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MOVIES: A common thread

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) — Potpourri: a miscellaneous anthology or collection; a combination of incongruous things.

That’s what we have here: a miscellaneous selection of films, yet there is a common thread among them: They suggest we are more than mental and physical beings.

There is a spiritual component within man that needs to be explored and nourished before we can truly find peace. These are examples of films in which that facet of humanity is evident.

‘The Lost and Found Family’ (2009)

Ester Hobbes (Ellen Bry) is suddenly widowed; with nothing left except a house in rural Georgia that’s being used as a foster home, she moves in with the intention of selling the house. However, from the unexpected kindness of the residing foster parents, she ends up helping to take care of several teens and preteens, each with issues of their own. Through her faith and prayers, she finds new meaning and a purpose for her life.

The production presents its themes with relevance and clarity: caring for others in order to help you through your own tribulations, centering prayer in the middle of an ordeal, and never counting God out.

Too often we write off those who seem unloving or self-centered. With patience and a determination to follow Christ’s command to love one another, an honest caring and forbearance can penetrate even the hardest heart. The Lost and Found Family has a message we must constantly place in the center of our daily walk. It’s a nice heart-tugger of a film, with a gentle, lovely ending. Rated PG for drug material and thematic elements, but suitable for older children on up.

‘Luther’ (2003)

Joseph Fiennes gives a compelling performance as Martin Luther, the 16th-century Christian reformer. The moviemakers have provided viewers with a fascinating, well-mounted film: beautiful to look at, with religious topics worth discussing once the film ends.

Director Eric Till (“Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace”) has interwoven a clear presentation of the Gospel in this rather sacrosanct epic. While it is a movie, and therefore subject to dramatizing and maybe even occasionally elongating the facts, Luther reminds us of the importance of the Reformation — it took sole interpretation away from one religious figurehead and put the written Word into the hands of the people.

As a young monk, Luther confronted and challenged the Vatican’s supreme authority, and because his ideas became widespread and supported by the peasants — and some royalty — he was regarded by Rome as one of the most dangerous men of his time. As a direct result of Luther’s widely published radical ideas, the Reformation changed Western Civilization.

‘War Horse’ (2011)

War Horse begins as a boy-and-his-horse story, then progresses into a WWI epic tale, revealing the animal’s effect on the lives of several people. Guileless and devoid of cynicism, this magical film from Steven Spielberg sets aside an overuse of CGI gimmickry in favor of narrative and character as the main elements.

War Horse also has an allegorical dimension, revealing the link between us all — a need for something beyond the tangible.

While the film contains no objectionable language or crudity, there are several battle scenes, (though kept within the PG-13 range), and the deaths of a couple of lead characters, which may disturb little ones. This isn’t “Misty” or “My Friend Flicka,” but rather an affecting parable for mature teens and grownups.

Mr. Spielberg’s love of movies is quite evident, with visual tributes to “How Green Was My Valley,” “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Gone with the Wind” as well as a couple of the horse movies just mentioned. Whether these recognitions came consciously or subconsciously, the images reveal the influence of countless viewings of classics during the filmmaker’s cinematic matriculation. And we’re the better for it.

Though not overtly religious, this action adventure does contain some dramatic segments that reveal a spiritual awareness. One scene in particular is downright ecclesiastical as we see German and English soldiers put down their weapons in order to achieve a higher purpose. Their remarks as they head back to their own units, having rescued the film’s namesake, is one of those screen moments you won’t easily forget. We even hear Psalm 23 quoted, along with other quotes that honor the existence of God.

The director of “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan” has given us a perfect movie. Indeed, it is a triumph, a work of art.

Bonus note: “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” the Frank Capra classic from 1939 is in limited release in theaters on Oct. 17. Jimmy Stewart stars as an idealistic young senator and reminds us what American politicians should aspire to. For details, go to Fathom Events: https://www.fathomevents.com/events/tcm2018-mr-smith-goes-to-washington?utm_source=tcm&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=mr%2Bsmith%2Bgoes%2Bto%2Bwashington&utm_term=hpt

    About the Author

  • Phil Boatwright