A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps Parent Guide
A useful resource for understanding the Cold War and the continuing mission of the Peace Corps.
Parent Movie Review
“A Towering Task” premieres on May 22nd 2020 in a virtual theatrical release. For more information, check this link.
Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, the Peace Corps has seen over 230,000 volunteers deployed to dozens of countries in need of assistance. From its Cold War beginnings, the Peace Corps has extended across the globe, offering young Americans an opportunity to represent their country and help others. Rocked by administrative changes, budget cuts, Nixonian relocations, and scandals, A Towering Task explores how the Peace Corps has survived - and the changes it has had to make.
Documentaries tend to walk a fine line between entertainment and education. A Towering Task leans almost entirely into education, with minimal editing and little extraneous detail. It means that the film can pack in a lot of detailed information and fascinating interviews with former Peace Corps administrators, volunteers, and even President Jimmy Carter – all of which comes at the cost of the pacing, which starts to drag a little after the one hour mark.
That’s not a deal breaker, at least for me. I’m willing to admit that my knowledge of the Peace Corps was functionally limited to “that thing Kennedy did and Nixon hated, probably a hearts-and-minds type deal”. While none of that is fundamentally incorrect, it is a tiny part of the picture, and watching a more complete view unfold is both worthwhile and interesting. Learning is fun, and anyone who tells you different just enjoys being dumb. (Of course, opinions differ about what subjects are fun to learn more about…)
As with many largely educational films, A Towering Task has almost no content concerns. You could show this to a six-year-old: they’d be bored nigh unto tears but there’s no thing that could disturb them. I’ve seen public news broadcasts with more objectionable content. This is a phenomenal resource for junior high or high school teachers (or home-schooling parents) looking to explore the Cold War and the changing priorities of the American government and the international system.
The balancing act of educational and entertaining is a tough one, but I respect A Towering Task for fully committing to the former. Is it slow? Yep. Is it visually interesting? Not usually. Is it a fascinating insight into the development of a historically significant program? Absolutely. And that should be worth a lot more than the first two considerations in this context.Directed by Alana DeJoseph. Starring Annette Bening. Running time: 107 minutes. Theatrical release May 22, 2020. Updated May 21, 2020
Watch the trailer for A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps
A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps
Rating & Content Info
Why is A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps rated Not Rated? A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: There is occasional footage of war, but no one is shown being injured. There is a reference to a homicide.
Sexual Content: There are references to sexual assault and harassment.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated May 21, 2020
A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps Parents' Guide
Have you ever been concerned about people suffering from war, famine, natural disasters or poverty? Have you ever wanted to help? What have you done?
For more information about the Peace Corps, you can check out their home page here:
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Thinking about volunteering with the Peace Corps? Plenty of alumni have written books to share their experiences. You can try Dillon Banerjee’s The Insider’s Guide to the Peace Corps What to Know Before You Go. Moritz Thomsen shares his experience in Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Leigh Marie Dannhauser shares her story in Nothing Works But Everything Works Out: My Peace Corps Experience in the West Region of Cameroon. Pat and Bernie Alter have collected stories from Central and South America for their book: Gather the Fruit One by One: 50 Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories. A collection of experiences in Africa comes together in Aaron Barlow’s One Hand Does Not Catch a Buffalo: 50 Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories.
You can learn about the history of the Peace Corps in Stanley Meisler’s When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years.
Related home video titles:
For those interested in depictions of the Kennedy administration, 13 Days focuses on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and stars Bruce Greenwood as John F Kennedy.
Another documentary about Cold War leaders is Meeting Gorbachev, directed and hosted by Werner Herzog, and features unbelievable interviews with Gorbachev himself. It’s hard to imagine a better resource in understanding one of the most influential leaders of the Soviet Union.