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(Published: 2006-11-14)

Sometimes a soft whisper can be clearly heard above a loud roar. In “The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape,” I write about Mainbocher’s ‘no-dress dress’ in my “Less is More” chapter. It’s a classic example of how understated style and elegance can stand out in a fashion world carried away by flamboyance and excess.

There is a similar Trend/Countertrend affect in the world of movies. I am often amazed at how Hollywood bombards us with remakes, sequels, and prequels, utilizing well-worn formulas that they believe still have merit. To the average theatergoer, it seems as though the studios are forever promoting violent movies with over-the-top special effects designed to ‘shock and awe,’ in order to capture our attention and our entertainment dollars.

One quickly realizes that all that noise doesn’t have an important message. Those movies are just super-hyped glossy versions of somebody’s outdated idea of ‘the next big thing.’ The big budgets, super stars, and archaic formulas have little relevance to what’s important in our lives today. As a result, despite their big noise and big budgets, they end up being quickly relegated to obscurity, and often to DVD in the blink of an eye.

So, how wonderful to discover a little treasure of a movie, shot on location in Minnesota, that is a quiet celebration of a love that is bigger than the prairie on which it was filmed. Based on Will Weaver’s short story, “A Gravestone Made of Wheat,” “Sweet Land” is a poignant story of land, love, and the American immigrant experience. It’s an independent production that uses broad sweeping shots of nothingness and understated performances to tell a universal story of love and discovery.

“Sweet Land” is also a paradox on many levels. The Village Voice calls it “a gorgeously realized romance…(that) achieves breathtaking levels of color and clarity from old-fashioned 35MM.” Visually, the experience is a fresh look at an old story viewed through old eyes, or perhaps more accurately, old lenses. A unique take on “Everything Old is New Again,” “Sweet Land” celebrates an old-fashioned love in a way that is incredibly relevant today. It’s a small quiet story that delivers a powerful message that stays with you long after you’ve left the theater.

The reason it does is simple. “Sweet Land” taps into the paradoxical aspect of our humanness. We all want to fit in, to belong. Inge, a young German girl, arrives in Minnesota without proper immigration papers in 1920 to marry a Norwegian farmer named Olaf. Her German heritage is suspicious. She is different. The residents of the small prairie farm community view her as a dangerous influence, and she is forbidden to marry Olaf.

On the other hand, besides wanting to belong, we all want to be appreciated as unique individuals. By the end of the movie it becomes clear that Inge values hard work just as the others do: she eventually ‘fits in.’ Ironically, however, it is her very uniqueness that ultimately endears her to the initially cold and unwelcoming neighbors.

Sweet Land’s simple message whispers softly to our hearts, creating a clear, memorable impression. Roger Moore, in his review for the Orlando Sentinel, said: “Good movies don’t need to have edge. ‘The edge’ moves, from day to day. The heart is constant. Touch that and you’ve done something.”

To that, I would add, you’ve ultimately connected with what’s important.

Visit for more information.

Sweet Land

Robyn Waters is president and founder of RW Trend, LLC. She is the author of The Trendmaster’s Guide: Get a Jump on What Your Customer Wants Next, and The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape. Learn more about Robyn at All Rights Reserved.

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