s not easy to.
Yes, they can be extremely hard on those of their own who stray from the fold. It’s certainly not an easy life for someone who questions things. And there is one scene where an Amish women describes what happened when she went to her minister seeking help because her husband was abusing her and the minister asks her what she’d done to deserve the abuse. Yeouch! The interesting thing, though, is that apparently both she and her husband were punished by the group and she was accepted back when she confessed her “sin,” and he wasn’t because he wouldn’t confess.
It was also an extremely difficult film to make when you consider that the Amish won’t let themselves be filmed as individuals. You can take pictures of them from a distance, but up close. Talk about messing with your visuals. What the filmmakers did get are voice recordings – and they are beautiful.
The big disadvantage to the film is that it does move a little on the slow side, which might be hard for your kids to take. Nonetheless, it is interesting.