Wednesday, November 27, 2013

DVD Review: When Calls The Heart

When Calls the Heart directed by Michael Landon, Jr.
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Format: DVD, 89 minutes
Based On: The novel by Janette Oke

Starring: Maggie Grace, Stephen Amell, Poppy Drayton, Daniel Sharman, Cherie Lunghi, and Christopher Villiers with Jean Smart and Lori Loughlin

About the Movie:
This is a Hallmark Channel hit movie, based on Janette Oke's When Calls the Heart. It also serves as a pilot for a new TV series coming in 2014. 

When Calls the Heart (DVD) is the story of Elizabeth Thatcher, a cultured young school teacher in 1910 who, through the discovery of her aunt's secret diary, finds the courage to leave her big city home to accept a teaching position in a frontier coal mining town.  And in the process, she also finds the potential for love with a handsome Royal Canadian Mountie.

My Review:

When Calls the Heart, directed by Michael Landon, Jr., is loosely based on Janette Oke's novel of the same name. I say "loosely" because, while the film includes much of the novel's plot, it serves largely as a vehicle to launch a new television series starting in January 2014 inspired by Oke's book. Additionally, in a turnabout, Oke and her daughter are writing a book based on the movie, focused on Beth Thatcher (the niece) titled Where Courage Calls that will release in the Spring of 2014.

It's not necessary to have read the book When Calls the Heart in order to enjoy the movie. This was actually my experience. Never having read the book, I sat down to watch the film, curious to find out what the story was about. The movie introduces a younger Elizabeth (Beth) Thatcher, who happens to be the niece of the novel's protagonist. Beth finds her Aunt's diary and reads about her adventures as a schoolteacher in the Canadian West. And Beth soon finds herself following a very similar path.

The movie's storyline alternates between Beth's timeline and Aunt Elizabeth's life. The two plot lines are woven together expertly and seamlessly, keeping your interest equally engaged.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and found the whole cast, especially Maggie Grace, captivating. The film is well-edited. Landon has trimmed any fat from the book and added new characters, while remaining true to the spirit of Oke's original work.

I liked the movie so well that I immediately picked up a copy of the book. You can buy a special movie tie-in edition which has artwork and photos from the movie as well as a letter from Janette Oke.

When I read the book, I realized that some of the pieces of young Beth's story are borrowed from Elizabeth's tale in the novel. Aside from plot variences, the main way in which the book is different from the novel is that the novel spends a little more time on the history of the period, while also devoting more time to setting the scene before Elizabeth begins her teaching foray. The movie is trim and taut, and cuts straight to the chase. Each, however, is a joy -- heartwarming, funny, and inspirational.

Verdict: 4.5 of 5 stars. Highly Recommended! If you are a fan of the Anne of Green Gables films and TV series, you'll love both Landon's movie and Oke's book. I know I plan to continue reading the books while also keeping an eye out for the TV series which premieres January 12, 2014.

About Janette Oke:

Janette Oke is a distinguished writer, having been honored with the President's Award by the ECPA and the Life Impact Award by the CBA as well as the Gold Medallion and the Christy Award.

Born in Champion, Alberta, Canada, Oke is best known for her award-winning Love Come Softly book series. Among her other series is the Canadian West Series of which Whens Calls the Heart is the first title.

When Calls the Heart Movie on the Web: 

 Website Trailer  Upcoming TV series on Facebook

*Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received the above DVD for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."



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