Valentine’s Day and our annual celebrations of love have passed. Many hearts have been warmed with cards and chocolates sent and received, flowers brought home, special dinners out or in and gifts as love tokens given. Some hearts have singularly celebrated with self-tending and extra pampering. Other hearts have felt the ache of aloneness.
Whichever heart you know to be your own, I hope your heart finds happiness in reflecting upon the love story of the two people who caused your heart to beat. An online movie, a love story, I stumbled across in my search for solace in a bumpy time, got me to thinking about my own beginning and my parents’ story that led to the making of me fourteen years after they married.
“Sweet Land,” an auspicious film debut given to us by writer-director Ali Selim begins with the quote, “Let us hope that we are all preceded in the world by a love story.”
According to a New York Times review written by Jeannette Catsoulis on October 18, 2006, the day of the movie’s Manhattan opening:
"There’s a tartness at the center of “Sweet Land,” Ali Selim’s unabashedly sentimental tale of a mail-order bride and the community that eventually comes to accept her.
Unfolding primarily in flashbacks to 1920 Minnesota, the movie follows a strong-willed German immigrant named Inge (Elizabeth Reaser) as she arrives to marry Olaf (Tim Guinee), a farmer she has never seen.
Less than thrilled to have a German—and a Socialist—infiltrate his Norwegian flock, the local minister (John Heard) refuses to perform the marriage. As the locals follow his lead and ostracize the bewildered Inge, we’re reminded that anti-immigrant sentiment is hardly new in America.
Yet “Sweet Land” never condemns, showing instead how basic decency prevails when survival depends on cooperation.
The film’s guileless, heartfelt style veers perilously close to corniness at times, but the superb cast (including an unusually restrained Alan Cumming as Olaf’s alarmingly fertile best friend) dares you to mock.
Inspired by the Minnesota writer Will Weaver’s short story “A Gravestone Made of Wheat,” “Sweet Land” celebrates a gutsy, old-fashioned sort of love, one born of backbreaking work and shared difficulties.
[The German born and educated] Inge brings Keats and music into Olaf’s plain existence. In return, he offers her the land, which Mr. Selim lovingly presents in scene after scene of glorious 35-millimeter images, until the endless wheat fields and magnificent skyline seem reason enough to endure."
“Reason enough to endure.” This is that time of year when many of us are experiencing the need to endure—the so-slow end of winter, an unexpected unpleasantry, a bumpy time or a dream, like spring, delayed in morphing into reality. For me caring hearts and art make the enduring easier, and so I seek out the warmth of my husband’s embrace and the company of uplifting friends and companions. I watch love stories painted on film. I read images on a lovely new set of salon cards. I look again and again at the amazing HEART & SOUL exhibition brought to artCentral by the wonderfully talented artists of the Joplin Regional Artists Coalition.
Through March 15, 2020, as we eagerly await the advent of spring’s green, you too can view this heart-warming, soul-inspiring collection found throughout the galleries of our elegant and serene Hyde House. Weekend gallery hours are Fridays and Saturdays, 12:00-5:00 p.m. and Sundays, 1:00-5:00 p.m. For more information call (417) 358-4404 or visit www.artcentralcarthage.org online.
In HEART & SOUL there is art that tells us of love stories. Perhaps these will cause you to “hope that we are all preceded in the world by a love story”, and you will come to remember that a love story beginning is very true for you.