A Happy Accident

Last night I had a happy accident… while channel surfing, I came upon “Sweet Land,” a delightful movie based on the short story, “A Gravestone Made of Wheat” by Will Weaver.

“Sweet Land” now ranks up with my favorite films about goodness… right alongside “Cinema Paraiso” , “Enchanted April”  and “Billy Elliot”

In part, the story examines the fate of destitute Europeans during post World War I. Among the thousands who joined the migration from the conflict-ravaged continent to America was Inge Altenberg. The parents of a Norwegian immigrant farmer named Olaf Torvik, worked out an agreement whereby she would be allowed to immigrate for the purpose of marrying their son. But Inge was not warmly received in the Minnesota farming village of Audubon where Torvik lived. A German with no identity documents was not a welcome addition to the community…

One of the many charming scenes of the film shows the town’s skeptical Lutheran minister trying to speak with Inge. She cannot understand English and in an effort to communicate, he reads to her from a book of poetry. She is drawn into the lyricism of John Keats’ “A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever.”

However the minister, and in fact the whole town soon shun her and the county clerk refuses to marry her and Olaf.

They are forced to openly live together, and are judged as pariahs by the community. No one will help them harvest their huge field. So they set about doing so on their own, completely by hand. The film does an excellent job of showing how they are able to force their bodies to superhuman effort until the crop is completely in. Despite the disapproval of Inge and Olaf, the townspeople are impressed.

The neighbors are further moved by the young couple when they defend a family with nine children who the bank is evicting from their farm. “Agriculture and banking do not mix,” says Olaf.

The short story and DVD are both available on Amazon… Christmas is coming up and either would make a lovely gift for someone you love.



Filed under Writing

6 responses to “A Happy Accident

  1. Borghild Joa

    This sounds like a very typical Norwegian Lutheran attitude in those years, exported from the old country to Amerika. Remnants can still be found in the small villages in the fjords.

    • Yes, the film points this out. For example one of the “grave offences” that the young German woman commited was using too many coffee beans when she brewed the morning pot!

  2. What a nice post–thanks for the bump, Joanna. On behalf of the director, Ali Selim, and myself, we greatly appreciate your support of indie films.

    Will Weaver

    • Thank you for your comment. I think the indie film industry is so important. My husband and I often see great ones at our local (outdoors, very cool) theater Casa de la 68 Elena Poniatowska If you contact them, I bet they’d enjoy presenting yours.

    • I’d LOVE to see your film, Sr. Weaver, but here’s what happened when I tried to put it on my Amazon “Wish list”– I immediately received the dreaded message, to the effect that they will “not ship to my default location.” What they meant, in effect, is that they’d not send to my Mexican PO Box, and/or my Mexican home address.

      This is one of the disappointments I find here–the immense distrust of Mexico by non-Mexican publishing companies. At least that’s how I take it.

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