American Experience The Amish
When I was a child, my family took a trip to the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish Community. I was completely fascinated by how they lived, how they dressed, and what their lives were like. Since that point, I have always admired their hard work and the way they maintain separate lives while living in the middle of the non-Amish world. I admire how they’ve maintained their values even as the values in the rest of the world decline and disappear. The work together as a community and value that over individuality which is something I really think the rest of the world needs to discover. When I heard that PBS was going to have a program on called American Experience The Amish (2/28/2012) I knew I wanted to watch it.
American Experience The Amish was filmed over the course of a year and tries to answer many of the common questions that Americans have about the Amish. The program is a combination of narration and personal stories by some of the Amish people themselves. Because the Amish don’t like having their photograph taken, the interviews are generally done with the Amish either facing the other way or standing in the shadows. Sometimes pictures of the community farms or far away shots of people are shown during the interviews. Snips of past programming are cut into the show as well. There are also interviews with Amish experts and anthropologists as well as curators from various Amish museums.
I love the up close and personal view into the Amish life. Not only do you see why and how they think based on historical data and their religious beliefs, you get to see a look into their farm practices, how they dress, how they prepare their meals and what they do for entertainment. The film shows a look into historical life along with a look at some of the challenges that the Amish face today. Many more Amish work at non-Amish businesses to support themselves and their families. The film also brings several current event stories to light including the fact that the Amish won’t apply for building licenses, won’t use smoke detectors, and they build their homes according to the rules the Ordnung sets forth. Also included are interviews with several Amish who have left their communities.
If you’re curious about life in an Amish community or would like to learn more about how they live, I definitely think that American Experience: The Amish will answer your questions. I would have loved to have seen more interviews with people still within the Amish community and less from people who had left because they disagreed with the Amish lifestyle. While I admit that there are some things about the Amish life that would not sit well with me, there is much to be admired and respected as well.
Disclosure: I received a product or products in order to write my review. All opinions are mine and mine alone. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC 16 CFR Part 255 concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising.
Article first published as DVD Review: American Experience Presents The Amish on Blogcritics.