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The America of the Amish

2006
Distributed by Films Media Group, PO Box 2053, Princeton, New Jersey 08543-2053; 800-257-5126
Produced by Zoulou Compagnie, Sarl
Director n/a
DVD, color, 54 min.
Jr. High - Adult
American Studies, Religious Studies, Social Studies


Reviewed by Rue McKenzie, University of South Florida, Tampa

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 6/7/2007

The America of the Amish provides a thoughtful and informative overview of the contemporary way of life for these isolated religious communities. Through interviews with a variety of residents, and tours through daily life activities, the Amish are revealed as devout, hard-working, and happily satisfied people.

While resistance toward many things modern remains, there is a very gradual growing acceptance toward electricity, cell phones, cars, and other conveniences. Adult members interviewed expressed awareness of the difficulties each new generation faces in continuing, and some of the younger members admitted to interest in the ‘temptations of the modern world’. However, the primarily insulated way of life remains surprisingly in tact.

Although the communities and residents are a quite traditional in and appearance, some very interesting and at times surprising scenes are included. Tourists shopping in a quaint Amish quilt shop pay with a credit card. A barefoot boy in traditional clothing talks on a cell phone during a volleyball game. A carpenter demonstrates that although he won’t use electric tools, he uses specially designed tools powered by hydraulics. An older gentleman expresses his openness to being part of the ‘tourist trade’, which causes discomfort for others in the community.

The program is technically sound, with high quality video and audio. Filmed on location in Pennsylvania and Ohio Amish country, the rural landscape, small city shops, and roads with horse-drawn buggy lanes enhances the viewer’s understanding of the Amish way of life. The filmmakers are not invasive, but have been able to make a variety of subjects feel comfortable while being documented.

This program is recommended for libraries serving high school, college, and public patrons. The simple, straightforward approach to the content provides just the right tone to expand viewers’ understanding of the Amish in America.