The Awakening Land

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The Awakening Land
DVD cover of the movie The Awakening Land.jpg
Written byConrad Richter (Novels)
James Lee Barrett
Liam O'Brien
Directed byBoris Sagal
StarringElizabeth Montgomery
Hal Holbrook
Jane Seymour
Theme music composerFred Karlin
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes3
Executive producersHarry Bernsen
Tom Kuhn
Harry Bernstein
ProducersRobert E. Relyea
Robin S. Clark (associate producer)
Production locationsSpringfield, Illinois
New Salem, Illinois
CinematographyMichel Hugo
EditorBernard J. Small
Running time420 mins.
Production companiesBensen/Kuhn/Sagal Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Original networkNBC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseFebruary 19 (1978-02-19) –
February 21, 1978 (1978-02-21)

The Awakening Land is a 1978 television miniseries based on Conrad Richter's trilogy of novels: The Trees; The Fields; and The Town, published from 1940 to 1950. The series originally aired on NBC in three installments from February 19 to February 21, 1978; directed by Boris Sagal, it starred Elizabeth Montgomery and Hal Holbrook.


The storyline follows the struggle of Sayward Luckett (Montgomery) after she travels to the unsettled Ohio Valley frontier from post-revolutionary Pennsylvania. She and her family carve out a homestead in the forest, and a community with other settlers. The series follows Sayward from a young single woman, left with three sisters to raise after their mother dies and their father abandons the family, to a married woman who has her own family of seven. Her faithful devotion to her family is recounted against the day-to-day struggle for survival.

Main cast[edit]

Production notes[edit]


The series was shot in historic New Salem, Illinois. Interiors were filmed in a set constructed in a gymnasium in Springfield, the state capital. The gym was also used to house the prop and wardrobe departments. Filming took 2+12 months. As an incentive for the production company to choose the area, the Springfield city council agreed to fill a nearby lake to resemble the Ohio River. The city arranged for animals from the Elgin Zoo to be transported to the set.

Coaching of cast[edit]

The production was faithful to Richter's use of language characteristic of the Ohio Valley in those years. Actress/choreographer Marge Champion instructed the actors in both speech and body language of the region to add to the authenticity of the historical drama.[1]


Award nominations[edit]

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1978 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Drama Series Jeanette Nolan
For part one
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series Elizabeth Montgomery
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series Hal Holbrook
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Any Area of Creative Technical Crafts Sugar Blymyer
For part three
Outstanding Cinematography in Entertainment Programming for a Series Michel Hugo
Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore) Fred Karlin


External links[edit]