Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Beyond the Prairie - The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder - A Movie Review

Stop over at Barbara's to find out more about this reading challenge!

I almost decided to not watch Beyond the Prairie (part 1) and Beyond the Prairie (part 2) for this challenge. When I went to check it out on Ama*zon, there was some heated debates in the review section from LHP fans! 

I decided to go ahead and watch them anyway as I like to form my own opinions about things. I decided at the outset though to set aside all I knew of LHP books and movies and just watch it without comparing it to any of the beloved movies or TV series until I had finished watching.  

These two made for TV movies were produced by CBS. The were aired as a 2 part miniseries; Part 1 aired  in 2000 and the second movie aired in 2002. It was based on the books from LHP series - The Long Winter through The First Four Years  and included several well known actors ~ Richard Thomas, Meredith Monroe and Walter Goggins.


After watching both movies, I had differing reactions to them.  The movie flowed well, the cinematography was good. It was rather interesting to see Richard Thomas as Charles Ingalls; he did an excellent acting job!   

With the exception of some of the dramatic licence in writing and producing these movies, I enjoyed watching them. I found it to be a really good miniseries on pioneers and the westward movement.

On the other hand ... about the dramatic licence - 

CBS productions chose to step out of the box and portray Laura and her family differently. It was a gusty move.  They casted Laura Ingalls as a blonde. (Laura was a brunette who as a little girl was jealous of her sister's golden hair.) Another interesting change was Mary and Ma Ingalls had red hair. 

Given the above and some other changes, I can certainly understand why the  "dramatic licence" taken in these movies angered so many of the LHP fans. Still, I have to write that I really enjoyed watching both movies in their own right. 

I also came away with the thought that the movie might have been better received if they had left out the phrase "the true story of Laura Ingalls Wilder" from the movie title. The dramatic license CBS productions took really stretched the boundaries of a "true" depiction of Laura's life.   

I encourage you all to watch the movies and make your own decision. Stop on back and let me know what you thought!   

1 comment:

Barbara H. said...

I had not heard of these. Interesting! It's odd that they would make Laura blond when that was a big part of her growing up - her being brunette and Mary being blond. I think they probably wanted to tie it in to LIW to draw people in for the name recognition, which they wouldn't have had if it was just any other family on the prairie. I'll have to see if Netflix or the library has these.