Movie Review

Movie Review

Movie Reviews

NOV 15

JESUS

Directors: John Krish, Peter Sykes. Cast:  Brian Deacon, Rivka Neuman, Alexander Scourby, Niko Nitai Joseph Shiloach. Run Time: 117 minutes. 2007.

There have been numerous movies made on the Jesus story and the Bible over the years. Jesus stands out among these in a unique way. Compared to the mega budget Hollywood spectacles, this film is made on a comparatively small budget and is focussed on a single Gospel—The Gospel of St Luke. Luke’s narrative is chosen for its comprehensiveness and historical perspective and completeness compared to the other Gospels. The Good News Bible (Today’s English Version) was used for the film. Most of the film’s dialogue comes from Luke. In the three decades since its production, it has been translated into over 1600 world languages and stakes a claim to being the most widely watched film in history (about 5 billion viewings in many languages around the world).

The film follows Luke’s narrative closely, with imaginatively visualised scenes to contextualise Jesus’ teachings, his choice of the disciples, the journeys, the miracles, his confrontation with the Pharisees and the Jewish authorities and, finally,  the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. The movie is good for Gospel study groups and catechists. Some additions were done to the original version in 2002 in an attempt to make it more relevant and contemporary. The new complete movie begins with a prologue covering the Old Testament events from Creation to Abraham’s sacrifice and references to the prophets regarding the coming of the Messiah and his historic mission. There is also an epilogue that focuses on the faith value of the story.

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ROMERO

Director :John Duigan. Cast: Raul Julia, Richard Jordan, Ana Alicia, Eddie Velez, Alejandro Bracho, Tony Plana, Harold Gould Lucy Reina as Lucia, Al Ruscio. 1989. Run time: 105 minutes.

The Blessed Oscar Romero of El Salvador is known around the Catholic world as one of the great modern martyrs of Latin America.  As bishop of San Salvador, he was the most outspoken critic of the brutal dictatorship that held the country in its vicious grip and smothered any attempt to bring peace and freedom.The movie covers the three critical years of Romero’s life beginning with his appointment as Archbishop. Initially deemed acceptable to the establishment as a conservative, apolitical and moderate, his experience with the government and the  cruel realities of  oppression and exploitation of the poor by the military and its stooge government of the rich, turns him into an open critic of the government. He advocates free elections, freedom of organisation, land reform, and human rights. He reaches out to the poor and stands up to authorities. He notes how the elections are subverted by intimidation and terror. Peaceful citizens are abducted, tortured and shot, girls and women raped and even children are murdered in the crossfire between the left guerrillas and the military. A church is vandalised and turned into a military barrack. He fearlessly opposes this and offers mass even after the gunmen destroyed the altar and the tabernacle. One of his trusted priests is tortured and murdered. Romero writes to the American President to stop arms supplies to El Salvador because these are used against their own people. He is dubbed as a communist by his enemies. But he makes it clear that his stance is that of a man of faith and has no sympathy for Marxism. In his last pubic speech, he makes an open appeal to the military saying “Brothers, each one of you is one of us. We are the same people. The farmers and peasants that you kill are your own brothers and sisters. When you hear the words of a man telling you to kill, think instead in the words of God, ‘Thou shalt not kill!’ No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the Law of God… I implore you! I beg you! I order you, stop the repression!” The next day, while celebrating Mass, Romero was shot dead. Soon afterwards El Salvador plunged into a decade long civil war that cost the lives of over sixty thousand citizens.

 

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MOVIE REVIEWS

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THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998)

Director: Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, Simon Wells.

Prince of Egypt is brilliant animation, undoubtedly one of the finest of its genre. Its lively depiction of the events summarised in Exodus (1-14) covers the events from the birth of Moses to the Ten Commandments episode, make it entertaining as well as educative for movie lovers of all ages… Prince of Egypt begins with scenes of Israel’s sufferings under Egyptian oppression praying in song for their deliverance. When little Moses is set afloat in the river by his mother Yocheved, fearing for the life of her first born son under the pharaoh Seti’s orders, he is discovered by the pharaoh’s daughter, who adopts him. He grows up as a brother and bosom friend to Pharoah’s son Rameses. When Seti appoints his son as Regent, he immediately appoints Moses as the Royal Chief Architect. He learns of his past and realises that he is one of the Hebrews. But life changes for Moses when he meets his siblings one night. His sister Miriam even tells him of his future life mission as liberator. It sets him against Pharaoh. He tries to intervene to save an old Hebrew slave from an Egyptian slave master’s cruelty. He is forced to flee when the Egyptian dies accidentally. In the desert he meets Jethro’s daughter Tzpporah and tends his father-in-law’s sheep. He encounters his ancestral God Jehovah in the burning bush and is assigned the task of liberating his people from Egypt. He has to confront the Egyptian sorcerers and Rameses himself to rescue his people and lead them towards the promised land. His meetings with his adopted Brother and now Pharaoh Rameses fails to convince the ruler either about Jehovah or about ending the oppression. The ten plagues only make the Pharaoh more determined to oppress the Hebrews. The rest of the story accurately follows the familiar Bible story. Fictional elements are also added. Humour and good music liven up the various sequences.

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LIFE FOR LIFE: MAXIMILIAN KOLBE (1991)

Director: Krzysztof Zanussi Cast: Edward Zentara, Christoph Waltz, Artur Barcis, Gustaw Lutkiewicz, Krzysztof Zaleski…

Life for Life …presents the life and death of St Maximilian Kolbe, martyred in the notorious Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in 1941. Kolbe is known to have volunteered to die in place of a fellow prisoner named Karl Gajowniczek when the camp commandant sends ten prisoners to the death chamber following the escape of one prisoner. It unfolds through the experiences of Jan, the Polish insurrectionist escapee from Auschwitz. He comes to believe that it was his escape that prompted Kolbe’s death along with ten others. Kolbe had offered to substitute himself for Gajowniczek, while Jan has made good his escape. He seeks asylum in the Franciscan monastery at Alwernia, where he confesses to the priest. Jan’s conversations with the Friar Anselm lead him to believe that his escape had caused the death of Kolbe. In his desire to avoid the truth, he defiantly asks: “Do you want your own saint?” Brother Anselm retorts, “You think the world doesn’t need saints?” Jan believes that “there are no saints in this world, only egoists,” forgetting that he is safe precisely because of men like Kolbe and Anselm. The beauty of such utter selflessness is lost on him. A series of flashbacks recall the significant aspects of Kolbe’s life through the memories of many persons. One episode recalls his boyhood devotion to Mary. In a vision She offers him two crowns – a white one for purity and a red one for martyrdom. He takes both. Towards the end, the restless Jan watches the TV report of the beatification of Kolbe. He goes down on his knees under the weight of his emotions. The last sequence focuses on Kolbe’s death administered through carbolic acid injection inside the death chamber. Only Kolbe had survived that long after having comforted and prayed for the fellow victims till the end. The film is a deeply reflective recreation of the meaning of martyrdom, self-sacrifice and human freedom.

 

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Movie Reviews

Sep 11

The Confession

Director: John La Raw.  Actors: Jung Young Hoon, Gang Jong Sung, Park Jun Hyoung, Go Eun Gyeol, Kim do Hyoung. 2016. Running time: 19 minutes

This South Korean movie, which won the Best Short Film at the International Catholic Film Festival, focuses on what happens in a confessional. It delivers a thought-provoking and  powerful message. The scene is a confessional in a South Korean Catholic church. The young priest is hearing the confession of a sick, elderly man. The penitent begins to tell of a terrible crime he had committed twenty years before.  He feels that he would be facing death soon and wants to seek forgiveness from the victim’s family and also desires to go to the police. As the details of the story come out, the young priest realises that the penitent is the killer of his own father! He recalls the hit-and-run incident in which, as a little boy, he had witnessed his father run over by a drunken driver. It had been the most traumatic experience of his life.  Completely upset, he asks the man why he had not informed the police or taken the victim to a hospital. The man is shaken up and admits his cowardice in dodging the law and being callous.

The man faints when he realises that his victim had been the confessor’s own father. The priest gets out of the confessional to attend to the man and gets back to the chapel, where he struggles with his own agony, torn between forgiveness and anger.   Tearfully he recites “Our father” on his knees. The face of the tortured Jesus rises before his eyes. The prayer has a new meaning for him now.  He must forgive before God does. Outside the confessional, he goes to the shattered old man and assures him that he has forgiven.  The penitent must forgive himself. The young priest now feels that he must console the old man. He tells him a “white lie” to console him, namely, that his father had actually survived and died only three years back.  In the closing sequence, we see him holding his father’s youthful picture saying that he knows that a priest should not tell a lie. But he hopes that his father’s soul would forgive him since he was acting out of mercy for a guilt-ridden soul.

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Bernadette

Director: Jean Delannoy. Actors: Sydney Penny, Roland Lessafire, Michelle Simonet Bernard Dheran Dalou. 1988. 120 minutes

This award-winning film by the prominent filmmaker Delannoy traces the history of St Bernadette Soubirous who had visions of Our Lady in1858. The story begins in 1857 with the poverty-stricken but happy family of the Soubirous move to the south-western France, in the Pyrenees. Bernadette’s mother works as a washerwoman and her father is a casual labourer. The eldest of five siblings, Bernadette was sick, illiterate and deeply devout. In February 1858, when she was fourteen, while collecting firewood near a grotto called Massabielle in the company of her sisters, Bernadette sees a light inside the cave and the figure of a beautiful young woman. This is the beginning of a series of apparitions and messages.  Bernadette’s mother is alarmed. The church authorities are initially sceptical and think Bernadette is hallucinating. The civil authorities turn their wrath on her. As the news spreads, the government tries to prevent the gathering of the devout. The crowd around Bernadette during the apparitions sees her wonderfully transformed. But only she sees the figure of the lady.  She receives several messages, the chief of which is ‘penance.’ Doctors examine her for normalcy. The police prefect interrogates her and forbids her to visit the grotto. Bernadette never says it is Our Lady,  since the apparition did not reveal her name. Only the poor people in the town believe it to be the Virgin. The local physician comes to her defence clearing her of allegations of insanity. Guards prevent people from collecting the water of the miraculous spring. But when Emperor Luis Napoleon’s infant son is cured of a mortal illness, the ban is lifted. Bernadette, tired of all the public attention, seeks refuge in a convent and later becomes a nun. Ecclesiastical authorities ratify the veracity of her visions and a chapel is built in Lourdes.  The film closes with a report of Bernadette’s death on 16th April 1879 and her canonisation in 1933. Her exhumed body was found uncorrupted and is preserved in Nevers, France.

 

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Video Reviews

AUGUST 14

This month, instead of our usual movie reviews, we present three short YouTube videos on Organ Donation. They are very well made and touch the heart. You are sure to find other videos too on this topic.—Editor

Live to Give

Ranjith is the only son of Leela and Alok Sharma. They are a loving and happy family. Ranjith rides his bike to the college as usual, after he and his mother wave at each other with evident affection. On the way, Ranjith is badly injured in an accident. His heart-broken parents beg the doctors to save the life of their son. The doctor explains to them that he is brain dead, and that nothing more can be done for him. He shows them some young people and a middle-aged man who got a lease of life through organ donation. Though suffering intensely from their personal tragedy, Ranjith’s parents agree to this.

The video touches the heart and appeals to our generous side. It makes us realize how each of us can be a real life-giver, even after our death, if we agree to be organ donors.

(Hindi video. Because of the good acting, the story is clear even to those who do not follow Hindi. Duration: 12 minutes.)

Ek Nayi Shuruvat

This award-winning video starts with a doctor visiting…

 

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MOVIE REVIEWS

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The Day After

Director: Nicholas Meyer. Cast: Jason Robards, JoBeth Williams, Georgan Johnson, Steve Guttenberg John Lithgow, Amy Madigan. Runtime:126 minutes. 1983.

First presented as a television movie, by ABC in November 1983, The Day After generated an intense national debate in the US about the dangers posed by nuclear build up during the 1980s. It imagines the break out of a full-scale war between the US led NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. It focuses our attention on the life of ordinary citizens living in the town of Lawrence, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, as well as several family farms situated near the American nuclear missile silos. The characters include: a dedicated doctor, Dr Russell Oakes, who is completely tied up with his tight hospital schedule; Denise Dahlberg eagerly preparing for her wedding to take place soon; Stephen Klein who is looking forward to his college graduation. Their peaceful daily lives are destroyed by the missile attack, the reasons for which are irrelevant to the story. The series of attacks vaporise whole towns, destroy almost all life around and leaves a few survivors to witness the utter waste and horror of the aftermath—the nuclear winter…

 

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Reviews by Dr Gigy Joseph

 

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MOVIE REVIEWS

JUNE 15

Taare Zameen Par

Director/producer: Aamir Khan; Writer: Amole Gupte; Cast:  Aamir Khan, Darsheel Safary, Sachet Engineer, Tisca Chopra, Vipin Sharma; Run time:165 minutes. 2007.

The film addresses a usually ignored problem in schools. It tells the story of a dyslexic child who faces misunderstanding and ill treatment from parents and teachers on account of his reading disability. His redemption starts when an understanding teacher steps into his life.

The dyslexic Ishaan Awasthi is an otherwise normal schoolboy of eight. His elder brother excels in studies. Ishaan’s teachers and parents fail to identify his problem and treat him as lazy and truant. In school he is the butt of laughter and ill-treatment. His parents shift him to a boarding school in hope of ‘disciplining’ him. But it only makes matters worse. Lonely and homesick in the new school, Ishaan becomes introverted and withdrawn.

Into his troubled world comes the new arts teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh. Nikumbh identifies the little boy’s problem and helps him out of his shell. Ishaan is talented in painting. He has a great feel for nature and animals and is highly imaginative. This becomes his winning point and the arts teacher is able to convince his parents about this. The climax of the movie is when Ishaan comes out winner in a school painting competition. His parents are relieved and overjoyed to see their son in a new light. The movie is a heart-warming experience, enhanced by Shankar Mahadevan’s musical score and some fine graphic animation that evokes the fantasy world of a child.  It is a lesson in empathy for marginalised children, an inspiration for teachers and parents everywhere. As its subtitle says: “Every child is special.”

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Salaam Bombay

Director: Mira Nair. Cast: Shafiq Syed, Hansa Vithal, Chanda Sharma, Raghuvir Yadav, Anita Kanwar, Nana Patekar, Irrfan Khan.  113 minutes, 1983.

The film’s narrative centres on Krishna, a little boy who is sent out of his house by his mother for setting fire to his elder brother’s motorbike. He has to earn Rs 500 to repay his brother for the damages. He works in a circus. One day, when he is on errands, the circus leaves. The little destitute arrives in Mumbai, where street boys rob everything he has. But he soon makes friends with them, especially with Chillum, who finds work for him as a tea-carrier in a red-light district. Chillum is a drug-addict enslaved by Baba, the drug-dealer whose wife is a prostitute.  Baba’s wife is frustrated by the thought of bringing up their only daughter in such situation. But Baba is unwilling to take them elsewhere. Krishna develops a crush on a new girl named Sola Saal at the brothel. He supports her in resisting her initiation into prostitution, and tries to rescue her by setting fire to the house. They are caught.  He is beaten up and fired from his job.  The madam of the house asks Baba to ‘break’ Sola Saal into her ‘work.’ Krishna does all kinds of menial jobs to earn money to support himself and the hopelessly addicted Chillum, including a burglary. Chillum steals Krishna’s money and overdoses himself to death. One night Krishna and Baba’s daughter are taken by the police and put in a juvenile home. The boy escapes to return to the street. Krishna’s hope of eloping with Sola Saal are dashed when she tells him that she is charmed by Baba and does not care about Krishna and moves off to meet her first “client.” The enraged boy kills Baba and tries to run away with Baba’s wife. They get separated in a procession. The movie was developed from the actual experiences of Mumbai street children.  The filming was done entirely on location. It throws light on the conditions of life lived literally in the streets of Indian cities, and the inadequacy and casual cruelty of social institutions meant to help the people living on the edge. We also see the dignity and resilience of people who are treated as “non-persons.”


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MOVIE REVIEWS

MAY 13

Thérèse: The Story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Director: Leonardo De Filippis. Cast: Lindsay Younce, Leonardo Defilippis, Maggie Rose Fleck, Linda Hayden. 96 minutes. 2004.

Unknown during her short life—she died at 24—and at her death, St Therese, also known as the Little Flower, became revered and loved all over the world after her death, especially through the favours people attributed to her prayers. In fact, she had said that she would spend her heaven doing good on the earth. Her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, which became world-famous, is the basis for this movie. She was canonized in 1925, and her parents have been canonized recently. The film begins with her childhood as the youngest in a middle class French family, the traumatic experience of her mother’s death when she was just four years old, and her desire to become a saint. She dedicated her life to God at fourteen. When she was denied entry into convent because she was under age, she went to the Vatican to appeal to the Pope. Life in the convent was no bed of roses for her. But her attachment to Jesus and her persistence saw her through.  The film presents her family, her struggles as a person and as a nun and her writing that finally revealed to the world the spiritual giant she was. There are moments of humour and pathos and deep inner conflict as she struggles with her faith. The movie is a deeply emotional and spiritual experience distilled out of a seemingly undramatic biography.

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Of Gods and Men

Director: Xavier Beauvois. Cast: Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Olivier Rabourdin, Philippe Laudenbach, and Sabrina Quazani. 120 minutes. 2010.

Closely based on a true story, this movie presents the last days of a community of seven French Trappist monks caught in the crossfire of Algerian civil war who were abducted and murdered in northern Algeria by an Islamic rebel outfit in 1996. The film opens with a quotation from Psalm 82:6-7: “I have said, you are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” The psalm echoes throughout the film, highlighting its central theme of the Living God against false gods of our time.

The civil war in Algeria arrives at the doorstep of the Trappist monks living in the poor village. They live a frugal life, devotedly serving the Muslim community around them, especially providing free medical service through the old asthmatic Brother Luc, who attends to hundreds of patients every day.  In the wake of a massacre of foreign labourers nearby, the government offers to protect them. But the abbot, Father Christian de Chergé, will not have weapons or violence in his monastery.  The soldiers leave, but the brothers are now to decide whether they should leave the place for safety’s sake or stay on, to be  true to their Christian commitment.  Fr Christian is determined to stay, because that is what God has chosen them for. One of the Brothers asks him whether they are to turn themselves into heroes by choosing death and martyrdom. The Abbot tells him that it is not about heroism; instead they are to be “martyrs of love,” “to be brothers to all.”

Before they can finalize their decision, the fundamentalist Islamic group under the leadership of Ali Fayattia breaks into the premises demanding medical service for wounded terrorists. Bro Christian is able to impress the terrorist by quoting the Quran about the love of Christians. Ali leaves them unharmed and offers to protect them too. But he is captured soon and tortured and killed by the government forces. The monks stay on, remaining faithful to their vocation in the face of violence. They are captured in a nighttime raid and led away to their deaths. We recall the abbot’s words “love is eternal hope.”

The film does not comment on the  politics of the time, but focusses on the idea of love, freedom and the failure of modern “gods,” such as political ideologies and violence. There is a memorable sequence in which a villager asks a monk “Have you ever been in love? He answers: “Yes, several times, and then another Greater Love came along and I responded.” It is this love that leads them to martyrdom. In a highly secular country like France, people who went to see this movie came out of the theatres with tears in their eyes.


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MOVIE REVIEWS

April 13

This month, in the place of our usual movie reviews, we present two videos available on YouTube. Each presents the story of a well-educated atheist who is a convinced believer today. You can watch both videos on YouTube.

John Bartunek: From Atheist to Priest

Raised in an atheistic household, John Bartunek had little reason to think about religion in youth.  His father was anti-religious. John’s interest in music led him into a church choir. Once, while singing the song ‘Let there be Light,’ he had his ‘moment of grace,’ when he decided to be a Christian.

At Stanford University (rated second or third in the World Universities Ranking), he had a Jewish professor who had studied all religions of the world and chose not to follow any. He claimed to be a ‘post-atheist’ (“religion was no longer a relevant subject”).  One day, the professor told John, “If you want to follow any religion—which you should not—there are only two real religions—Judaism and Catholic Christianity.” Wishing to learn about Catholicism, he went to Italy, where he saw the achievements of Christian civilization in the Renaissance art and architecture of Florence, which moved him deeply. He was deeply moved by the experience of attending Mass in a church put up during the Communist regime in Poland.

Deeply attracted to the Catholic faith, he joined the church. His father disapproved of his becoming a Catholic; his two sisters were evangelicals. He became a professional actor, but was more and more drawn to the priesthood. As a priest, he became associated with movie director Mel Gibson in the production of The Passion of The Christ.  This resulted in his bestselling book, Inside the Passion: An Insider’s Look at The Passion of the Christ. Bartunek tells us of some miracles that happened on the sets during the filming and also how the actors and the crew, coming from different backgrounds and ideologies, were profoundly affected by the movie.

Fr Bartunek administers a website called vocation.com, which reaches out to youth interested in religious life or priesthood.

Jennifer Fulwiler:

An Atheist Intellectual’s Surprising Discoveries

In the YouTube video, Jennifer Fulwiler, mother of six, gives a frank and fascinating account of her life. Born into a family of technocrats, she grew up among militant atheists who believed that religion was all fairy tales and a pernicious influence.  In her youth she dressed and behaved like the usual teenage rebels, wearing outrageous dresses and make-up. She took one advice from her father seriously: ‘not to trust any idea until she had worked through it.’

Jennifer went to a Christian university, but always thought of Christians as stupid.  She was even embarrassed to take a religious book from the library.  Her journey to faith began when she met her husband Joe, who came from a Baptist background, but was not an active Christian. Joe was indulgent of her atheism but told her that he would never deny Jesus because he had encountered Him.

Everything changed dramatically on the day Jennifer held her first child in her arms. She realized instantly, with a shock, that life cannot be an accidental happening resulting from a strange mixture of chemicals. Love would endure even if the earth would cease to exist.

This became a turning point. Interacting on a blog with those who could answer her questions, Jennifer found that the most convincing answers were all from Catholics! She decided to become a Catholic. Joe too joined her. She also realised that the moral code of the Church, however hard it sounded, was still the most reasonable and had remained unchanged.

During her third pregnancy, Jennifer found that she had a dangerous congenital disease. She saw then that it was not enough to acknowledge God intellectually. One had to accept Jesus the person and hand herself over to Him. Jennifer and Joe came to experience a series of miraculous happenings. She notes that intellectual pride and materialism block grace from working on us. We seek ‘autonomy’ as our goal, when, in fact, it does not make us happy or fulfilled. The Catholic faith brought her the answers, as well as the peace and joy she had always wanted.


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SPOTLIGHT

MARCH 17

Spotlight won the Oscar for the best movie in 2016.

What is it about?

It presents the true story of a team of journalists (code-named “Spotlight”) of the newspaper, The Boston Globe, who investigated the abuse of minors by Catholic priests. The team faced huge hurdles, since Boston is a very Catholic city, 53% of the paper’s readers were Catholics, as were most of the Spotlight team members. All this happened in 2002. These journalists were shocked to find that the abuse had been going for decades, and that the church (in this case, the Boston Archdiocese) had used its influence to cover it up.

Spotlight is not a typical movie. It will not appeal to the usual movie audiences. All the usual ingredients that make movies popular are missing: romance, violence, scenic shots, handsome men meeting beautiful women, etc. No, it is the story of a patient and systematic investigation by this team of journalists, who do their work quietly in libraries to dig out information about priests, and who interview priests who had abused children, as well as some of their victims. An intelligent movie about the dogged persistence of the journalists—not a glamorous film centred around stars, nor a thriller in the usual sense of the term.

Under a new and non-Catholic editor, the paper decides to investigate the alleged abuse. Several persons within the church try to dissuade them from doing so. But the team goes ahead. The story is well-known; so there are hardly any surprises. The team faces many brickwalls—influential persons who do not want the story to be told; good people who know that the Church is an institution doing lots of good; and the fact that the vast majority of priests are innocent. Should they pursue the story? Should they make it known to the world? That is the dilemma.

Soon after Spotlight won the Oscar, L’Osservatore Romano (the Vatican Newspaper) published an article stating that it is not an anti-Catholic movie. The church is willing to admit its failures in this area, and to do what it can for the victims, as well as to prevent future abuse.

So much has changed in the church since 2002. Today, the church has strict rules on protection of minors, which include also the duty incumbent on bishops and superiors to deal with abuse cases speedily and efficiently, and to collaborate with the police in the investigation.

We, in India, have much to learn from what happened in the US, and how the American Church has dealt with the sexual abuse of minors by church personnel. Although the percentage of priests guilty of the sexual abuse of minors is small—the final reports prepared by the John Jay College of Criminology for the US bishops state that, checking the records of priests for fifty years, they found accusations against 4 percent of the diocesan clergy and 1.5 percent of the religious clergy—the crime is serious, and the victims need to be listened to and helped with healing. The Indian church needs to be serious and systematic in tackling abuse at three levels: (1) Having clear and effective policies to prevent abuse; (2) steps for dealing with abuse if it occurs in any church institution; (3) training church personnel as well as employees about the seriousness of the matter and their responsibility in this area.


JTM

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TWO MOVIE CLASSICS

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Lilies of the Field

Director: Ralph Nelson. Written by: James Poe. Cast: Sydney Poitier, Lilia Skala, Lisa Mann, Isa Crino. 94 minutes. 1963.

This is one of the last glorious classics of the black and white era in movie-making and also one in which Hollywood paid tributes to Christian faith. Based on a true story, it centres around five Catholic refugee nuns from Eastern Europe living a hard life in a desolate part of the US, attempting to build a chapel, a school and a hospital for the local people. An Afro-American war veteran named Homer Smith enters their world when his car breaks down. He is an itinerant  construction worker looking for work. Maria, the East German Mother Superior, believes that ‘Mr Schimidt’ is the answer to their prayers for help. She persuades the selfless Homer into working for them. In the beginning he finds it difficult to adjust with the strict, demanding nun. But he makes up his mind to build the chapel anyway.  Homer is a Baptist. The diversity of their races, languages, nationalities and cultures create conflicts between these powerful personalities, often creating comic situations. Homer stays on to finish the chapel by himself. He proves to be a perfect match for  the headstrong Mother Maria. Half way through, in a fit of frustration, Homer leaves. The local settlers, mostly Hispanics, step in to help. But they make a mess of things. Homer turns up again, this time to continue the work all by himself. Now Mother Maria is ready to assign the task of building a school to him. But having finished the chapel, Homer takes off, singing his Baptist hymn.

A sparse, straightforward story without any ‘preachy’ tone, Liles of the Field is a warm-hearted comedy that speaks of selfless devotion, human togetherness and the power of faith that unites all.

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Sound of Music

Director: Robert Wise;  Cast: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Charmian Carr, Eleanor Parker & others. Music and songs:  by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. 174 minutes. 1965.

This is one movie that has remained an all-time favourite with moviegoers around the world and also one that set a record in the box office and won great critical acclaim. Even after half a century, it continues to be a favourite musical. The story is based on the autobiography of Baroness Maria Von Trapp, entitled  The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, which presents the   life experience of the Austrian Captain Von Trapp, his second wife Maria and their children just before World War II. Maria is an irrepressible orphan who is a postulant in an Austrian convent. She is sent as a governess to the widowed Captain Von Trapp, who has seven children whom he brings up in a rigid, almost military, discipline. The children are naturally mischievous and unruly when they get a chance. Maria’s love of outdoors and of music strikes a chord with the children and she brings laughter, music and joy to the house. She trains the children to sing and organises them as a choir.  Against the Captain’s disapproval she presents them for a contest in Salzburg .The Captain too is charmed by the young Maria and they fall in love. The children are happy to have Maria as their new mother. Soon Austria is annexed by Nazi Germany. The Captain is called to join the German navy, which means being a traitor to his beloved Austria. Taking great risks, the family escapes over the mountains into Switzerland. Shot against the beautiful Alpine background of Salzburg, Austria, the film attracts us with its warm human story, much-loved songs, besides being a celebration of freedom and family values. It won six Oscar awards.


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