Making the Grades
To everything there is a season... and for Missie and Willie LaHaye (Erin Cottrell and Logan Bartholomew) the time has come to start a life independent of her parents. Joining a wagon train, the overly optimistic newlyweds set out to find some land of their own.
But there is a reason the West is called wild. As they settle into their rough and rugged homestead, the pioneers are faced with a variety of trails, such as a late start to the season, some Indian sightings, and the watchful eye of a trio of no-good drifters on the lookout for easy hold-up opportunities.
Despite these skiffs of dark clouds, the couple is determined to make hay while the sun shines and lay up a good life for themselves. Beaming with Christian charity, the pair soon befriends a young orphan (Graham Phillips), their Native American neighbor (Irene Bedard) and some bedraggled cowboys in need of work (W. Morgan Sheppard, James Tupper, Frank McRea and Johann Urb). Meanwhile Missie corresponds with her family, making regular reports of their progress and sharing the happy news about her pregnancy.
Love's Long Journey is the third in a group of Hallmark Channel movies based on the novels of Janette Oke, a Christian author who has enjoyed much success writing fictional tales about the lives of early settlers. Michael Landon Jr. (son of the Michael Landon who produced and starred in The Little House on the Prairie TV show) has helped to adapt her stories and then direct the teleplays. Perhaps that explains this production's made-for-TV feel, resemblances to the aforementioned series and inclusion of religious references (like quoting from the Bible).
With that in mind, it comes as little surprise the plot falls into the well-traveled rut of many a warm and fuzzy tale. What is unexpected though, is a scene where three masked men ride onto the LaHaye's ranch and threaten to harm those they love if they don't hand over all their hard earned savings. While there are other instances of violence depicted in the movie, most are verbal (a ruffian says he'd "like a woman") or implied (shot's heard off screen). So it comes as a sharp contrast when a character is shown being thrown to the ground after a bullet hits his body at point blank range.
Fans of the past films (Love Comes Softly and Love's Enduring Promise) are likely to overlook such brief flaws in favor of the script's longer and stronger messages. These include portrayals of brotherly love, not judging others, and forgiving one's enemies. These timeless virtues are appropriate for every season.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Love’s Long Journey.
Although this movie is set in the 1800’s, what modern philosophies does the character of Missie possess? What other anachronisms can you spot? What do you think life would really be like if you were a pioneer?