Wednesday, January 10, 2007

One of My Favorite Films

In Richard Pearce’s 1979 film, Heartland, Conchata Ferrel plays a widow who comes to Wyoming with her daughter to keep house for a Scottish farmer played by Rip Torn. The farmer and the widow are married in a lovely scene. Then a harrowing sequence shows the woman in painful, extended labor, alone with her young daughter in the middle of winter. Finally, victoriously, she gives birth. The baby dies in infancy. The young girl watches her mother mechanically scrub the wooden floor. Come spring, the woman is hanging wash with her daughter nearby when she suddenly collapses to her knees in wordless screams. The girl runs in fear to the farmer who appears out the barn door. He holds her, but lets his wife pick herself up with the help of the washline and go on with her work.

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