Friday, August 9, 2013

The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder DVD (Review)

Growing up, I enjoyed watching Little House on the Prairie.  In fact, I still do because if I want a warm fuzzy feeling or need a good cry Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert always deliver.  I'm a horrible mother though because I have deprived my children of this wonderful TV series.  Now confession time, while I rocked some braids that could rival little miss Half-Pint's, even worse I have never read the original series of books authored by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (GASP!)  Ok... so I guess I'm the deprived one. 

In efforts to redeem my childhood, I added the books to our family read-aloud list.  Shortly after, the Schoolhouse Review Crew had the opportunity to review either Almanzo Wilder:  Life Before Laura or Little House on the Prairie: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I jumped on the latter!

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The mission of Legacy Documentaries is to create and deliver content so compelling it entertains, informs and shapes the lives of our viewers.  Who is the man behind the production of these documentaries?  None other than Almanzo Wilder... well, Dean Butler, the actor who portrayed Almanzo in the tv series. 

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Length:  1 hour
Format:  DVD
Recommended for all ages
Captivating cinematography, historic photographs, classic paintings, reenactments, interviews, and narration combine to create an hour long documentary that defies the common misconception that documentaries equal BORING.  The viewer both young and old, Laura fan or Little House novice, will be drawn in by the beautiful scenery, compelling music, and iconic story.  Laura Ingalls Wilder had much to share through her books, but we all have much to learn from her life.
We are reminded that life on the prairie didn't actually take place in hour long increments with a spattering of commercial breaks before a happy ending.  Instead, we're guided to think of the struggles of living off the land, facing the harsh elements, surviving crop failure, and dealing with poverty.  This is a reminder of the American past. 

While this documentary gives attention to the childhood and formative years of Laura Ingalls Wilder, it goes far beyond the stories chronicled in her books.  The viewer will come to know Laura - the wife, the mother, and the author. We learn of the relationship between Laura and Almanzo, the heart-wrenching experience of losing a baby boy, an often strained relationship with her daughter Rose, and the constant financial hardships.   
In the DVD, each of Laura's books are described.  The actual happenings in Laura's life and family are discussed.  Having not read the books, I found these "insider clues" particularly interesting.  Now when reading the books, I'll have a better idea of what is factual and what is fiction.  For example, the notorious antagonist I know from the show, Nellie, is actually based on not one but three girls Laura  knew as a child.  The use of composite characters was interesting.   
My thoughts:

Permanently ingrained in my brain are pictures of the actors and actresses from the television series, so I enjoyed the actual photographs of Laura and her family.  It removed the fiction element of the stories I love and reminded me that this is history.  Laura was a real person who accomplished great things... even when faced with adversity. 

Also, being a music geek, I must say that the original score was well-crafted.  The rise and fall of the melody followed the storyline and the chosen instrumentation set the tone beautifully.  Overall, it was pleasing to the ear and accompanied the telling of Laura's story perfectly.   

My kids:

Prior to the documentary, they were unfamiliar with Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Now, they find her to be an interesting lady.  After seeing the DVD, they are ready to read the book series together. 

Members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed Almanzo Wilder:  Life Before Laura or Little House on the Prairie: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Click below to read the thoughts and experiences of other homeschooling families.  It is always great to get multiple opinions.


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