- 1 hr 36 min
Heartland portrays the hard and challenging lives of early American West settlers, based on the real life experiences from the book, “Letters of a Woman Homesteader.” In 1910, a young Denver widow, Elinore Randall (Conchata Ferrell), has a seven-year old daughter, Jerrine (Megan Folsom), to support so she advertises her skills as a housekeeper, though she dreams of one day owning her own land. Clyde Stewart (Rip Torn) is a rancher and widower, who hires her to look after his humble two-room home in Burnt Fork, Wyoming. Elinore and daughter arrive and find the place to be an isolated and lonely land with their closest neighbor, Grandma Landauer (Lilia Skala), living ten miles away. Clyde and his ranch hand, Jack (Barry Primus) are hard-working but life on the range is a hard proposition. The film accurately depicts the harsh condition for early ranchers, and the brutality of everyday life of slaughtering pigs, skinning cattle and losing animals to starvation during the long, bleak winter. At first, Clyde is taciturn and uncommunicative, if kind, to the new two arrivals, and the demanding work life leaves little time for anything but survival. On the advice of Grandma Landauer, who warns that the long lonely winter will be brutal and desolate, Elinore strives to break through Clyde’s gruff personality. They slowly develop a relationship that leads to marriage. Elinore becomes pregnant, and starts labor in the midst of blizzard, and Clyde is unable to find help, so she is left to give birth on her own. Though their lives continue to be a daily struggle, the Stewarts do manage to create a working farm. This realistic and harsh portrayal of life for early pioneers was chosen as one of the Top Ten Films of the Year by the prestigious National Board of Review.