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Frontier House

80 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

What better sequel to 1900 HOUSE-–modern family, Victorian home-–than a prequel? In THE FRONTIER HOUSE, three 21st-century families hit Montana, circa 1880-–no off-screen conveniences, set, or cast trailers, just their great-grandparents' world, a thinking man's Survivor.

Based on the sweeping success of PBS' 1900 House, producer Simon Shaw applies the same standards of accuracy and authenticity to this imaginative sequel, giving viewers a glimpse into frontier America during the years proceeding the 1882 Homestead Act when land out West was "free for the taking." Appropriately billed a "docu-soap," Frontier House is part of PBS' House Series, blending documentary and reality programming as three modern American families test their grit and resourcefulness during a five month immersion as pioneers in the Montana Territory. The Clune, Glenn, and Brooks families' daily lives are recorded and condensed into six one-hour episodes chronicling the hardships and, in some cases, humor of building cabins, planting gardens, digging outhouses, chopping wood, and tending livestock—all while bearing the strain of close familial living and neighborly interdependence necessary for survival. While the film's bickering between families grows wearisome, narrator Kathryn Walker provides a historical context, explaining that such squabbles were typical of homesteading communities. PBS deserves kudos for its meticulous and painstaking commitment to the highest caliber of credibility, employing a team of historic preservation specialists to attend to every detail of the series. Highlights include the touching, actual wedding of Nate and Kristen Brooks, and a compelling "Making Of" bonus feature that caps the overall effort with charm and appeal. (Ages 8 and older) Lynn Gibson

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Kristen Brooks, Nate Brooks, Rudy Brooks, Adrienne Clune, Aine Clune
  • Directors: Nicholas Roether Brown, Maro Chermayeff
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: July 2, 2002
  • Run Time: 360 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008G7JA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,241 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Frontier House" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Amy Wallace VINE VOICE on August 3, 2006
Format: DVD
I've seen all of the DVD's in PBS's The House series. Out of all of them, I'd say that Manor House and Frontier House are the best of them.

Frontier House is pretty realistic in terms of the clothing, the setting and scenarios follow the lives of the original pioneers as closely as possible. Seeing modern day families try and relive that style of life is entertaining and highly engaing and educational. We forget how far we've come from those days in the past and how much we rely on modern day technology. My favorite example is TOILET PAPER!! Not only do these poor folks have to build their own outhouses, they have no toilet paper, only a small tin of water, some leaves or a small rag that has to be cleaned then reused. We forget how lucky we are to have indoor plumbing!

Although the families are not the most engaging because they seem reluctant to give up modern day conviniences and complain about the harsh lifestyle and hard work, you understand their struggles and hardships. Watching these familes become more closely knit and work as a team is facinating, and shows just how hard our pioneer ancestors struggles to build lives for themselves.

As the show progresses, we watch new challenges arise, such as running out of food, dealing with livestock, building log cabins and other buildings such as outhouses and chicken coops. Learning how to slaughter and butcher animals is another task that has to be mastered, along with learning to farm.

PBS did a wonderful thing introducing this series of "time travel" shows. Not only do we learn about different periods in history, but we learn how modern day people interact and live in these settings. These are wonderful to watch with your family and children, and would be great in a classroom setting.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By chefdevergue VINE VOICE on January 22, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Rarely have I heard so much whining in a PBS series. My god, the Clunes --- everyone I knew who watched this had pretty much the same thing to say about them. Rich, priviledged and delusional, the Clunes drove us all crazy with their whining and self-serving rationalizations. They were like a car accident --- they sickened you, but you couldn't help but watch them.
Watching the Glenns on the other hand was pure agony, as you witnessed the disintegration of a marriage that appeared to be cracking up even before the Frontier House experiment. Although they proved to quite equal to the task (the Clunes, by contrast, would have had to resort to cannibalism to survive the winter), the Glenns might have ended up killing each other somewhere along the way. I suspect that the Glenns, unfortunately, depicted all too accurately many a domestic situation on the historical frontier.
If you have photographs of your 19th-century ancestors, particularly those who were sod-busters, take a good look at those faces. They are the faces of weathered, hardened people who have looked adversity in the face. Watching this series will make you understand why they looked so hardened. Of course, the Clunes never would have gotten a chance to get their portraits made, because they would be dead.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By 3kingsandaduce on February 5, 2004
Format: DVD
I have seen the series but I must confess, I do not yet own the DVD. Even without whatever extras might be featured on DVD this is a very worthy view. They take 5 families, some with kids, and they all must live by the rules of a different era for nearly a year, in an isolated area of Montana. So for a year, all these families, these people from the 21st century, must live like pioneers. They build cabins, dig outhouses, chop wood, plant and tend gardens, raise and harvest animals & try not to starve to death. They can only go for supplies as time and money allows; these trips take a day each way and they shop at a recreated general store, only allowed to buy things possible to obtain in the 1800's. They follow them around with cameras, documenting their lives and struggles. Except for the cameras, everything else is pretty much authentically from the pioneer era. Also, perhaps best of all, in addition to the documenting cameras, each person involved is filmed in more private, confessional-type settings, and they often say whatever they want; personal opinions, feelings about other pioneer community members, all kinds of interesting things.
The reasons I like this: It seems to unfold in a very real and natural way, never seems contrived. You get to see first hand, get a first-hand feeling of being there without becoming soiled personally, in a more detailed, more personal way than ever before, how it must have been for our brave pioneering forefathers. It gives you a better understanding and a bigger appreciation for aforementioned forefathers. You get deeply inside these people's lives for a year, feel almost acquainted with them.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By blackturtle on July 28, 2006
Format: DVD
I watched all six hours of this documentary in two days! The quality and workmanship that went into the production of this video was incredible. The scenery was as good as it gets. The attention to historical detail was almost obsessive. There was a good balance between the technical aspects of living in the 1880s and the way that the different individuals adapted to the demands of their new environment. The discussion of social issues of the time was also strong. A lot of effort went into creating an authentic depiction of the life of homesteaders in Montana in the 1880s. The research, the selection of participants, the advisory staff... everything was excellent!
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