As we near the end of the Season of Easter for this year, I wanted to post some movie suggestions for Lent and Easter, perhaps for next year. But they are not movies about the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Those are easy enough to find. They are movies whose themes reflect the spirit of the season, and whose messages may resonate with people who live those themes.
1. The Man Facing Southeast
A man named Rantes breaks into a mental hospital and claims to be from another planet.
Rantes to psychiatrist: "Stop persecuting the sad ones . . . the meak . . . ."
Psychiatrist: "He claimed to be a 'Cybernetic Christ.’. . but his rage made him resemble the other Christ, the old Christ. . . . Since Rantes was becoming more Christ-like, his end would be the same.”
2. Au Revoir Les Enfants
Père Jaques, a Carmelite priest who was the head of a Catholic boarding school for boys, hid Jewish children in the school during World War II and got caught.
3. Dialogues of the Carmelites
A house of French Discalced Carmelite nuns chooses to continue living in community at the price of going to the guillotine during the Reign of Terror at the end of the French Revolution. Francis Poulenc's opera is a fictionalized account of the lives and deaths of the Blessed Nuns of Compiègne. The video shown here differs from the full length opera videos available for purchase online.
4. The Way
A man's son died while walking the pilgrimage of the Way of St. James. The grieving father walked the Way in coming to terms with his son's death.
5. There Be Dragons
The lives of two childhood friends take different paths in a time of crisis. One of them, St. Josmaria Escriva, is seen through the life of a childhood friend and others who knew him, particularly at the time of the Spanish Revolution. "Now, especially now, we have to be sowers of peace."
6. War Horse
A young man enlists during World War I after his horse and other horses are forced into the role of war horses. The deep suffering of the horse in time of war paralleled the life of the young man until they are rejoined at the end of the conflict. "A miraculous kind of horse, be my guess."
7. A Man for All Seasons
St. Thomas More, a lawyer with a family serving the English crown, faces hanging for his Catholic faith during the English Reformation. "I am commanded by the King to be brief, and since I am the King's obedient subject, brief I will be. I die his Majesty's good servant but God's first."
8. Fiddler on the Roof
Traditional Jewish culture comes into its greatest impact on Christianity during the events of Holy Week as they reflect the Jewish Passover. A father who loves his daughters comes to terms with a changing world as each daughter, in turn, is further from the traditional world of Russian Judaism in which he has lived, and then the Russian Revolution forces the small Jewish community from their homes.
"Tevye: Where are you going?
"Lazar Wolf: Chicago. In America.
"Tevye: Chicago, America? We are going to New York, America. We'll be neighbors."
9. The Jewish Cardinal
Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, born to French Jewish parents and protected by a French Catholic family during the time of Hitler, comes to terms with his Jewish father and sister, and struggles with his mother's death at Auschwitz, as he becomes a Catholic priest, then bishop, then Archbishop of Paris.
Twelfth Century English King Henry II encounters conflict with his friend and confident, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Becket, who chooses to serve God in preference over the king.
"King Henry II: [plotting Becket's arrest] Oh, Thomas!
"Bishop Folliot: You love him, don't you? You still love him! That imposter - that Saxon guttersnipe, that mitred hog!
"King Henry II: Hold your tongue, priest! All I confided to you was my hate, not my love. For England's sake you'll help me get rid of him. But don't ever insult him to my face!"
1. The Edge
Three friends struggle for survival in the wilderness after their plane crashes in water. The only one who survives is billionaire Charles Morse. When the plane first crashed, Charles bravely risked his own life to cut one of his friends free and carry him to the surface, only to find that the friend's cowardice and lack of hope placed all three in jeopardy. In their struggle for survival, Charles learned that his other friend was romantically involved with his gold digger wife. In the end, confronted with reporters after his rescue, he showed grace to his friends who died:
"Reporter #1: Mr. Morse, what happened to your friends?
"Reporter #2: How did they die?
"Charles Morse: They died... saving my life."
2. Babbette's Feast
The Catholic chef at the Café Anglais flees to a remote Danish island, escaping revolutionary bloodshed in Paris. There, her life becomes entwined with the lives of a peculiar protestant sect. When she wins the lottery, the two sisters who have employed her as their servant assume she will leave. Instead, she spends the entire lottery prize to provide an elaborate 7 course dinner to her new friends in the style that she had once prepared at the Café Anglais.
3. The King's Speech
King George VI, who suffered his entire life from a speech impediment, is unexpectedly crowned king of England. With England on the brink of war, he seeks out the help of an obscure speech therapist, with whom he forms a deep bond. With the therapist's help, he is eventually able to give a radio address to unite the English people in the face of war.
4. Summer Hours
Three generations share a grandmother's home in their summer leisure hours. Only after her death do they come to know her life intimately as they go through her lifetime of possessions, keeping some, giving some to others, and preparing some things for sale. A few of her better pieces go on display in a museum to deal with taxes and the house is prepared for sale. The next generation of children who have grown up with the house look to the future.
5. A River Runs Through It
The two sons of a small town Presbyterian minister grow up together fly fishing. One of the pair, the good one, becomes a writer. The other one, the reckless one, becomes the greater fly fisher but eventually is murdered. The minister father wants to know from his responsible son what happened, but he knows he has not been told the whole story. Based on the novel by Norman Maclean.
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
6. How to Make an American Quilt
A graduate student struggles to commit to a theme for her master's thesis and to commit to a man who wants to marry her and have a family. During weeks spent with her grandmother in a Gold Country town in rural California, she learns of the past loves of her grandmother, great aunt, and their friends as their quilting bee sews pictures of their stories into her wedding quilt. Wrapping the finished quilt around herself, she finds hope in her own love drawn from the patchwork of their lives, discovering her own faith in the lifetime commitment of marriage.
Cher plays the part of a bookkeeper in Brooklyn who falls in love with the brother of the man she is supposed to marry. Watching the conflict and developing romance, her mother struggles with the infidelity in her own marriage and questions what love is.
"Rose: Why do men chase women?
"Johnny: Well, there’s a Bible story… God… God took a rib from Adam and made Eve. Now maybe men chase women to get the rib back. When God took the rib, he left a big hole there, where there used to be something. And the women have that. Now maybe, just maybe, a man isn’t complete as a man without a woman."
8. Easter Parade
Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Peter Lawford and Ann Miller star in this classic 1948 musical featuring music by Irving Berlin. When a Broadway star's dancing partner goes solo, he tries to make her jealous, claiming that he can make a dancing star out of the next dancer he sees. He falls in love with his new protogée and then realizes that he must let her become her own person to reach her potential.
9. The Sound of Music
A postulant at an Austrian monastery is uncertain whether she is called to be a nun when she takes a job as governess for a widowed navy captain, a baron with seven children. She brings music into the household and eventually finds her true calling as the baron's wife and mother to the seven children instead of as a nun. As Hitler takes control of Germany, the baron is pressured to enter the German Navy. The family escapes quietly to Switzerland.
10. Les Miserables
After years in prison, Valjean is astonished when a bishop's mercy saves him from from another arrest for stealing silver. He uses the money to build a business and eventually agrees to look after the daughter of a dying prostitute. In coming to accept responsibility for his own life and the lives of others, Valjean learns a self-sacrificial love.