We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
The movie opens in 1941, on a farm near Delafield, where a small group has gathered to watch nervously as a little red airplane prepares to take off from a flat field. "Don't worry, Mom; it's guaranteed to fly," says Dale Rounds (Brent Crawford), not very reassuringly, and his plane does fly; he circles overhead in the Red Betsy, in what will be the most glorious moment of his short life.
Dale is engaged to Winifred (Alison Elliott). They plan to go to school in Madison in the fall, but he hasn't quite gotten around to breaking the news to his parents, Emmet and Helen (Leo Burmester and Lois Smith). Emmet is crusty and old-fashioned, and expects the young couple to move into the Little House on the property and work the farm until he dies and they can move into the Big House and Dale can take over. Helen says she'll break the news to her husband. She's had a lot of practice at telling him things he doesn't want to hear. He accepts the plans -- not cheerfully, but he accepts them.
(Spoiler warning.) The happiness of the wedding day is brief. Helen dies suddenly and leaves Emmet alone and feeling abandoned. Pearl Harbor is attacked, and Dale can't wait to sign up. Winifred agrees uneasily to move into the Little House, "just for a year," look after Emmet, and wait for Dale to return. Within a few months a telegram arrives with the news that he has been killed in action in the Pacific; another piece of news is that Winifred is pregnant.
All of that is prologue to the real subject of the movie, which involves those whose lives were changed by the war, and how they coped.