McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Some movies aspire to entertain. Some movies seek to inform. Some movies aim to inspire. However, there are some movies that are designed only to seduce. Such is the case with a film that has been nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Picture for 2004.
“Million Dollar Baby” (rated PG-13 for violence and strong language) has so vamped movie critics, that while they are almost unanimous in praise for the film, they are conflicted in how to describe it.
Some film analysts have called it one of the best sports movies ever made. Many have hailed it a boxing movie that emphasizes people rather than pugilism. Other critics maintain it is a tale of heroic love.
A successful seduction has taken place when the victim does realize that he or she has been taken advantage of. “Million Dollar Baby” takes its audience on an emotional ride that will force unwary watchers to question the very nature of life and love.
“Million Dollar Baby” hides behind boxing and feigns love, but it is nothing more than a propaganda piece for euthanasia.
The movie revolves around two main characters: Frankie Dunn and Maggie Fitzgerald.
Frankie, played by actor/director Clint Eastwood, owns a gym in Los Angeles where he trains fighters. Hilary Swank, in the role of Maggie, is a 31-year-old waitress who wants to join the world of women’s boxing.
Reluctantly, Frankie agrees to train Maggie. Once under his tutelage, she is transformed into a winner. Victory follows victory until Maggie is fighting for a world title.
At this point, approximately three-quarters of the way into the story, the movie has successfully established empathy for the main characters.
The audience appreciates Frankie, a complex man who regularly attends Mass and peppers his priest with questions about life. His dedication to Maggie’s success is admirable.
Moviegoers are inspired by Maggie. She is a hard-working woman seeking to prove to herself, and her family, that she is a person of worth.
The relationship between Frankie and Maggie is platonic. The pair shares a love based upon mutual respect. What is not to like about the protagonists?
With the audience sufficiently swayed, “Million Dollar Baby” throws a sucker punch that seduces the audience into viewing euthanasia as a loving and heroic act.
Between rounds during the title bout, Maggie’s insidiously evil opponent strikes her with a savage blow from behind. She falls headfirst into her boxing stool and breaks her neck.
Maggie is hospitalized as a quadriplegic, her life sustained by a respirator. She is given no hope of recovery. Believing her life is over, she asks Frankie to help her die. He refuses.
Time passes and Maggie develops a horrendous infection that results in the amputation of a leg. Again she asks Frankie to hasten her death. He resists.
Hoping to bleed to death, Maggie attempts suicide by biting her tongue. She is unsuccessful. However, enough is enough and Frankie makes the decision to do the “right” thing.
Frankie enters his friend’s room at night. He kisses Maggie on the forehead, disconnects her breathing tube and injects a large dose of adrenaline into her I.V. He slips out of the room and Maggie dies.
Thus, the audience comes to the end of a carefully contrived emotional roller coaster ride, the final plunge designed to seduce movie goers into considering euthanasia as a loving and heroic option.
When asked about “Million Dollar Baby’s” plot twist, USA Today reported that director Eastwood said, “The picture doesn’t really sum up any policies one way or another.” He added, “It just happens to be the ultimate drama for one particular person. How people feel about that is up to them.”
Someone should inform Mr. Eastwood that there is no such thing as value free art. Whether or not he wants to accept it, the message conveyed in “Million Dollar Baby” is that some people are better off dead.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than one lay down his life for his friends.” However, according to “Million Dollar Baby,” greater love is revealed by killing your friend, if that friend is unable to experience a “quality life.”
Kelly Boggs is pastor of the Portland-area Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore. His column appears each Friday in Baptist Press.