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American Experience: Amish - Shunned

3.7 out of 5 stars 188 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Amish: Shunned follows seven former members of the Amish community as they reflect on their decisions to leave one of the most closed and tightly-knit communities in the United States. Estranged from family, the ex-Amish find themselves struggling to understand and make their way in modern America. Interwoven through the stories are the voices of Amish men and women who remain staunchly loyal to their traditions and faith.

Review

Thank goodness for American Experience, which treats the religious community with respect, while still exposing the harsh treatment given to those who leave the flock. --Minneapolis Star Tribune

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

Product Details

  • Actors: .
  • Directors: .
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: February 4, 2014
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00GMM19QE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,346 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on February 14, 2014
Format: DVD
This is the second PBS program (and David) on The Amish. The previous one “The Amish” – released in August 2012 (See my review on Amazon) was an hour. This one is 2 hours (well, a bit less because of PBS “commercials”).

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.

The DVD has no bonus materials.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”
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Format: DVD
The simple, peaceful, forgiving lifestyle of the Amish has been the darling of the entertainment industry ever since "Witness" but they take a pretty good hit in this presentation. The Amish Culture is depicted as controlling its young people through fear. Fear of losing one's family and fear of going to hell are two big ones.
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.
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Format: Amazon Video
This film focuses on seven individuals who, initially at least, ran away from their Amish groups. Shunning (social rejection of a sinful individual until (s)he repents) is supposed to follow when a member runs away, but the film to me is more about the act of running away, its rationale and repercussions. Two perspectives then are given: that of the Amish family and that of the departed child. Since the Amish do not permit filmed interviews, we get the perspective of the Amish family from voices throughout the narrative. The recurring family themes are obedience, submission, rules, knowing your place, and trusting the wisdom of the group. There are a few glimpses of a family's pain--a father talking about a "heavy heart" and a mother noting she may have made mistakes--but emotions are generally suppressed. I can't say that the film gives much insight into the "pain that the family feels when a loved one breaks away," as the editorial review claims. But such pain can be inferred.

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.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Very interesting look into one of America's less known cultures. Where I live in the Midwest there are various types of Amish folk and it is always interesting to see what lines are drawn where. Can they have a cell phone? Some can, and similar things like that, so I am interested in learning more about the lives of these families. In this instance there is a very surprising and sad moment when a young girl finds out there are no more men to be chosen from at a very young age. I won't spoil it but she has to decide to leave and seek companionship in the outside world, or stick it out as a 20 something "old maid".

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.
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