Review of Heartland

Heartland (1979)
Women surviving in the American west
5 June 2005
This is a first-rate film, based on the letters of its heroine, Elinore Pruitt Stewart (and published in the book Letters of a Woman Homesteader, in print 2003), supplemented with material gathered from other frontier families. The film follows the life of a widow with a young daughter who arrives in Wyoming (in actual life, Colorado) in 1910 to serve as housekeeper for a rancher. The film is inconclusive, as it should be: this isn't a story so much as a slice of life. And what a life! Regardless of whether the character represents Elinore's true nature, this is a wonderful woman: strong, self-determining, and courageous. She's not your usual impossibly slender, pretty young thing--Hollywood seems to think mere wisps could survive these hardships and keep their Mary Kay contact visiting regularly--but a sturdy and practical woman who never flinches at what life throws at her. One scene to watch for (among many): taking down clothes from the clothesline. I won't give the game away, but Elinore Stewart was one hell of a human being. I'd have felt honored to know her.
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