American Experience: Amish - Shunned
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Others have produced years of reality programming that might loosely be described as Amish Boys and Girls
Gone Wild . . . But the PBS documentary is beautiful and moving in ways those other programs could never be. --Wall Street Journal
Brings a welcome level of calm
and balance to the discussion. . . a poignant look at a troubling dilemma. (3 out of 5
stars.) --New York Daily News
Top Customer Reviews
This time the story is about those members of the Amish Community who decide to leave and join the “outside world”. Some come back; others don’t. While some “taste” the outside during Rumspringa – a period, usually at age 16, when the teenagers are allowed to leave for short periods of time – most of those interviewed here are Amish who just decided to leave on their own – usually sneaking out of the house at midnight or when they wouldn’t be noticed.
Because Amish do not like to be photographed, we get to see the faces of those interviewed who chose not to return to the community and have been “shunned”, but not those who chose to return. Director Callie T. Wiser uses “long shots” to show us the Amish and the beautiful farms they maintain.
While I found this show interesting, I felt that two hours was a bit too long and that the previous hour-long show was better edited. But that’s my person opinion. Living just an hour away from the Amish communities in Lancaster County, PA, I find any story about them worth watching.
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And the mainline Amish don't fight back. They can't because that's part of the culture. So the story can't really be balanced. It makes the Amish sound like the crooked politician who would not return the reporter's call.
One of the subjects who finally left said he kept returning because of the fear of going to hell. He finally stayed away when he was convinced there was another way to heaven. I wonder if the Amish belief is really that all the people of the world who don't subscribe to their lifestyle are going to hell. If so, they are not that much different from many fundamentalist Christian groups or Muslim branches.
The beauty of the simple life we think of as characteristic of the Amish is not what most of these people are fleeing from Their lives, their dress, the decor of their living quarters seem to stick to the plainness. What they seem to be rebelling against is the lack of freedom to think for themselves.
It is hard to dislike any of the attractive intelligent people portrayed here. I certainly can't blame them for the choice they have made. I have to praise their bravery for taking a difficult step.
But i also feel sorry that we will never get a look at the other side of the story I think we have to consider this and the reason we are not getting this look. That is what makes this such a thought provoking program.
From the perspective of the runaways, we do get some clearer depiction of emotions--the loss of close-knit families, childhood memories, a few letters saved from parents. While very few of them regret their decision to leave, all have muted, mournful moments when they discuss what has been left behind.
I think the documentary actually overdoes the mournful tone. The background music, while pensive in tone, can seem like an ongoing dirge. Yes, there are joyful moments in the film--a young woman in awe of her new picture ID, a charity dinner for an Amish scholarship fund, a young man buying his first car and then quietly acknowledging that living away from Amish society is actually "awesome.Read more ›
It just shows you that in a world where outside influence is strictly limited, life is still very, very complicated and really about the choices we make.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really interesting, I noticed about halfway through that each scene would have a really long pause right before it so it made it drag on a little bit but still really good.Published 27 days ago by R. DENNIS
If you are curious about the lives of Amish people and their approach/avoidance attitude toward their communities, watch this! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kundry
It is interesting to see that most religious extremes all have one thing in common. Like if you do not believe like "we" do then you are cut off from family and friends,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Keg