Freedom to be yourself and to be supported in your growth, especially in childhood, is one of the most crucial parts of life. And that, along with the time frame (captured in details like peasant blouses, long skirts, bell bottoms and Nixon’s resignation speech in the background of one scene) and my own dreams in the early seventies, makes the story of teenaged Lane and her family in 1974 crucial to me.
As a teenager in the seventies, I dreamed of living in the country in an intentional community with an organic garden, sunshine, wind and freedom. It is this dream that Lane’s mother, Hallelujah, has tried to live by bringing her kids to a commune in Northern California. But freedom without responsibility leads to chaos. She doesn’t have a vision for her family or their future.
Lane’s mother, Hallelujah, has chosen this life, accumulating three children along the way. This mother, who would be dysfunctional in any setting, ignores the needs of her children and alienates the folks at the commune. And so their journey begins and the disintegration of the family plays out, as Lane quietly tries to survive and protect her brother and sister.
Having set out from the commune with her friend Sky’s family, Lane enjoys friendship, a short stint at an alternative school, and glimpses of the outside world through the pages of a Sears catalog, but a near drowning during Hallelujah’s watch leaves Lane and her family on the side of the road. Sky and Lane are separated abruptly and forever.
The progression of losses is inexorable.
After a dismal visit with the maternal grandmother to ask for money, Hallelujah divests herself of her kids one by one. In a rare outburst, the usually stoic Lane runs screaming for her father to take her as he drives away with her brother.
Lane 1974 explores themes of perseverance and survival in the face of adversity. I cheered for Lane’s resourcefulness as she struck out on her own, in search of whatever support she could get. As the film ends, I hope her quiet spark will ignite and enable her to thrive and become her best self.
Lane 1974 is distributed by The Orchard and is available to stream on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Hoopla, Vudu, and YouTube. Follow Lane 1974 on Facebook, Instagram, and the film’s website, and follow SJ Chiro on her Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
As a second generation children’s librarian, Nancy O’Leary Pew has long been a Person of the Book.
In recent years, she has been encouraged by the #DirectedByWomen movement to engage more often and more deeply in the story telling nature of film and the women and men who create films.
Nancy was especially delighted to meet SJ Chiro, the director of Lane 1974, at a screening of Chiro’s short films in the Fremont area of Nancy’s hometown, Seattle.
Find out more about Nancy in her Library Magic and Beyond Facebook Group.