“Meet the Amish” follows five Amish teenagers as they travel to England as part of “Rumspringa,” a custom of some Amish sects that allows teenagers to try living outside of the Amish way of life before deciding whether to confirm their place in the Amish community. Over the course of a month, the teens stay with four different host families around England. Leah Miller, an Amish teenager from Ohio, narrates the five teenagers’ journey and provides insight on challenges and insights they face along the way.
As the film progressed, I felt that the filmmakers did an excellent job of getting more personal shots of the teenagers. During the beginning of the film, I felt that the filmmakers did not delve deeply into the teenagers’ personal thoughts as they traveled. When the Amish teenagers encountered a single mother who was never married, the filmmakers seemed to only focus on Becky’s story for a few minutes. But as time went on and the teenagers appeared more comfortable encountering new experiences, the filmmakers expressed more intimate encounters and interviews with the Amish teenagers. Near the end of the film, the filmmakers captured a quiet conversation between Leah and her brother about turning away from pagan gods. This scene is important because it is the first time such an intimate moment between the two was captured. To build up to this moment, the filmmakers included clips of Leah and her brother mentioning their close sibling relationship. Moreover, the filmmakers interviewed members of the host families as well. Although the film is mainly about the Amish teenagers, the experiences of the host families are also important to getting a complete picture of the Amish teenagers’ experiences.
At times, I felt a little put-off with the “reality show” style of the film — that is, the film was composed of “in the field” footage supplemented with one-on-one interviews of characters talking about each other. However, while I appreciate the flow of ethnographic documentary that does not require narration, I feel that the film’s “reality show” style was appropriate. This style honestly depicted the experiences of the Amish teenagers in a way that seemed relatable to viewers. If the purpose of the film was to bridge cultural understanding between viewers and Amish teenagers, then this style of film appeared to fulfill that purpose.