A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that When Calls the Heart is a historical drama based on faith-based author Janette Oke's bestselling book series about the Canadian frontier. Both central characters are stellar role models, high in integrity, compassion, and faith and are unwilling to let others' expectations decide their fate. The leisurely pace might lose the attention of younger kids, but, if you can get yours to watch, it's a beautiful story with roots in relationships, self-empowerment, and the enduring power of love. Aside from a tense encounter with armed robbers and a few other reminders of the harsh frontier life -- including mention of the death of a young boy -- there's nothing to fear in sharing this story with the whole family.
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What's the story?
Elizabeth Thatcher (Polly Draper) is vivacious and determined, eager to embark on a teaching career and to inspire the next generation of young students. But when she's faced with a teaching assignment that would take her far from her life of privilege and society to a primitive frontier town out West, she struggles to discern her true calling. The timely discovery of her long-lost Aunt Elizabeth's (Maggie Grace) diary immerses her in the elder's experiences with just that kind of decision. Ultimately she's inspired by her aunt's account of love and loss in her own small prairie town and she embarks on a journey to her new life, accompanied by Edward (Daniel Sharman), a family friend who's charged with her safe travels. What she finds when she arrives will test her resolve, but her faith in God and in herself will see her through the challenges ahead.
Is it any good?
WHEN CALLS THE HEART is the second of Janette Oke's book series to be transformed into a beautiful historical drama by the Hallmark Channel, preceded by the beloved Love Comes Softly movie collection. Oke's compelling characters make easy inspiration for TV, and the two Elizabeths about whom this tale is told are no exception. Bred in East Coast society and groomed for lives of money and status, they choose different paths that bring them face to face with fear, pain, and loss but that also show them the true meaning of love that conquers all. They challenge expectations and defy the odds, not in an antagonistic way but in a way that makes you want to drum up a similar supply of inner strength.
This beautifully scripted adaptation leaves no gaps in its hops from the time of young Elizabeth to that of her older aunt, thanks to the binding agent of Aunt Elizabeth's journal. Their lives mirror each other, but each distinct personality shines, and the story never feels repetitive. If you're searching for a worry-free movie with something for the whole family, you can't go wrong with this quality period piece.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how each Elizabeth is a role model. Can her determination be emulated? How do today's challenges compare to the severity of those of 19th-century frontier life?
Kids: Where do you get your inner strength? Have you ever made it through something you thought would be too hard? How does it feel to do so?
Faith is a recurring theme in this story, and, although it's assumed the characters practice Christianity, the generic message of faith can cross denominations. Is the belief in a higher power a strong force in your life? If so, how does it guide your actions on a daily basis?
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