Little House: Look Back to Yesterday (TV Movie 1983) Poster

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I cried me a river!
Caitlion25 August 2001
  • for a make-believe boy in a make-believe world

I have strange concept of what is a good way to start the weekend. You see - around here, one of the satellite channels show re-runs of Little House on the Prairie on weekend mornings. And I love that show. I've read all of Laura Ingalls Wilders books and I know that the TV-show is not really very close to her real life. In a way you can say they took the essence of the books and created a make-believe world based on that. The TV-show took on a life of its own, in a way. To me, the characters are very real, even though I know they are just make-believe characters in a make-believe world. Don't misunderstand me - I am perfectly able to see the difference between Laura Ingalls Wilder of the TV-show and Melissa Ellen Gilbert the actress - and the real Laura Ingalls Wilder. But to me, Laura of the TV-show is almost as real as the other two. I've witnessed her life since the very first shows. I've cried with her and laughed with her. She and her father, the character Charles Philip Ingalls as portrayed by Michael Landon, have been my moral guideline at times. They've been my reminder of a way of life based on honesty, kindness and faith in God and your fellow man.

So when I woke up this morning, I turned on the television and watched another episode of Little House - or as it is, a movie sequel to the Little House series called "Look Back to Yesterday". It is a very sad story. Albert Ingalls (Laura's adopted brother) is diagnosed with leukemia. The story, although sad and heartwrenching, is still a story of hope and life. Charles and his family has moved away from Walnut Grove at the time. After receiving the diagnosis, Albert decides to go home to Walnut Grove - to live out his remaining days in the small town where he became Albert Ingalls. Charles and Albert move in with Laura, who is still living in Walnut Grove with her husbond, Almanzo, and their family. And the story goes on from being about sadness and loss to being about hope, memories and the fact that life goes on.

Albert, despite being weakened by his leukemia, is determined to go on creating good memories. His last romance, which could have been a sad tale of the lost dreams of a sick boy, is a beautiful rendering of a love which has no time in this world, but is sweet in all the sadness.

The last part of the movie, directed by Victor French (Isaiah Edwards) takes us to the Keepsake Tree on one of the hills (or small mountains) outside Walnut Grove. Albert, supported by the love of his family and friends, climbs the mountain unassisted and open the Keepsake strongbox to add a memento to the box. To add his last memories to those of his childhood. And in the background, a young boy steals a kiss from a young girl - which is that one ray of light the story needed to be more than just a sob story. It is a reminder of hope that goes beyond hope - that life goes on, even right up to the end and that even in the darkest hours, there is a ray of light.

I'm not a religious person. I'm not sure what I believe in. But the strength of faith which has lead Michael Landon and Victor French to create a world so poignant and strong, so memorable and so believable based on the unforgettable stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder is admirable. What I do know is that Michael Landon himself died from pancreatic cancer in 1991, a few years after the Little House ended and two years after the death of his friend and co-star through many years Victor French. And I believe they used the Little House moviesto convey that ray of light, that hope beyond hope, which they found in their faith in God. That is what makes me come back to Little House now, many years after their deaths.

Yes, life goes on. That's an important lesson taught to me by the death of a make-believe boy in a make-believe world, conveyed in reruns of a TV-show now long gone.
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Bamboo under fingernails less painful!
lucyfan-316 September 2003
I love this movie. Every time I see it, I choke up. Matthew & Melissa deliver scenes that would melt the coldest of hearts! Get past the corny music and break out the razors. Tissue paper stock must have gone through the ceiling when this special first aired! My only question would be ... as a fan of LHOTP, Didn't Laura narrate at the end of Albert's morphine addiction episode, that he returned to Walnut Grove as Dr. Albert Ingalls? Watch it and you will understand my question. Why aren't long running series consistent with storylines? I suppose that writers don't look back at previous episodes. Inconsistent, but heart wrenching all the same!
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Brought back allot of old memories.
peterpuckfan6 February 2007
First off, I must add that I don't what's sadder, this particular show itself, or the fact that the last post on this Movie was 6 Yeasr ago! Is anyone watching these old Shows, or maybe this website is too obscure?

I was lucky enough to grow up when there was only a handful of Channels on TV, and you could actually go to school and most would know what you were talking about. Nowadays with so many Channels to choose from, I feel it has disconnected us a bit, though not completely.

Anyways, I was also lucky enough to watch this show from its inception,(pre-teen Years) with my Mother and Sister, and remember many times looking up at my Mother while she cried, with me and my Sister laughing at her, not really fully understanding why she was so emotional.

Also, as with the previous Poster, my Mother never brought us up on religion, and to this day, it is not prominent at all in my life, and I feel that this series "little House On The Prarie" may have made the perfect "substitute" if you will, for teaching morality, and life's lessons.

I really feel, I should make my Kids watch every episode, as it deals so well with many of life's, and Family challenges.

As I watched this Episode yesterday, it brought back both fond and sad memories, a renewed appreciation for what Michael Landon did while he had his time on this Earth, and a renewed sense of connectivity with the Characters.

Guess what? My 10 Year old son watched me cry yesterday and asked why, and boy, how strange it is to be on the other end of the spectrum now:). though he has no reference for any of the characters, as he has never watched the show before, I did my best to explain, but allot of it was the fact that Albert reminded me of my own son in allot of ways, and also the fact that I watched Albert grown up on that show.

Anyways, in a world with so much to watch these days, I hope that little gems like this show don't go totally unnoticed, as it really does have allot to offer Humanity.
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look back to yesterday
alan_heimer16 September 2006
I loved the movie-i've pre-ordered it when it's released on 10/24/06. The part that choked me up the most, was when Pa made Laura except the truth about Albert's illness-the way she broke down, really hit hard-it was an excellent movie-i've seen it many times, and am looking foreward to seeing it many more times. I'm looking foreward to seeing the commentary that Melissa Gilbert is going to give, regarding the series-Look back to yesterday ranks among my favorite little house story I guess i'd better get the tissues ready- I never tire of seeing this movie-it's just as good, as when I first saw it.

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RepMaj0418 April 2007
I'm glad somebody else noticed the inconsistent story line too. I asked my wife, "How could he be dead if he came back to Walnut Grove as a doctor later?" Other than that one error, I love this look back at a time before the American people were spoiled and soft, and knew the importance of God and country, hard work, and REAL hard times. Patriotism and unity were the American stronghold. It's sad to think that there may be no more Michael Landons or Victor Frenchs' in Hollywood, to remind us of who we are and how we got here.

I never get tired of Little House, or many of the old re=runs from the golden days of TV.

I was sure that Mathew Labeatereaux would go on to become a renown adult actor, but I called that one wrong. What happened to him?
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wasn't walnut grove blown up?
tvtime18 April 2007
I'm just catching the last part of this movie; I've never seen it before, although I'm a fan of the series. I'm just curious--are they all back in Walnut Grove? In the last episode of the series, the townspeople blew up all the buildings in Walnut Grove because some men (not sure who they were) claimed that they owned the town, so everyone refused to hand over what they built, and blew everything up. So did they all move back there and re-build? I'm just wondering what happened. Was it explained in the beginning? And Albert didn't die, right? Also in one of the last episodes, Laura said in her narration that Albert returned to Walnut Grove years later as "Dr. Albert Ingalls."
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Brilliant acting as usual from Matthew. it was a REALLY! heart rending story.
PhllFnt4 September 2002
Warning: Spoilers

I cried for ages after it finished. And I still cry every time I watch it again. Why oh why oh why!!! did he have to die.

Further more, I am really surprised that we haven't seen Matthew as a mature actor. He was so brilliant as a young actor; there was so much passion.

I do hope that we may see him in another role in the near future.
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Memories of a Better Time...
ExplorerDS678918 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Our story begins in Burr Oak, Iowa, where Charles has been promoted to purchasing agent for J.R. Bennett & Company, and the best part is, he was being sent to Minnesota on a month-long business trip, and Albert will come along! You know what this means: a stopover in Walnut Grove, where at this moment, the town is engaged in a baseball game, with Reverend Alden is still a flimsy umpire. Afterwards, they sit down to a lovely picnic in the Wilders' yard and discuss how bad crops are driving some farmers away, so really not much has changed; Charles and Albert stopped by the university where Albert hoped to enroll and begin his studies to be a doctor, so he can force Doc Baker out...nah, only kidding, he's more than happy to retire, he's earned it. During the meeting with the dean, the boy began experiencing nose bleeds, which apparently he's been getting quite often. Albert may qualify for a scholarship so Charles wouldn't be stuck with a huge tuition. Things were looking up, which can only mean that they will soon come crashing down. Meanwhile, Jason has taken up a new hobby: voyeurism, watching Miss Plum and her sweetheart swapping saliva, and instantly started obsessing over kissing. While he goes around bugging everybody about what to do with his lips, Charles and Albert arrive and reunite with the old gang. Edwards brings him up to speed on failing crops, while Laura takes Albert on a picnic. He gets another nose bleed, but it's probably nothing serious. After that, he stopped by the school and met an old sweetheart whom we've never heard about until now, Michele Pierson. They have an awkward conversation. She wants him, but I wonder if the feeling is mutual. In Redwood Falls, Charles has a meeting with their supplier, Otis Wagner, who tells him that they mainly look to big farms for goods because they deliver more than little farms. Charles proposes a co-op among the smaller farmers, after all, he's done it before. Otis remained skeptical, but Charles guaranteed they'd deliver the goods. They had nothing to lose. Hope Charles can bring the community farmers together again, because this time it's for all the marbles. But enough about that, let's play ball! Edwards' team versus Carters, and so far the former was in the lead 8-5. Next at bat: Albert Ingalls. He hit it out of the park, rounded third, headed home. Slide, Albert, slide! And he's... out, or so the unholy umpire ruled. But what's this? Albert's passed out and his nose was bleeding something awful. He's still out, though. Doc Baker examined him and recommended Albert be taken to the hospital in Mankato. Dr. Houser diagnosed him with a severe blood disorder for which there was no treatment, and no hope.

Charles wanted to take him back to Burr Oak to be with the family, but Albert decided he'd rather stay in Walnut Grove until the time came. It was his life and he was going to do whatever he darn well pleased. When they got back, Albert wanted to act as if nothing happened, he even wanted a rematch with John Carter's team. He's got spirit, I'll give him that. So Charles held a town meeting about his co-op plan, and made a new "friend", Zack Taylor, who was sure Charles had something up his sleeve. Albert shamed Zack, who belittled him and Edwards informed him that the boy was dying. Zack humbled himself by agreeing to Charles' plan, and the other farmers followed suit. We got us a town again. Yes it seems the farmers of Walnut Grove became at odds with each other since Charles left. And so they all took to planting, plowing and tilling, with Albert helping everywhere he could. He seemed to be taking this dying thing really well. He also got that scholarship to the university, and he and Michele share a romantic moment together on her porch...lucky bastard. Meanwhile, Laura assumed the role of Albert's overbearing mother by trying to forbid him from playing ball and joining the class field trip by climbing up Harper's Bluff to the "keepsake tree." Albert shouldn't be allowed to have fun, a dying boy like him needs to stay in bed and suffer, I guess. But seriously, she was beside herself over the situation and couldn't even admit that Albert was going to die. She was going to pieces. Soon came the field trip, with Albert leading the way and a cautious Laura behind him. Will he make it? Five'll get ya ten. Despite his strength giving out on him, Albert made it to the top! Eventually Miss Plum and the others caught up and they proceeded to put their crap in the tree. Despite his condition, Albert never felt more alive. Oh, and I guess we can assume the co-op failed since no mention of it was ever made again.

Albert's fate is left ambiguous, but we assume that he passed away after this episode, since he isn't seen or mentioned in the other two finale movies. During the end credits, I think there should have been a montage of Albert's first appearance up until the last scene of this episode. Would've been nice. This is Albert Ingalls' final appearance, and Matthew Laborteaux was outstanding. Several scenes, particularly the nose bleeds, are difficult to watch, and he pulls them off nicely. Michael Landon was fantastic as well, so were Melissa Gilbert, Victor French, Melora Hardin, David Friedman, Charles Cyphers, Shannen Doherty and Leslie Landon. I enjoyed the baseball games, hearkening back to"In the Big Inning." The tone was similar to "Home Again", except this time Albert's disorder was not self-inflicted. This movie shows that Little House was still fresh and intriguing this late in the game and should have continued its run. I recommend Look Back to Yesterday that closes out Albert's story, and we find out that we hardly knew him.
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One of the Sadest
Michelle Palmer1 December 2013
Though it's sort of a "revisit" to an earlier episode, it's still really good. If I remember correctly, Charles Ingalls Jr. basically died from the same thing. I believe they both died from leukemia. It's interesting that Charles didn't mention this when the doctor told me. I half-expected him to say "Not again" or something like that - but he didn't.

So, Albert is just about to start medical school. Charles has gotten a new job and is being sent back to Minnesota for a month. After visiting the University, Albert and Charles head to Walnut Grove to relive old memories.

Walnut Grove is having some sort of baseball tournament. We see all the old cast there - except Harriet Oleson, whom we will not be seeing again because the actress had moved on. Things haven't really changed that much since the ending of Season Nine, but I guess they wouldn't have since (I understand) these three movies were done very soon after the closing of the season. I'm assuming they sort of had to do them since they didn't finish season nine and probably had contract obligations to finish...The baseball game is a side-story. Other side stories: Jason wanting to kiss a girl (the one he tried to impress with the glasses in Season Nine), and trouble with the farmers selling their crops to the grange.

The story is a sad one. I've only seen it a few times because it's just too awful to watch. I'm thankful they ended the movie before "the event."

If my son was dying, I know I would moved Heaven and Earth to be there. I think Caroline would have found somebody to watch the children so she could come be with her dying son. I'm sorry, but I just couldn't buy that. But since Karen Graslie didn't have a contract, she probably wasn't able to play in this episode. I'll be happy to see her return for the final movie.
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Good Episode but not as good as it could be..
adonis98-743-18650331 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Albert Quinn Ingalls wants to be a doctor. But soon he discovers that he is fatally ill. He decides to spend the rest of his life in Walnut Grove. Meanwhile children from school are preparing for their traditional climbing of the mountain. Look Back to Yesterday has some classic 'Little House on the Prairie' vibe to it like Michael Landon's return as Mr. Ingalls, the whole story with Albert was something that hit me very unexpected but it was handled in a good way not as dramatic as i hoped unfortunately but quite good. The way that the episode ends was kinda disappointing tho but still i liked the message of determination and the message of a teenager that knows that he is going to die still fighting and trying to achieve the things that he won't do tomorrow. The episode was also directed by Victor French (Mr. Edwards) and that was kinda unexpected too but overall if you count out the disappointing ending and the fact that the episode wasn't as dramatic as it tried to be it was still a fun and good episode. (9/10)
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