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The Education of Little Tree -- PAGE TWO

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The Education of Little Tree -- Page One

The Education of Little Tree (1997)

Price: $14.95
Rated: PG
Starring: James Cromwell, Joseph Ashton, et al.
Director: Richard Friedenberg

Edition Details:
NTSC format (US and Canada only)
Color, Closed-captioned, HiFi Sound, Surround Sound, NTSC
ASIN: 6304925158

Editorial Reviews

In 1935, an 8-year-old orphaned boy is sent to live in the Tennessee mountains with his grandparents. He doesn't yet know that he is half Cherokee, on his grandmother's side. As he learns about life and the Cherokee "way" from his grandparents, Little Tree's sensitivity to nature and to others grows. At first it might seem easy to dismiss this movie as hokey, especially when Little Tree's Scottish grandfather teaches him to make whiskey and he befriends a dog. But the film gains emotional power when Little Tree becomes close to an older Cherokee who tells him about the Trail of Tears. When the government places Little Tree in an Indian school, where he is abused physically and psychologically, the tough issue of the forced assimilation of Native Americans isn't glossed over. Excellent performances and a gripping story make this well worth watching with children ages 8 and up.

An interesting side note: Forrest Carter, who wrote the book the movie is based on, was a one-time KKK member and speechwriter for George Wallace. It's hard to imagine how a former white supremacist could write such a moving tale about racism. Despite the controversy surrounding Carter, this sensitive film deserves to be taken on its own terms. --Elisabeth Keating

From Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide
An 8-year-old boy, half-white/half-Cherokee, goes to live with his grandparents in the backwoods of Tennessee in 1935 and is taught the way of life and the land. Beautifully photographed family film never fully takes hold, but fine performances and solid values make it pleasant viewing. Copyright© Leonard Maltin, 1998

Beautiful movie teaching simple but profound values, December 11, 1998
Reviewer: ricks@tomax.com from Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Wonderfully photographed, expertley directed and acted. The message is simple but true: Help each other through life with love and respect. A rare family movie. Some profanity but not gratuitous. Historically real and enlightening. Some scenes might be frightening to small children. It's been a long time since a movie has moved me like this one did. I think anyone eight years and older could appreciate this richly done story.

Great portrayal of Cherokee Native American spirituality, December 8, 1998
Reviewer: wahoozballs@netscape.com from Buzzard Lips,Virginia,N.C. & Tenn.
Despite the positive light shed on the Native American culture,the white mountain folks are grossly stereotyped. The moonshining industry depicted in East Tennesee is true to life...it's just a shame that the main character Little Tree is shown actively learning this trade and working in it as a child 8-10 years old. With a few changes, this movie could have been true G-rated family fare. As a native American, I would still highly recomend the movie, but not for under 12 years old. It could not be shown in schools in most localities.

LIFE'S EXPERIENCES, September 10, 2000
Reviewer: Bonita L. Davis from Decatur, Georgia
Nineteen hundred and thirty-five was a pivotal year for the eight year old boy called Little Tree. It was the time when his mountain grandfather and Cherokee grandmother came to retrieve him from a relative determined to break his spirit. These two remarkable people take their grandson into the mountains where his real education begins. Reminising about that time, the adult Little Tree's voice shares with us his story, his heritage and his determination to be the person that he is regardless of the hardships which come.
Listen to his story as we're taken into the Smokey Mountains of Tennesee where some Cherokees were fortunate to hide after being on the Trail of Tears. Hear Willow John's tale of his people that he passes down to Little Tree. In sharing the Cherokee story, Willow John insures that his people will never die. For their story lives in their young people who will carry it to their children.
The scenery of the Smoky mountains is fantastic. You get to know the mountain people during the depression. See grandfather make the best corn whisky in the area as he tries to hide from the revenuers. Feel the compassion that a young boy has for a little girl only to have the prejudice of her father stand in their way.
Learn the painful lesson of Native American children torn from their families, sent to a boarding school, stripped of their names and language and forced to suffer indignities which no child should suffer. Those sordid parts of American history makes you want to cry in sadness and anger. Little Tree is able to endure even at his young age due to those life's experiences and lessons taught to him from his grandparents. These lessons are not found in a book but are read from the heart.
This is an excellent movie that deals with identity, loss of innocence, prejudice, poverty and bureaucratic insensitivity. Through it all a young boy's spirit stays vibrant as ever. Sentimentality won't be found here. Love, dignity and pride are what endures. Take heart the lessons of Little Tree.

Life from another perspective, April 18, 2000
Reviewer: Kory Godfrey from Rexburg, Idaho
This movie is very powerful. One to make you stop and think how intolerant we have been in the past. I felt that it accurately portrayed the book. (Something that very few movies can pull off.) It allows you to see the "Trail of Tears" in a whole new perspective. The acting is well done, and the profound, homespun wisdom should make us all miss a venerable, aged loved one that has passed onto their own "understanding." If you want a good heart-warming story that will bring the tears to you and teach your children sound morals, it doesn't get much better than this. WATCH IT!

Wonderful Movie, March 22, 2000
Reviewer: A viewer from USA
This movie is very heartwarming about love and family but also heartbreaking.

Brittoney from Oklahoma, March 5, 2000
Reviewer: A viewer from Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Oh My gosh! I loved this movie sooooo much! It was my favorite movie. If you haven't seen it you have to. It's about a kid that does not want to live with his mean aunt and he goes to live with his grandparents that he adores. They adore him to. They teach him alot. He enjoyes it very much! He meets alot of new people. My favorite part is when his grandpa teaches him how to make moonshine. It is a very heart warming movie! I just love it! Thanx 4 reading!

Education We All Need!, February 17, 2000
Reviewer: A viewer from U.S.
This is such a great movie! It is a good family movie, which is hard to come by anymore. It also shows the innocence of a child that is almost lost in our society today. It is so heart warming to see a movie where a child is happy with what he has or doesn't have. And he is so respectful of his elders and does not care if they are poor and don't have "book smarts". He just loves them for being who they are. Little Tree is not the only one being educated. We are all a little wiser after seeing this wonderful movie! This is definately a must see!

Inspiring, February 5, 2000
Reviewer: Laura from Arkansas
I fell in love with the Smokies as a child when we'd go to Virginia every summer to visit my dad's family. I've been back to Tennessee numerous times as an adult and never tire of the beautiful scenery. The movie dealt with things dearest to my heart: The Smokies, the old ways, spirituality. I'm inspired by it, and as someone else said, I've watched the movie twice since I rented it and plan to watch it with another loved one tomorrow. It's the kind of movie you want to share with the people closest to you because, like Little Tree's grandma said in the movie, when you come on something good in life you gotta share it with someone else so the good can just keep on going.

The Education of Little Tree, December 9, 1999
Reviewer: Thomas Basham from missplanted in Flordia since 1981
As a breed that was born in 1949 I can truley relate to this story . To this day I want to go back to the mountians for my final Resting. You must go to the smokies for pictures just do not do justice. Let my bones be covered by the rocks of Mother Earth there.

In the great understandin', November 29, 1999
Reviewer: Lisa Coffman from USA
Sometimes there are just things that hurt a heart beyond words. Beyond understandin'. And you can wait a real long time. Till one day day maybe or never, the understandin comes. The Education of Little Tree came to me as an understandin.

This is a heart warming movie that is a must to be seen!, September 12, 1999
Reviewer: A viewer from East Tennessee, USA
Despite the fact that the book on which the movie was based was a fraud (sold as an autobiography, which it wasn't), this movie was wonderfully done. Growing up in the East TN and Southwest Virginia mountains with a Scotch/Irish Grandpa and a part Cherokee Grandma, I saw a lot of our family in this movie. It is true to the depression era of East Tennessee (and yes, a lot of children participated in moonshining). I highly recommend the movie to everyone. It's a shame that movies like this have to be made in Canada, but other than "Smoke Signals" so far all the truer stories of Native American People are. Maybe one day our country will accept our heritage and do this.

Having lived, August 21, 1999
Reviewer: smoore7822@aol.com from Savannah, GA.
Having experienced life as 1/4 Cherokee, and being ridiculed because my family's history is from the eastern part of Kentucky, I thought this was a fine portrayal of people and families, getting back to what should be most important in life. Children, tradition, and the true values of life itself. The author and writer has accomplished a great task in providing us with a true portrayal of the good and the hard times, that we, as People, no matter what race, should never take for granted.

The Education of Little Tree -- PAGE TWO


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