The Real Dirt on Farmer John (2007)


Critic Consensus: Ostensibly a bio about an eccentric farmer, The Real Dirt on Farmer John also doubles as a stirring exploration of man's common struggle with loss and prejudice.


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Movie Info

The life of John Peterson, a farmer, artist and progressive thinker, as seen through family home movies, photographs, film and video. In the late 1960s, John turned his traditional family farm into an experiment of art and agriculture, making it a haven for hippies, radicals and artists. In the late 1980s, his local community ostracizes him as a devil worshipper/drug dealer, and the farm debt crisis of the time brings about the tragic collapse of his farm. Defying all odds, John eventually farms again and creates a revolutionary extended village where people and art thrive alongside agriculture.

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Critic Reviews for The Real Dirt on Farmer John

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (17)

... outstanding documentary ...

Jul 26, 2007 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

It's fascinating that this portrait of the rise, fall and rise of Midwestern organic farmer John Peterson can be read in so many different ways, only some of which appear intentionally in Taggart Siegel's sympathetic documentary.

Jul 26, 2007

Of interest even to those not particularly interested in the subject of farming.

Jul 25, 2007

A beguiling combination of agrarian ode and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, deepened by Peterson's square sincerity as he struggles to find himself in relation to his family's land.

Jul 6, 2007 | Full Review…

The Real Dirt on Farmer John turns into a portrait of how American family farming could blossom for a new century.

Jul 5, 2007 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…


Jun 23, 2007 | Rating: 3/6 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Real Dirt on Farmer John

I think it is quite telling that a progressive farmer albeit one who is a bit eccentric is targeted instead of embraced. A lesson in how society deals with new ideas in a not so positive manner.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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