Thursday, January 8, 2015

Weekend Matinee: Heartland (the movie, 1979)




This is the best movie no one has ever seen. I know you've heard such talk before, but trust me on this.

It's a tale of early 20th century homesteaders in the northern Wyoming prairie. A poem of taciturn people and silence -- wide open spaces, and finding sentiment and humor in hard and tough circumstance. A world where every word said, counts.

I was one of the five people who saw this film in 1980, riveted by Rip Torn and Conchata Ferrell, most particularly. You know, Rip Torn is one of my favorite character actors. Of all actors, I most admire character actors. I even like character actors who are always the same character -- Jason Robards, for example. But Rip Torn, that's a whole different animal. He jumped into other skins every film, completely unrecognizable from one to the next.

But watching the movie recently for the second time, I couldn't get enough of Lilia Skala.

I looked her up, of course. She was 80 years or better when they shot Heartland. Among her real-life accomplishments: the first female architect in Austria, and helped her Jewish husband escape the Nazis. She and her two children made it to America some time later. Skala almost reached the century mark -- died in 1994 at the age of 98.

Heartland is available on order at Netflix, also free on Youtube. The Youtube isn't all that great because it doesn't seem to work on a computer wide-screen, and you really should get the prairie scope. But it's better than nothing. For a taste and to meet Lilia, try this -- slide to 4 minutes. On second thought, watch the whole eight minutes. It's worth your time.

21 comments:

  1. U are right, heard of the movie, yet never saw it.. Her face here made me google her and omg.. NOW I know who she is... I've seen her in a few comedies...will have to check this movie out.

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  2. I was one of the other five people. I'll never understand why this isn't considered a classic.

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  3. Added to my Netflix. It must have never made it to the artsy theater in Hartford which we visited frequently in the early 1980s, or else we would have seen it, too. People in Wyoming are still taciturn. We almost bought some acreage near Curt Gowdy State Park halfway between Cheyenne and Laramie a while back, but couldn't make the logistics work. Sad.

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  4. You in Wyoming -- why am I not surprised, Marjie. I think you'll really like this movie. Anon, we're still alone in the theater, and I don't get it, either. Kalei, I think you're talking about Conchata? Every word she says rings true.

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  5. Conchata is one of those character actors who never seems to stop working. This must have been a real feather in her cap, a special film.

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  6. Karin, I heard of the movie but I never saw it yet. I will rent it soon.
    I saw Rip Torn as Henry Miller in the movie Tropic of Cancer. I like Rip Torn too.

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  7. They don't make em like that any more, it seemed so authentic. Great acting. Had me wondering why anyone in their right minds would try farming in Wyoming.

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  8. Can't wait--on my to see list. Now, off to Netflix,

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  9. PS--Have you seen Days of Heaven?

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    1. Oh, yes. Quite different from Heartland, though. In budget and intention. But Days of Heaven is a thing of beauty to watch. And the narrator -- love her voice.

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  10. The Solace of Open Spaces - Gretel Erlich

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    1. The Solace of Open Spaces - Gretel Erlich

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    2. The Solace of Open Spaces - Gretel Erlich

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  11. Hmm I don't know this film. I will put it on the list.

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  12. I put it at the top of my Netflix queue, should have it before the end of the week. Yeah! love a good movie recommendation. Movies are keeping me sane this month....

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  13. Please, circle back after you watch it. I've always wanted to talk about this movie, but that's hard to do when no one's ever seen it.

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  14. I am one of those who didn't see it. After seeing this post, I'm going to check it out.

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  15. I watched it today....The countryside was stunning [filmed in Montana]. What will stay with me were the moments of tenderness within that life of hard work and often harsh conditions. I wax poetic about the life of the pioneers until I see what life was really like.

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  16. So glad you got a chance to see it! It's a world away from Little House on the Prairie, isn't it? And it's based on a true story, a series of letters written by the woman. So agree -- the moments of tenderness ...

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