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American Experience: The Amish: Shunned [Import]

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4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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The Amish: Shunned follows seven former members of the Amish community as they reflect on their decisions to leave one of the most closed and tightly-knit communities in the United States. Estranged from family, the ex-Amish find themselves struggling to understand and make their way in modern America. Interwoven through the stories are the voices of Amish men and women who remain staunchly loyal to their traditions and faith.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Tragic separation haunted by a brooding emotion Feb. 12 2014
By o'henry
Format:DVD
This film focuses on seven individuals who, initially at least, ran away from their Amish groups. Shunning (social rejection of a sinful individual until (s)he repents) is supposed to follow when a member runs away, but the film to me is more about the act of running away, its rationale and repercussions. Two perspectives then are given: that of the Amish family and that of the departed child. Since the Amish do not permit filmed interviews, we get the perspective of the Amish family from voices throughout the narrative. The recurring family themes are obedience, submission, rules, knowing your place, and trusting the wisdom of the group. There are a few glimpses of a family's pain--a father talking about a "heavy heart" and a mother noting she may have made mistakes--but emotions are generally suppressed. I can't say that the film gives much insight into the "pain that the family feels when a loved one breaks away," as the editorial review claims. But such pain can be inferred.

From the perspective of the runaways, we do get some clearer depiction of emotions--the loss of close-knit families, childhood memories, a few letters saved from parents. While very few of them regret their decision to leave, all have muted, mournful moments when they discuss what has been left behind.

I think the documentary actually overdoes the mournful tone. The background music, while pensive in tone, can seem like an ongoing dirge. Yes, there are joyful moments in the film--a young woman in awe of her new picture ID, a charity dinner for an Amish scholarship fund, a young man buying his first car and then quietly acknowledging that living away from Amish society is actually "awesome.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of the DVD - Fascinating program though 2 hours is a bit long for the subject Feb. 14 2014
By Steven I. Ramm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is the second PBS program (and David) on The Amish. The previous one “The Amish” – released in August 2012 (See my review on Amazon) was an hour. This one is 2 hours (well, a bit less because of PBS “commercials”).

This time the story is about those members of the Amish Community who decide to leave and join the “outside world”. Some come back; others don’t. While some “taste” the outside during Rumspringa – a period, usually at age 16, when the teenagers are allowed to leave for short periods of time – most of those interviewed here are Amish who just decided to leave on their own – usually sneaking out of the house at midnight or when they wouldn’t be noticed.

Because Amish do not like to be photographed, we get to see the faces of those interviewed who chose not to return to the community and have been “shunned”, but not those who chose to return. Director Callie T. Wiser uses “long shots” to show us the Amish and the beautiful farms they maintain.

While I found this show interesting, I felt that two hours was a bit too long and that the previous hour-long show was better edited. But that’s my person opinion. Living just an hour away from the Amish communities in Lancaster County, PA, I find any story about them worth watching.

The DVD has no bonus materials.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amish Culture takes a hit Feb. 5 2014
By John L. Matthews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The simple, peaceful, forgiving lifestyle of the Amish has been the darling of the entertainment industry ever since "Witness" but they take a pretty good hit in this presentation. The Amish Culture is depicted as controlling its young people through fear. Fear of losing one's family and fear of going to hell are two big ones.
And the mainline Amish don't fight back. They can't because that's part of the culture. So the story can't really be balanced. It makes the Amish sound like the crooked politician who would not return the reporter's call.
One of the subjects who finally left said he kept returning because of the fear of going to hell. He finally stayed away when he was convinced there was another way to heaven. I wonder if the Amish belief is really that all the people of the world who don't subscribe to their lifestyle are going to hell. If so, they are not that much different from many fundamentalist Christian groups or Muslim branches.
The beauty of the simple life we think of as characteristic of the Amish is not what most of these people are fleeing from Their lives, their dress, the decor of their living quarters seem to stick to the plainness. What they seem to be rebelling against is the lack of freedom to think for themselves.
It is hard to dislike any of the attractive intelligent people portrayed here. I certainly can't blame them for the choice they have made. I have to praise their bravery for taking a difficult step.
But i also feel sorry that we will never get a look at the other side of the story I think we have to consider this and the reason we are not getting this look. That is what makes this such a thought provoking program.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Runaways Haunted by Tragic Separation Feb. 12 2014
By o'henry - Published on Amazon.com
This film focuses on seven individuals who, initially at least, ran away from their Amish groups. Shunning (social rejection of a sinful individual until (s)he repents) is supposed to follow when a member runs away, but the film to me is more about the act of running away, its rationale and repercussions. Two perspectives then are given: that of the Amish family and that of the departed child. Since the Amish do not permit filmed interviews, we get the perspective of the Amish family from voices throughout the narrative. The recurring family themes are obedience, submission, rules, knowing your place, and trusting the wisdom of the group. There are a few glimpses of a family's pain--a father talking about a "heavy heart" and a mother noting she may have made mistakes--but emotions are generally suppressed. I can't say that the film gives much insight into the "pain that the family feels when a loved one breaks away," as the editorial review claims. But such pain can be inferred.

From the perspective of the runaways, we do get some clearer depiction of emotions--the loss of close-knit families, childhood memories, a few letters saved from parents. While very few of them regret their decision to leave, all have muted, mournful moments when they discuss what has been left behind.

I think the documentary actually overdoes the mournful tone. The background music, while pensive in tone, can seem like an ongoing dirge. Yes, there are joyful moments in the film--a young woman in awe of her new picture ID, a charity dinner for an Amish scholarship fund, a young man buying his first car and then quietly acknowledging that living away from Amish society is actually "awesome." One couple has a basement apartment for Amish young people trying to adjust to a larger world. But the father also speaks of his struggle to find a spiritual anchor in the larger world (he returned seven times before finally leaving), an anchor not found in traditions or rules. This same individual recounts his own reconciliation with his father 25 years after leaving the Amish community.

The documentary has chosen seven individuals with different experiences. One is still living in a quasi-Amish lifestyle. Another was never shunned by her family after leaving. Two are older individuals who now provide support for Amish who have left the community. At the end, one of the individuals is returning; it is not clear for how long, but she has a suitcase in hand.

Certainly an excellent documentary, with emotion that is low-key but profound; we can read in faces what is not expressed audibly. However, I do find the sense of loss too sustained and unvaried a tone.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Runaways Haunted by Tragic Separation Feb. 4 2014
By o'henry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This film focuses on seven individuals who, initially at least, ran away from their Amish groups. Shunning (social rejection of a sinful individual until (s)he repents) is supposed to follow when a member runs away, but the film to me is more about the act of running away, its rationale and repercussions. Two perspectives then are given: that of the Amish family and that of the departed child. Since the Amish do not permit filmed interviews, we get the perspective of the Amish family from voices throughout the narrative. The recurring family themes are obedience, submission, rules, knowing your place, and trusting the wisdom of the group. There are a few glimpses of a family's pain--a father talking about a "heavy heart" and a mother noting she may have made mistakes--but emotions are generally suppressed. I can't say that the film gives much insight into the "pain that the family feels when a loved one breaks away," as the editorial review claims. But such pain can be inferred.

From the perspective of the runaways, we do get some clearer depiction of emotions--the loss of close-knit families, childhood memories, a few letters saved from parents. While very few of them regret their decision to leave, all have muted, mournful moments when they discuss what has been left behind.

I think the documentary actually overdoes the mournful tone. The background music, while pensive in tone, can seem like an ongoing dirge. Yes, there are joyful moments in the film--a young woman in awe of her new picture ID, a charity dinner for an Amish scholarship fund, a young man buying his first car and then quietly acknowledging that living away from Amish society is actually "awesome." One couple has a basement apartment for Amish young people trying to adjust to a larger world. But the father also speaks of his struggle to find a spiritual anchor in the larger world (he returned seven times before finally leaving), an anchor not found in traditions or rules. This same individual recounts his own reconciliation with his father 25 years after leaving the Amish community.

The documentary has chosen seven individuals with different experiences. One is still living in a quasi-Amish lifestyle. Another was never shunned by her family after leaving. Two are older individuals who now provide support for Amish who have left the community. At the end, one of the individuals is returning; it is not clear for how long, but she has a suitcase in hand.

Certainly an excellent documentary, with emotion that is low-key but profound; we can read in faces what is not expressed audibly. However, I do find the sense of loss too sustained and unvaried a tone.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Decisions Aug. 20 2014
By wogan - Published on Amazon.com
This is a 2 hour video with English subtitles that examines the decisions of 7 former Amish and their difficulties entering the English world and losing their families. We also hear the voices of those who remain and the importance of obedience and how the power of shunning if done with the true love of god is effective. There are also some revealing thoughts from those who have left- their frustration with rules and punishments for noncompliance, such as the wrong folds in a prayer cap.

Most interesting are the stories of those who have left the Amish community and provide shelter and homes for those who runway from their Amish families.

We see how families are torn, some never to speak or see their children again, and others who do and are chastised. Then we are also told that if they are in need they can be helped but the shunning is still there.
It's a complicated subject and one of interest to those who wish to learn more about the Amish and religions and family situations in general.
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