Friday, July 17, 2009

Of "Amish" Movies

Over the years I have read thousands of books. Among all those books there is one thing that has become glaringly obvious to me, and that is, no author should write about anything that they don't know about. For as sure as they do, there will be someone who reads them that will become vastly amused at the ludicrous things they try to write about knowledgeably.

I remember chuckling over the book that was talking about the vast cattle spread a rancher had that covered 120 acres and how they had a helicopter to go from one end of the ranch to the other. At the time I was living on a 160 acre farm and knew that it only takes a matter of minutes to walk from one end of the farm to the other.

Another book tried to tell me how they needed the Jaws of Life to rescue someone that was trapped inside a buggy after an accident. They obviously never saw a buggy close up, or a buggy accident, which after a bad impact will be nothing but a pile of splinters.

I have read a few of the Amish fiction books that seem to be so popular. I won't buy any but occasionally someone gives one to me and I generally end up reading it. I always come to the same conclusion. But I digress.

Last evening we watched the movie "Saving Sarah Cain" that a friend generously gave to us to watch. I tried to put myself into a mindset to enjoy a good clean movie, but there is still enough Amish blood in me that the entire movie was ridiculous.

It left me wondering, do the coverings Amish girls and women wear, look that way to anyone who has not been raised Amish? No Amish woman would be found wearing the sorry looking rags they wore. Though I have to chuckle at the thought of anyone being behind the scenes starching and ironing coverings correctly for a movie.

And the hair. Apparently they never saw or else paid no attention how Lancaster Amish girls wear their hair. Those two things alone, had me cringing all the way through the movie. And then they had to add those juicy tidbits to show their complete ignorance. The scene where everyone was burping was downright despicable. Amish do not burp to show their appreciation of food. I have been in lots of different Amish communities and have never met any that were that badly mannered.

When Caleb tried out for wrestling and said he used to hold cows down when they were birthing, had us in stitches. How ridiculous can you get. Cows are very calm creatures who rarely ever move around much in the process of birthing, and even if they decide to stand up it doesn't hurt to do that.

Taking walks through cornfields. Why would anyone want to do that? Unless the corn isn't taller than knee high. Normal cornfields are not pleasant places to take a walk, unless you enjoy cuts similar to paper cuts on your face and arms.

They did not speak the language of the Amish, and instead used German and that wasn't very good either.

There were other things too but again I digress.

My belief that you should not write or make movies about things you really don't understand has been cemented even more firmly.

I don't begrudge anyone the "joy" of reading Beverly Lewis, and Wanda Brunstetter books, or watching "Amish" movies for entertainment. Which is why they were produced. But I will be finding other things to occupy my spare moments.


  1. Well said! I agree, I don't watch a movie unless it is for pure enjoyment, but it is hard when you just want to correct everything in the movie.
    That's why I like to do needlework and quilt and make dolls and bears in my spare time!!! Oh yes and do house work and cook, he he.....
    I do enjoy reading your blog though!!!!
    Margaret B

  2. Uneducated - that's what they are. I saw that movie for fun and even I (who am in the "English" world) knew a lot of that stuff was hokey! Their hair is always fluffed just so and they have wispy sides coming out of their "kapps".

    I'm Catholic and I think it's funny when they have someone going into church and making the sign of the cross backwards or with their left hand. Authenticity isn't a prerequisite in Hollywood I'd say. Ding dongs.

    And you're right about walking through the corn fields - hello, you'd be lost for hours! It's very disorienting. The corn would have to be knee-high like you said. Hope you're doing well! See ya later, alligator!! ha ha

  3. I agree---I have read quite a few Amish books, and have often wondered how much they write is true/not true. I guess it's all for entertainment, but how many people will read these and really think that "this is the way it is if you're Amish." Thanks for a great post!

  4. I would venture to say that profit is why they write thos ebooks - even more so than entertainment. I too wondered how accurate they are. It is the same way with books writtne about New England - so many inaccuracies I want to correct. I have to agree - don't write about you don't really know!!

    Thanks for a thought provoling post!

    hugs, Linda

  5. That is really interesting. Thanks for sharing. I love the Amish and have a high respect for who they are and what they do, and so am interested in any books that have stories about them. I was wondering how those books were, so thanks for sharing. Sounds like our best bet is to by an autobiography, or a book written by an amish person.

  6. Thank you for visiting my blog today. And thank you for this well-written and well-though out post. I couldn't agree more. You would think that "they" could at least do the research!

  7. I confess I love Amish movies! But just to see how outrages and un Amish the actors are.

  8. Would you be willing to share any book or other media suggestion that does accurately portray the Amish? I'd love to learn more truth.

  9. I agree the movie was silly, but the message was that Sarah Cain had to give herself up in order to realize God's plan for her, so it wasn't a waste of time.

    I'd say to Anonymous to read Linda Byler (God Sees the Trees, Music of the Lamplight, the Buggy Spoke series) or Carrie Bender (Miriam's Journal series, Dora's Diary series, etc.) for accuracy.

    Any other suggestions out there?

  10. Thank you for your nice comment on my blog. I followed it over to yours. I read your posts with a lot of interest. I have to agree about walking through corn fields, my grandfathers corn fields were full of bugs, it was hot, the corn leaves left cuts and my grandfather chewed tobacco and left these big hunks of soggy tobacco everywhere in the fields - you had to watch where you stepped - lol.

  11. I haven't seen that movie but if it is as bad as you say I don't want to see it! I've never been much for reading books so I've never read an Amish book either. I did just see part of the Amish movie with Tim Allen and Kirsty ? in it the other day. lol Way back when that one came out I didn't believe most of it. And that was way before I even visited an Amish community. I don't know why the producers can't do a better job than that??? They often say that they research and research their characters before they make a movie. That goes to show you that they did not do any research about the true Amish at all for that movie!


  12. I am glad you found my blog.... I have often wondered what about other groups of people. I work in health care and I know the books and movies do not really represent how it is, and my daughter, who has a degree in music, said the music shows are not "real." So, I guess it is the same from any group.
    I live in Western PA and we have many Amish communities near us. Actually, one man made our dining room table, which I suspect will be in the family for generations, because it is so well made and sturdy. Now all the furniture you can buy is made in China. I would rather give an American the business.

  13. There is a great list here:

    Check out her blog-it is awesome!

    I wrote a comment the other day here, not sure if you saw it. I nominated you for the Honest Scrap award! Go to my blog and read the post and then proceed!

    Blessings, Misha

  14. Just like Hollywood, or whoever produced the movie. Any movie I have ever seen based on a Bible story is ALWAYS embellished or has been distorted, so maybe we should stick to reading the Bible as written by God. Good post!

  15. Re Anonymous:

    There are quite a few books that are good. If anyone wants a list and information on where you can buy them you can e-mail me at

  16. How true. The old advice, "write what you know" goes for movies, too.
    I find similar errors in movies about subjects I've experienced.

  17. I have seen that movie and I would have never known how wrong they got it. Funny now that you point it all out.
    I think you are totally right - people should only write what they truly know about!

  18. I love the Beverly Lewis books and I enjoy the movie but it's very different than the books. Have you read the books? Are they as far from the truth? She uses a lot of former Amish to do research so just wondering if they are better.

  19. Whew! For a minute I thought you were going to critique the link to the video I sent you on the 2 amish families that were reading their bibles and having prayer meeting and being excommunicated because of it.

    So tell me Mary Ann, how do you really feel about those books? LOL.

    I love reading your blog when you express your opinion. Your demeanor is usually so reserved and proper thats it is enjoyable to see your spunk come out.

  20. I am glad I have not seen the movie, I have not read Beverly Lewis books about Amish women.

    I have always been drawn in by the beauty of Amish Quilts! Some one had a showing here in Utah once. I was impressed. My hubby admires amish wood workers. He served a mission at 19 for our church(The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) in PA, where he gained a great love for the people there. He has always wanted to go back.

    I enjoy your opinion and stories, I love your blog.

    How is your daughter doing? Recovering well I hope.

  21. You and Dirt could go into matching tiraids, you about what you said and Dirt about anything airplane. Trust me, I think there are a lot more movies with airplanes in them than Amish.

    Your post made me smile!

  22. I enjoyed reading your take on this topic. My husband and I watched Saving Sarah Cain last night. We noted several inaccuracies (according to what we know about our local Amish community), but nonetheless.. I have to admit we both enjoyed the movie overall (for the "fun" factor). We also read Amish fiction, and now I'm really wondering... are there any good & accurate depictions of the Amish in book or movie form? Hmmm, something to ponder and research. Thank you for posting this! -Tammy

  23. I really appreciate your post, and your blog. I live in rural Ohio near the Pennsylvania state border, there are many Amish here. Although I've grown up here where so many Amish are I really don't know much about their beliefs or what everyday life is like for them, other than the obvious differences in clothes and riding in buggies. So it's incredibly interesting to read about your perspective on things, and get a little glimpse into what Amish life is truly like. I love hearing your thoughts on movies and books about Amish, and in all honesty I would never know what were truths and what weren't if you hadn't pointed them out. It is good advice to not believe all that you see or read, thanks for reminding us! LoL*

    Thank you for sharing! :)

  24. I watched the movie one night last week when it was on the Lifetime network, of all things. I read the book that the movie is based on, The Redemption of Sarah Cain by Beverly Lewis. In all fairness to the author, the movie was NOTHING like the book. I, too, found it ridiculous, and the only thing I know about the Amish is what I've read from Amish fiction and from non-fiction accounts of former Amish like yourself.

  25. This post had me in stictches,

    I read one series about the "Amish" by Beverly Lewis, I understand somewehre in her family she had Amish roots. These books and fanfiction alike are beyond silly. They have romanticised a culture and set the Amish on a pedestal that they will never attain. Because Amish do not conform to society's ideas of normality, the implication of ignorant, backward, illiterate, vulgar, perfect and practically imbecilic persons are rife within literature and visual arts.

    I remember one movie about Amish and a boy witnessed some crime, for me who is not even Amish realised how ridiculous their portrayal was.

    And it's true Amish women excell in sewing and stictching, if a family went around with less than stellar clothing, the women would have alot to answer for.

    I am truly sorry for them, I dont agree with a few of their practises but society today has taken an unbelievable notion towards this culture.

  26. Yes, people are that ignorant about headcoverings. I've had people think I'm Amish when I've worn an Israeli tichel (triangle scarf tied around head and sort of form-fitting a chignon) or a snood (hairnet, like worn in the Renaissance). If it's white, they assume you must be Amish.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I love hearing your thoughts.