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A version of the "Little House" stories that cover some of the events that take place in the last three books of the series and the book "The First Four Years" Laura is living on the prairie nere De Smet, South Dakota and eventually meets the man that she will marry, Almanzo Wilder. Life, however, is not easy on the prairie and after a crop lost to hail, the loss of their baby son, the burning down of their house, and a terrible bout of diptheria, the Wilders must make some hard choices about how to move on from the tragedies. Written by
As an avid Laura Ingalls Wilder fan for many years, I really looked forward to this "true story". Within minutes I was deflated. While some of the performances were good, I could not believe how the writers took license with the real facts; it makes one wonder if they ever read any of Laura's books.
Setting the tone for the distortion was the incident depicting Pa and Laura coming across a house under construction where Laura finds an envelope marked "Almanzo" in the pocket of a man's coat and proceeds to dreamily repeat his name. This incident was not only schmaltzy, but totally fictional. In "The Long Winter," Laura describes her first encounter with Almanzo, but does not mention him by name. She was 14 (he was 10 years her senior) when she and Carrie became lost in the Big Slough and accidentally stumbled into his hayfield. Later in the same book Laura describes the horrid blizzard season and tells of Almanzo's and Cap Garland's brave quest for the wheat; however, the depiction of the exchange of romantic looks between them upon his return is again inaccurate. Almanzo did not seriously show an interest in her for another couple of years, which she describes in "Little Town on the Prairie" and "These Happy Golden Years."
I also had a problem with Laura being presented as a blonde. Throughout her books she mentions her envy of her sister Mary's beautiful golden hair while disparaging her own plain brown locks. Yet the producers chose to make Mary a redhead in addition to changing Laura's hair. While on the subject of hair, I doubt that Laura went around most of the time with her hair hanging loose and unkempt. While she was inwardly in many ways a free spirit, she still adhered to the way young ladies were expected to appear in that era; in fact, she describes in her books the painstaking efforts to use the curling iron and cutting bangs to make her appear more stylish.
It was also disappointing that the makers of this film did not focus on the uniqueness of the relationships among the entire Ingalls family, which again Laura described so lovingly. Instead they chose to depict a sharp altercation between Ma and Pa about moving West again. The writers should have placed more emphasis on the closeness between Laura and Mary, especially after Mary became blind, and also on how well Mary did after attending a college for the blind; she, too, was a special person.
If the producers of this film had enough respect for Laura to want to tell her story, then they should have respected what she wrote. Their choosing not to do so smacks of commercialism. Perhaps they could not believe that such good (though not "goody goodies") people actually existed and that the viewers would not care to watch. Then why bother?
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