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A female doctor returns from the city to her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia in the 1930s, intending to bring modern medical care to the area's impoverished and ill-educated residents. However, she finds herself going against the local "medicine woman," who believes that her simple, backwoods remedies and methods are sufficient and distrusts the new doctor's "big-city" ways. Written by
Wonderfully portrayed movie about life in the Appalachian mountains
What begins as what seems to be a fish out of water story becomes a tale of tolerance for others and the acceptance of that which we cannot change.
Dr. Meg Laurel (portrayed by Lindsey Wagner) was once one of them, an Appalachian mountains resident (my mother being of the same heritage was never a hillbilly so I resent calling them that) who suffered at the hands of a "healer" while a small child.
Fast forward to Dr. Meg as a medical doctor now living in Boston suffering nightmares of her mistreatment so long ago. Following a discussion with her husband, the decision is made to "exorcise" her demons in the form of returning to the Appalachians in order to render modern medical care to those she thought she had left behind so long ago.
Following a rough beginning, losing much of her possessions over the edge of a ridge, Dr. Meg attempts to incorporate herself into the society that by its very nature refuses to accept her. She is given constant reminders of the life that could have been hers but for the grace of God. She attempts to care for a man who should have died but was somehow saved by Granny (portrayed by Jane Wyman) and has a greater time of convincing these people her knowledge and skill as a medical practitioner is really the best way to go.
Dr. Meg is also witness to a wedding between a middle-aged man to a child who is now responsible for raising children not much younger than herself. The fear and concern she shows of this arrangement is never more evident than when the child tells her that at the tender age of about twelve or thirteen she was becoming concerned she would be an "old maid".
She eventually develops a "friendship" of sorts with Granny who she trusts enough to care for her when she develops a cough. To be sure, the treatments Granny utilizes have always been viable for someone with an understanding of nature and even acupuncture, but as a doctor, Dr. Meg has a difficult time accepting this. However, Granny is witness to some miracles of "modern" science as well and comes to see that her way isn't always the best way either.
So as not to give away any ending, the synopsis should stop here but to say this is definitely a movie worth seeing, if for no other reason than to see the beautiful scenery that is so like the Appalachian Mountains. The best reason to watch it is because it gives a wonderful look inside a society that refuses to change, unless it's kicking and screaming, and refuses to allow outsiders in, unless there's a good reason to allow it.
If you like this movie, watch "Songcatcher" with Aiden Quinn and Janet McTeer. Though the premise is different, the basic lessons are the same.
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