Teaching Ulrich's Midwife's Tale/The Film Disc. Oct 1997


Query From Theresa Kaminski tkaminski@uwsp.edu 14 Oct 1997

Has anyone seen the movie version of "A Midwife's Tale"? It would be helpful to know how well it conforms to the book and if the quality is at the level of "Three Sovereigns for Sarah" and "Mary Silliman's War."

Responses:
From Seth Wigderson sethw@maine.maine.edu 15 Oct 1997

I have seen the film (twice) and it is excellent! However, it is not simply a filmed
version of the book. It is a film about the book. Part of it is re-creations of some of the book's scenes, very well done and very well acted. But much of it is about writing such a book, the problems and rewards. So it also contains very interesting parts on Ulrich and how she works.

It has been shown in Maine, people liked it very much. To anyone with the least interest in Women's History or women historians, I would say don't miss this film

From Kate Clifford Larson kcl@hopper.unh.edu 15 Oct 1997

I have seen the movie version and it is of excellent quality, and I would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to augment a course with film. Because the author is an integral part of the movie it adheres very closely to the book. It is also a fascinating look at an historian practicing her craft> Ulrich's journey discovering Martha Ballard's and her world, piecing together life and community 200 years ago. The film is not only a good tool to help students visualize and understand the time period, but also demonstrates visually the process historians go through to write good history. The film is available on video through Blueberry Hill Productions in Watertown, MA. It is also my understanding that it will premier on public television in the near future.

[Ed. note...to order "A Midwife's Tale" contact: The Filmakers Collaborative/Blueberry Hill Productions, 112 Bailey Rd, Watertown, MA 02172
Telephone: 617-924-6633
Fax: 617-923-9744
E-Mail: BlueHillP@aol.com ]

From Allison Hepler ahepler@maine.maine.edu 15 Oct 1997

I haven't seen "Mary Silliman's War" or "Three Sovereigns for Sarah" but I did see "A Midwife's Tale." It is part documentary, part docudrama, the first 25 minutes or so focusing on the process of doing history, Ulrich looking up deeds, old maps, the rather tedious process of putting things together. The rest of the film uses some of her voice overs but re-creates the life of Martha Ballard with actors,etc. The scenes covered in the film roughly coincide w/the themes of the book: midwifery, healing, women's economy, family growing old, domestic violence. I thought it was well put together and will probably use the film next semester in a women's history class.

From Myra Rich mrich@carbon.cudenver.edu 15 Oct 1997

Yes, I've seen it and think it is well done. I particularly like Laurel Ulrich's commentary about the process of learning about Martha Ballard. There is no "acting" in the movie by actors speaking parts, just the words of Ballard's diary in a kind of voice-over, interspersed with Ulrich's remarks. So it seems useful to me in the ways Ulrich intended the book to be useful, both as a record of Ballard's life and a meditation on doing history.

From Joan R. Gunderson gunderj@numen.elon.edu 15 Oct 1997

Several years ago Laura Ulrich showed parts of the film at a Berks conference. The concept was not to just dramatize the story of the midwife, but to create a document that also discussed the historical issues in bringing such a diary alive. The excerpt I saw was superb and would be a beautiful companion to the book.

From Amy Couture couturea@pilot.msu 16 Oct 1997

According to the PBS Experience web page, _A Midwife's Tale_, 90 minutes long, should be airing Monday January 19, 1998.

From Sarah Buck sbuck@eden.rutgers.edu 16 Oct 1997

I have seen "A Midwife's Tale." I thought it was wonderful. It does sticjk closely to the book and having the visual interpretations helps a lot ( the historical reenactments are very well done). I would definitely rank it with "3 Sovereigns for Sarah." And like "3 Sovereigns for Sarah," the author played a major part in making the film. I haven't seen "Mary Silliman's War" so I can't say anything about how it compares to that.