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How to Get to Heaven with the Hutterites (2013)

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7 March 2013 (UK)  »

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Quaint docu
18 August 2013 | by See all my reviews

This documentation is about the Hutterites, one of several sects of anabaptists who fled from post-reformation Germany to America. The much better known of these are the picturesque Old-Order Amish, another one are the Mennonites.

I've always had an interest for the Hutterites since I first read about them in the 1980ies. They certainly have their own charm. They live in communitarian villages, are pacifists, keep to themselves and still use modern technology. And they have done it their way for hundreds of years. You'd have to be almost ignorant not to ask yourself whether they're not on to something.

It seems as if the makers of this documentary expected to break the Hutterites' facade in no time. Or maybe not even that. They just seem flabberghasted that anyone could enjoy living in a small community, raising a family, kicking it the traditional way and not getting out much. They never seem to be able to challenge the Hutterites or even enter into a dialogue with them.

In the end, they find two dissenters in the community. One of them just seems to be a teenage dropout who'd rather be an architect and stuff and own an iPhone than collect eggs all day. Solid. I'm glad the Hutterites have teenage nincompoops like that too, or else I'd have seriously worried about our society. The other one is actually an interesting case, a talented photographer who simply can't do anything with his gifts in the small rural community he's born into. So he runs away to the big city where his big sister already lives, which the film makers use for their big and dangerous escape scene which makes "Stalag Luft III -- The Great Escape" look like a trip to summer camp.

Unfortunately, this movie neither took the Hutterites seriously, nor did it challenge them.

A picture that stayed with me was that of the runaway photographer's elder sister. She had visually adapted to urban life, with a car, a job, and nail varnish. In contrast to the Hutterite women with their quaint dresses, combed-back hair and unpainted faces, she looked like one of us. But I couldn't help but wonder whether that was really a good thing.


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