Monday, August 5, 2013

Dean Butler with Legacy Documentaries: Review of Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura

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  Are you a fan of Little House on the Prairie?  Have you seen the entire series but still want more?  Legacy Documentaries has the answer.  One of the executive producers of this video company is Dean Butler, best known for his role as Almanzo Wilder in the Little House series.  He has produced two documentaries for fans: Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura and Little House on the Prairie: The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  We received the video about Almanzo Wilder to watch and review.

I remember watching the series as a kid and really liking the character of Almanzo, so I was thrilled to receive this video.  I thought I would have liked The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder more, but I can't imagine that now that I've seen this one.  The first part of the documentary focuses on Almanzo and draws greatly from Laura Ingalls' second book, Farmer Boy, which highlights one year in Almanzo's life.  The homestead where he lived during this year still exists, so the documentary shows reenactments of life here.  The second part on the DVD talks all about the homestead.  It shows how the house was restored and shows school and other groups attending events here.  It looks like a wonderful place for a field trip!

As I watched the video, I could not help but be transported to that era, one that was simpler yet more difficult in many respects.  No cell phones or computers?  I'd be okay with that.  Raising livestock and farming?  That's where I'd fall short.  Of course, if I grew up with it, I'd know it I suppose.  There are a lot of modern conveniences we have today that would be hard to do without now that we are used to them.  I would love, though, to be able to bake by just knowing what goes in and in what amounts by just eyeballing it.

It was interesting to learn how poor the Ingalls family was and how seemingly well-to-do the Wilder family was and how Laura detailed that in her book about Almanzo.  I liked learning about the difference in age between husbands and wives.  Because there weren't a lot of people of marrying age in town, men tended to court younger women; and it was totally normal.  Again, another sign that life is so much different now.

The video talked about Almanzo becoming a man with the opportunity to break a horse.  His father seemed so strict about him staying away from the foals before they were broken.  All Almanzo wanted was a horse of his own.  After returning a man's wallet he had found, he was given a reward which he asked his father if he could use to buy his own horse.  His father realized this was Almanzo's only desire and allowed him to have the foal in their barn as his own.

It's been quite a while since I've watched Little House on the Prairie, but after watching Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura, I want to sit down with my kids (my daughter, at the very least) and watch the series again.  It makes me want to take a trip to New York to visit the Wilder Homestead.  For now, I'll just have to watch the video over and over again.  It is only $21.95.  I did receive it for free to review, but in my estimation it is worth every penny.  Legacy Documentaries stands behind it so much that they offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you aren't satisfied.  Anybody of any age can watch this and enjoy it.


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