3. Friendly Persuasion (William Wyler, 1956, 137 min) 8/10
Quakers in Indiana during the American Civil War. I'm grateful for this challenge because I'm not sure I would have found this movie otherwise. Quakers are mostly know for their pacifist beliefs, and have been used in other war films and in a good number of other Westerns. The movie follows a Quaker family around as different aspects of their faith come into question, at first through small every day things and then later their pacifism is called into question when the war approaches their doorstep.
The father buys an organ even though the movie claims Quakers were against instruments of any kind. It is revealed that the mother might have danced in her youth, and the daughter is caught dancing with her crush, dancing being another thing the movie is claiming Quakers are against. The daughter's crush is also a soldier. The youngest son continually asks about the war, and when the soldier visit he asks excitedly if they had killed any "rebs." The eldest son has the largest question of faith about whether or not his will stick with pacifism or fight in the war.
Pauline Kael criticized the depiction of the Quaker family here saying that they "are there only to violate their convictions." Quakers also seem split on the depiction here, some criticizing pacifist decisions made in the final act, but there is also a fantastic review here https://web.archive.org/web/20130520133 ... fl122.html
that I'm going to pull a lot from. These aren't the caricatures you'll see in other Westerns, the family and their questions of faith are very realistic. The family clearly holds their beliefs sincerely, but as any human of faith, they fall short of these. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The question of pacifism when your family and life are in danger is not as easy one. It would take incredible conviction to truly turn the other cheek when soldiers come to steal your food and livestock, an when those being stolen is the best case scenario, they could burn your farm down or simply kill you. The movie does a very good job of having different family members choose different levels of pacifism. For one case, I wish a little more time had been saved to look at the aftermath of that decision, but the movie was already very long. The review also points out that in real life, there were Quakers in Indiana who did join the fighting.
Beyond this pacifism question though, I absolutely loved the relationships in this movie. Both the father and mother seemed like fantastic level headed parents. The mother is such a well written character, the most steadfast in her beliefs. The relationship between the mother and father also seemed very loving. I really like the father's friendly competitions with the Methodist neighbor. The whole tone of the movie right up until the war parts is very fun, though I think some would find it grating. Overall, I'm just very happy to have watched this movie.
1. The Juniper Tree (Nietzchka Keene, 1990, 78 min) 7/10
2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Sam Raimi, 2022, 126 min) 5/10