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Kevin James Dobson
This mini series covers 60 years in the lives of the Cleary family, brought from New Zealand to Australia to run their aunt Mary Carson's ranch. The story centers on their daughter, Meggie, and her love for the family's priest, Father Ralph de Bricassart. Meggie tries to forget Ralph by marrying dashing stockman Luke O'Neill, but she and Ralph are soon reunited, with tragic consequences for them both. Written by
Eric Sorensen <Eric_Sorensen@fc.mcps.k12.md.us>
For anyone who has suffered through the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune in love, this 1983 mini-series will touch their hearts like no other film or TV series ever made. The casting was perfect in every way to bring the story of the Australian Cleary family to life so vividly (Jean Simmons as the mother "Fee" won the Emmy Award that year; unfortunately Henry Mancini didn't for his gorgeous musical score, and he deserved to win!).
While the main thrust of this story and film appears on the surface to be the love of a Roman Catholic priest for a young girl whom he sees grow into adulthood, the underlying, truly poignant aspect of this story is about the long-term effects of what happens to children when mothers love one child more than another. This theme is the real heart tugger here. Meggie is an afterthought to her mother Fee until the very end of the story (Frank is her favorite child, even though he is troubled, because Frank was the love child of a pre-marital affair), and later on when Meggie becomes a mother Dane is her favorite child (also a product of a clandestine love), and her daughter Justine is the afterthought.
It is this basic lack of love that each child feels from his or her mother that determines the choices they make in life (i.e. Meggie choses to love someone who cannot commit to her, Justine choses to avoid love altogether and throw herself into acting to escape reality, Frank goes off and kills a man because he cannot deal with loving his mother too much, Ralph reveals his mother abandoned him early so he too inclines towards a non-committal type of love with Meggie and escapes through the church, etc.)
The pattern develops early and continues throughout the lives of the Clearys. That is why, to me, the most profoundly moving scenes in this entire series are right near the end: 1) when the old Fee has to tell Meggie that her son Dane has died, and she caresses Meggie's face for the first time in both their lives, and 2) the scene in the stable barn, between Meggie and Justine, as they confront the truth: that Meggie does love Justine, but Dane WAS the favorite child, for reasons beyond Justine's control. In hugging Fee and crying in grief, and in resolving her differences with Justine, Meggie finally finds the peace she needs in life; she is then able to let go of Ralph when the inevitable takes him from her for good.
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