In 1988 director Kevin Tomlinson interviewed a group of back-to-the-land hippies at a 'healing gathering' in rural Washington State practicing peace and love. Now, in this poignant ...
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In 1988 director Kevin Tomlinson interviewed a group of back-to-the-land hippies at a 'healing gathering' in rural Washington State practicing peace and love. Now, in this poignant examination of this community over time, he tracks down those original interviewees and their children twenty years later to find out what the glories and sufferings of living out of the mainstream and off the grid might really look like. Written by
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and thought the director did a wonderful job capturing the essence of the personalities. I wonder, did he intend to find them again 20 years later, or did the idea occur to him one day to go find the people he stumbled upon 20 years before?
These stories and interviews resonate withme strongly in part due to my growing up a child of a back-to-the-lander. I found the children's stories fascinating and could relate to all of them in some way. In particular, some of the frustrations of the athletic daughter (forget her name). As I myself grew and ventured off the "hill" to the land of electricity and day jobs, I wondered why some people choose to do without amenities that aren't bad for the earth or those in it. As I reach my mid 30's I look back with an appreciation for my youth but still with the knowledge I wouldn't "put my kids through that." My parents lived in a tent when my brother was born. A tiny tent. In Oregon in the winter. Forethought and planning anyone? And another thing- your kid is unhappy that he is teased at school because of his ill fitting dirty clothes and the adult's sage words of wisdom are "that's their problem, not yours."? It's a struggle when when the values of your parent(s) are at such odds with what is considered (and, let's be honest, if it's considered so it's as good as is to a poor kid who doesn't like being teased) normal.
The roots of my father's (Mom bailed when I was seven. She needed electricity) escape from society are simple enough: his CEO dad and Vietnam breathing down his neck, combined with a low tolerance for stress. But to paraphrase the daughter in the movie, you aren't the center of the universe anymore when you decide to have kids. Fortunately, as is evidenced in the film and as I myself experienced, there is an abundance of love.
I suppose now I fall somewhere in the middle mindset of the kids shown in the movie. The military son seems as foreign to me as anything, yet I myself will allow my kids new shoes, and make a point to be able to afford them. Because 20+ years later I still remember the embarrassment and pain. Yeah- maybe it's shallow, but when I look at pictures of my Dad's childhood he was decked out with a car, new surfboards and nice clothes. He has no idea. To each his own and perhaps with a different temperament I could have held up better under the watchful eye of the school gatekeepers. But in rural Oregon, different is bad.
I loved how the movie shows that life continues. The ferry gathering being a modern version perhaps of the initial 80's love in. Along with the marriage after 22 years. But we change. The communal kitchen next to Dad's place was gone by '85, along with every single other like minded soul. The Moses Lake man knows what I'm talking about. It's my Dad's sanctuary on the hill. Follow the dirt road a couple of miles to the pavement and you are surrounded by rural habit's like unemployment, meth and right wing conspiracies, not to mention right wing voters. How did that happen? Not everyone can eat and drink idealism. Eventually some folks WANT to sleep warm and will do what it takes to make it happen. You move to the jobs.
My biggest complaint of the movie is I was left wanting more. I wanted to hear the military son's perspective. I wanted to hear what the athletic daughter is doing with her life, and her sister. I wanted more characters from before and after. And are there any that look back and smile instead of and maybe aren't so sincere anymore? Were they left on the cutting room floor?
I hope to someday end up with the place on the hill and the 40 acres and the overwhelming garden with the tall fence to keep the deer out. I want to gaze into the forest and be scared of the silence. I LOVE it. But for me it may never be more than a weekend here and there. A place for nostalgia. For the back to nature experience. If I decided to move back to the land, which I someday may do, as I never feel truly at home in the city, it won't be Moses Lake or the like. It will be a small coastal town with retired artists. It will be nearby a college town with professor neighbors. It will be the mountain town where every few days over coffee I see my author friend on his laptop.
I would love to see a part two of this movie another 20 years from now. Where are they then? Where am I then? Where will you be then? This movie makes us wonder. Nice work!
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