Sept / Oct 2012
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That‘s the thought that went through my mind as I put together this issue, because just as I finished it word came that someone I know had died. He lived a long, full life… but not long enough for the people who loved him. The world wouldn‘t consider him all that important, either, because his life was simple and quiet. But he was a blessing to everyone who knew him, and who now must face life without him. He will not be there each Sunday morning to greet me, to hold open the door at church and say, with a twinkle, ―How‘s the Ice Cream Girl?‖ Harvey was a wonderful man. He was also a true man of God. The tears I shed are not for him, because I know he is in a much better place… but for the people left behind, for the hurt they now feel, and, selfishly, for my own sense of loss. In a way, it makes this issue even more special, because though many of the heroes and heroines referenced in these pages are long dead, some of them shared the faith that sustains us
through loss. They aren‘t dead, just gone for a time. I will see Harvey again, and I will get to meet some of the people in this issue one day for myself. And that makes me happy. A real life is far more wonderful than one made up in a book. Sure, it has its joys, sorrows, struggles, and triumphs, but no story is more profound than a real one lived by ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. This issue full of ordinary people (and a few animals) who became extraordinary through their own ability to adapt, overcome, or succeed in a world that most often thought they would be a failure or downright stood against them. Some of them relied on their faith to pull them through. Others put that faith into action rather than words. Some of them you may be surprised to discover are much different from what you saw on-screen of their life. But each of them is worth remembering. Whether or not the world saw them as ―important.‖
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God’s Beloved Amadeus
A Different Sort of Heroine Secretariat
Divided Loyalties The Greatest Game Ever Played
Till Death Do Us Part The story of The Vow
Ring of Fire Walk the Line
The Great Debate Freud’s Last Session
A Man of Integrity Amazing Grace
Lessons From Marley & Me
Don’t forget to visit our contributor blogs!
The Social Network Vs. The Accidental Billionaires
Evita’s Beginnings Vs. the ALW Musical
Her-Storical Drama Iron Jawed Angels
Taking Baby Steps The Blind Side
The Final Days Of Sophie Scholl
I Want to Live! Classic Film Column
The Little Horse That Could Seabiscuit
Surfing With Soul Bethany Hamilton
Trials & Tribulations The King’s Speech
T.E. Lawrence The Legend of Arabia
By Rachel McMillan → visit blog
rowing up, I always wanted to impress my Aunt Annette. I thought she was so cool. Her CD collection was a veritable cornucopia of the musical elite. I was 11 or 12 when she first pulled down her VHS copy of Amadeus and I was catapulted into its opulent world of jealousy, spiritual conflict, and greed. Oh, certainly, I was amused by Mozart‘s high-pitched and silly laugh, the gorgeously buckled-shoes and high powdered-wigs, the elaborate choreography of the Magic Flute restaged for the film production, the high voices, shrilling violins and ornamented music. I listened closely to the harmonies to try and emulate the appreciation I knew she must have been experiencing. I wanted to share it. Mostly, I wanted her to notice how hard I was trying to step into her world. My mind resolutely fixated on the story of two composers: one a genius, one self-proclaimed mediocrity, amidst the backdrop of Vienna in its prime, a sure-fire confectionary of sugared brilliance, the deconstruction of a timeless musical mosaic, the unraveling of a genius resulting in a crude death. It‘s an exposition of genius, a mythologized imagining of one of the greatest cultural figures of all time and, with this, it‘s an intense study in our meek human perception of the unfairness of God. As much as we hear of Mozart, few who have not seen the film recognize the name Antonio Salieri yet, during his time, he was favoured to Mozart as Court Composer to Emperor Josef and a renowned musician in his own right. Only Mozart‘s legacy has shadowed his musical contribution. The film Amadeus (based closely on the play of the same name by Peter Shaffer) imagines the jealousy Salieri feels
while staged in pale comparison to Mozart‘s prodigious genius. While the film takes great liberties on historical accuracy to paint a vivid fictional canvas, one can only assume that the emotional center may well be true to life. Salieri is intent as a young boy on impressing God. He, as a devout Catholic, recognizes the intertwining of music and worship. From a young age, he is filled with divine aspiration to use his gift and passion for music to praise God. A boyish prayer finds him pledging his industry, chastity and humility to the Lord if he will be granted the gift of great composition and notoriety. When he is a young man, he‘s appointed Court Composer and believes sincerely God is honoring his devotion and that great earthly reward awaits him. When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, genius and prodigy, arrives in Vienna, Salieri deems him a crass, uncouth, bumbling and faltering vessel who shames the righteous music he creates. Amadeus literally means ―God‘s beloved‖ and Salieri feels strongly the envy arising from the blessings bestowed on his rival. If God has chosen Mozart to be His voice and instrument for glory on earth, then the world is unbalanced and Salieri must exact revenge, not only on Mozart but also his Creator. With this thirst for vengeance, Salieri capitalizes on Mozart‘s financial troubles, disguises himself as an ally, and preys on Mozart‘s grief over his father‘s death to drive him slowly into insanity. Near the end of Mozart‘s life, as he pens a commissioned Requiem, Salieri finds a moment where he may indeed be bestowed genius by proximity. While Mozart, ill in bed, composes the first movement of the Requiem in D-, Salieri transcribes his thought process on parchment: all
antagonistic thoughts aside, they are both melded by rapturous music. Soon after, Mozart‘s wife Constanze returns to the flat and locks the rest of the mass away, unfinished. Salieri, so consumed by his belief that God has failed him, is determined to view this as yet another instance in which genius is kept from him purposely by God. Many of us love to play this spiritual game. Our conviction and assured faithfulness lead us to measure what blessings, happiness, and talent should be rightfully bestowed upon us and, likewise, what others are deserving of. We step into God‘s role for a moment, casting judgment and feeling slighted and hurt when our good works, devotion, and belief have not wrought the same gifts, talent, or happiness given another. We seem to forget that God uses broken vessels, that His ways are mysterious and His grace is limitless. While visiting the story of Amadeus I am most reminded of my own judgment and my own propensity to assume Salieri‘s disappointment at what he supposes to be a slight of God‘s hand. I can think of numerous times that I have enviously glared at another‘s success or happiness with disbelief. Shouldn‘t I, as a seeking Christian, be given the same earthly treasure? Certainly, Amadeus is a wonderful introduction into the world of one of the great composers of all time (I challenge anyone not to be moved to tears as Mozart is lowered into a pauper‘s grave, the Lachromosa movement of the fated Requiem in D- swelling in the background), but is also a telescope into the darker side of humanity. With great faith, it seems, comes great human expectation. ■
By Hannah Kingsley → visit blog
here is no such thing as a non -proselytizing, family-friendly film these days. Or perhaps it‘s possible but only at the sacrifice of meaningful storytelling, good acting and a Hollywood budget. Or so you may have speculated before seeing Secretariat. Set in the 1970‘s and based on a true story, this film succeeds where many such intended-for-inspiration studio productions fail. In the story, multitasking mother Penny Chenery must choose between letting her father‘s horse-raising legacy die with him or taking the reins of the business herself. Despite the risks, Chenery chooses the latter. She starts by making a clean sweep of the Meadow Stables, and hires new management, much to the shock of neighbors and family alike. While her brother and others groan at her determination, ultimately her faith in miracles lends her the support she needs to keep going. Most of us have seen horse-racing films before, and always the story is one of coming out against the odds. Perhaps in that sense Secretariat is no different from its predecessors. Yet what is attractive about this film is it is not just a story about a horse or about luck, or even a story about success. It is a story about people, and womanly strength. Penny Chenery is a laughingstock. Men seasoned in the horse-racing industry can‘t believe the gall she has
to first, be a woman and second, to believe she can break into a business that is more dependent on money finding itself in the right hands than about owning a horse with a good pedigree. Not only is the horse‘s training important, but Chenery must find a way to fund her racing endeavors as well. Convincing others to take a chance on her is not easy. This film is not the first of its kind in being based on a true story; films
becomes a woman worth her weight in the public sphere and at home. Like her champion horse, she reflects determination and gains approval from others without having made it her priority. Chenery realizes her reasoning will not be understood by others at every point and it‘s more important to put in hours of work to prove her decisions are the right ones than to fret over what others think. For example, when she must work to raise money to save the stables, she is not dissuaded when the going gets tough. Instead, she directs her passions properly into the hard work necessary to make her and her horse-loving friends‘ dreams successful.
Whether because of the encouraging messages or the nerve-wracking racing scenes, Secretariat is wellworth watching. It brings back the idea of ―clean‖ to The real Penny Chenery, Lucien Laurin, and Secretariat. a modern film without falling flat in plot or such as Seabiscuit have also energy, and is ultimately a story of garnered attention for this reason. womanly determination as much as But in this case it is a strong female a tale about the strength of a horse lead that makes the story especially that broke records and saved a worthwhile. Penny Chenery shows stable from bankruptcy. As Penny that one can be a mother, a role Chenery sums up the reason for her model, and a public figure— determination, ―My father‘s legacy essentially, she is in as much a is not his money. My father‘s legacy contest as the horse she races, to see is the will to win.‖ This will to win, whether it is possible to exceed and not luck, is what propels others‘ expectations. In the end, it is Chenery‘s horse into international stardom—it would come to define not only Secretariat that becomes accomplished by becoming the first the legacy of a horse, but also the Triple Crown winner in twenty-five woman who helped make him years, but Penny Chenery also famous. ■
By Charity Bishop → visit blog
olf has never been my thing, so when The Greatest Game Ever Played came out, I wasn‘t interested. Now, it‘s one of my favorites, as much for its story as its unique form of characterization. The story centers around the staging of the first 1913 U.S. Open. The hero, Francis Ouimet, works as a caddy at the local golfing club, with ambitions toward becoming a golfer. His father believes he will never be successful at it, but Francis‘ talent earns him a position in the U.S. Open. There, he goes up against champions Harry Vardon and Ted Rey, considered the world‘s best golfers, in an 18-hole playoff. Francis‘ life is no different from that of Vardon. He too lived in poverty and strove to be successful through his talent. His father was unsupportive of his dreams, forcing him to leave home to pursue his goals. This similarity makes the championship meaningful; it‘s about two people wanting the same thing for different reasons. Francis intends to prove to his father his talent is worthwhile; Vardon strives to reclaim lost dignity after a severe illness and earn respect among the upper class he so wants to be a part of. Both men are talented. Each earns a chance to win in the Championship. Neither was given life on a silver platter and both are looked up to as the finest golfers that ever lived. But what is even more remarkable is the most ―cinematic‖ moments are all true! Such scenes as President Taft‘s unexpected arrival in the audience throwing Francis off his
game, Ted Rey punching a competitor in the face, and the drama between Francis and his father, are true. Only a couple of minor alterations are made; the film introduces a love interest for Francis from the upper class and brings it all down to a final stroke. As a writer, I most appreciate talent in other writers: the ability to not only make the audience feel things but have our feelings torn between two equally strong opposing forces. To write a villain to antagonize your hero is commonplace; to write a hero to pit
on. From the calm, collected Vardon to the hot-tempered Rey (who has a golf stroke that can knock a man off his feet) to the ambitious and starstruck Francis and his short, chubby kid caddie, Eddie, to the vast array of wealthy benefactors and jerks alike that influence their lives, it is never so much about golfing as a declaration that it is possible to live out your dreams, if you‘re willing to work hard to accomplish them.
As in most films of this nature, a feelgood element is prominent in the conclusion, but this one is bittersweet. After all, only one of the two men we like so very much can actually win! Yet it‘s a game played so well, with so much heart, that even the loser can‘t help feeling proud of the winner. Not only do we experience an example of what talented writing can do, it also reminds us that there are winners and losers. Whether or not you win is unimportant; how Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, Ted Rey. you handle it is what says against another hero is more difficult, the most about you as an individual. and much more rewarding. This is There are two kinds of people in this where the film succeeds; it‘s not just world; those that appreciate another‘s an inspirational story but about two success, and those who resent it. The men who have more in common than former is the greater person, and it‘s they think; a boy pitted against his a rare delight to see it on screen. golfing idol, and a man hoping for a comeback after a bad streak of luck. Vardon had every right to feel Most movies choose to make you root threatened by and hate the teenager for the hero. They omit anything to standing between him and victory. He make his competitor remotely likable. risked his reputation, his career, and It‘s easier that way. Instead, as the his fame because an American lad story unfolds, we find ourselves torn showed an extraordinary talent. between wanting Francis to win… and Instead, he embraced the gift given to wanting Vardon to win. It‘s a great him… a real challenge, a game that choice, since it divides our loyalties tested his talent and pitted it against and engages us even more emotionally a terrific competitor, a game he would in the game. never forget… truly, the greatest game ever played. ■ Characters are what this film is built
By Ella G. → visit blog rreconcilable differences is the most common reason listed in divorce filings. People fall in and out of love faster than they fall in and out of bed… and that is pretty fast. Most believe love, romance, and marriages are like in fairytales: the Prince and Princess fall head over heels and live happily ever after with no problems. But when in real life a couple encounter difficulties, it‘s like cold water is being dumped all over them. They didn‘t think marriage was messy! It‘s easier to throw in the towel then to work through issues and conflict. But there are people who‘ve done just that. They‘ve gone through inexplicable hardships yet have endured. They understand and recognize that when they said, ―‘til death do us part,‖ those weren‘t just hollow words; they meant something of great importance. Picture this: it‘s 1993. Ten weeks earlier, you married the love of your life. It was a long haul in getting her interested but between your bond of sports and your love of the Lord, you knew you were right for each other. And then… it happens: a freak car accident. Kim has to watch as his wife, Krickett, battle for her life in a hospital bed. That alone is a lot for people to swallow. It doesn‘t stop there. When Krickett wakes up from her state of a coma, she doesn‘t recognize her husband‘s face or voice. She doesn‘t remember Kim at all! The last eighteen months of her life have disappeared; where Kim is concerned, that means the time they met, fell in love, and got married. Kim was devastated. All the memories they made together were now one-sided. His wife didn‘t recall anything. He was still a newlywed and madly in love, but to Krickett, he was a stranger. The photos of their time together, even their wedding video… none of it registered in Krickett‘s mind. At this stage of the game, a lot of people would bail. After all, who wants to keep having their efforts rejected over and
over again? Who wants to be married to someone who doesn‘t even know who they are? Kim did; his faith in God wouldn‘t let him do otherwise. He was resolved to make his wife fall in love with him all over again. It happened once before, it could happen again. He had a chance to start over with Krickett and even if she didn‘t remember their beginnings, they could have this time. This is how their story ends: Krickett never did recover her memories, but she and Kim are married to this day. They are the proud parents of two beautiful children and have a love story that takes a lot of people by surprise. It is extraordinary, after all. So much so that they wrote a book to share with
reason to make a marriage work, people don‘t really stay together when your spouse doesn‘t remember you. The Vow, despite its issues, is really quite good. The names are different (this time Leo and Paige Collins) but many of the same character traits hold true. Channing Tatum is positively fantastic as Leo, the man desperately trying to make his wife fall for him all over again. Your heart breaks for him as he goes through agony, especially when Paige remembers her old boyfriend and not Leo. He does everything he can to trigger the past and even though it doesn‘t work, Paige can‘t help but see the kind of man Leo is.
One of the subplots involves Paige‘s relationship with her parents (played superbly by Sam Neil and Jessica Lange). She was estranged from them until her accident. Once that happens, they are all she remembers, but as life goes on, Paige remembers why they went through moments of difficulty—her dad had had an affair. That‘s hard for any girl to process. In one conversation with her mom, Paige asks her mother The real Krickett and Kim Carpenter. what she said. That‘s when one of the most remembered others. Once news of a movie starring lines of the movie—for me—came. She Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdam says, ―I wasn‘t going to leave him for the one thing he did wrong; I stayed hit, it was repackaged by publishers and labeled ―The Book That Inspired because all of the things that he did The Vow.‖ right.‖ It makes sense that Hollywood would want to get its hands on the story. But changes were made, changes the Carpenter‘s wish hadn‘t been made so drastically. The entire premise of ―why‖ Kricket and Kim stayed together (their faith) isn‘t mentioned. The film has many good qualities, but sadly, the faith that makes true love possible a second time is something Hollywood didn‘t want, which means the ending is also different. Outside of a spiritual
Marriage is a dicey, messy affair. It always will be. Who knows what situations any of our marriages will encounter as the years pass by. Kim and Krickett‘s story should linger with us no matter where we go. Work for your marriage. Act in such a way that your spouse will fall in love with you all over again. It will be a story others will enjoy hearing someday. That is the happily ever after one should shoot for. ■
By Hannah C. Price
fell into a burning ring of fire; I went down, down, down and the flames went higher; And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire; The ring of fire. Addictions and adultery, anger and apprehensions; they‘re all at the forefront of Johnny Cash‘s life as portrayed in Walk the Line (2005). For most of the movie, as it was with most of Cash‘s early life, he is a lost soul drowning in the midst of a amphetamine sea. However, one of the most important things that make this movie special and uplifting is Johnny‘s slow but steady rescue. Love is the instrument of his redemption, the love of June Carter, of her parents, and of God. Jerry Lee Lewis sums up more than just music when he says ―God gave us a great big apple, see, and He said don't touch it. He didn't say touch it once in a while; He didn't say take a nibble when you're hungry; He said don't touch it! Don't think about touchin'it, don't sing about touchin' it, don't think about singin' about touchin' it!‖ I can‘t help but agree, and indeed a good deal of Walk the Line is about a figurative apple in a figurative Garden of Eden. This apple is a relationship two people desire but can‘t enter into because of prior commitments; their Garden of Eden seemingly happy home lives with spouses and children. They are both tempted away from their Eden by the roller coaster lives they live as music celebrities. In the end they lose everything they began with as a consequence of their love affair, but they are allowed a measure of happiness at the conclusion. Johnny and June‘s song ―Ring of Fire‖ factors into the movie as both song and metaphor because there are two ―rings of fire‖ that come to consume them, their relationship, their lives,
and the entire story. The first thing the ―ring of fire‖ refers to is the addictions that take over Johnny. A large portion of the film depicts his descent into drug addiction, beginning with the innocent taking of a few pills to stay awake during long drives and performances. This small act quickly spirals out of control when Johnny‘s hectic schedule leads him to continue to take the pills until he can‘t stop. His dependence on drugs leads him to follow strange and dangerous methods to obtain them, including sneaking across the border into Mexico (a failed attempt which lands Johnny in jail).
for the first time he gets tongue-tied (and her dress gets tied up in his guitar), but over time the pair falls in love. They spend a lot of time together both onstage and off, at first as compatriots, then as partners, then as a couple. The realization that their love affair is wrong (and seeing Johnny self-destruct due to his addiction) causes June to leave the tour and Johnny‘s side. However, as happy endings demand and as it happened in reality, Johnny and June eventually make it back to one another. Their love culminates in the film as an impromptu onstage proposal where Johnny finally wins the hand of the cautiously hesitant June.
These two ―rings of fire‖ propel the story towards a conclusion that would have been disastrous without the redemptive power of love. In the movie, the love that is shown to be the leading factor in Johnny‘s recovery is that of the Carter family. Hollywood leaves out the fact that Johnny and the Carters‘ Christian faith was the leading life-changing factor, but a discerning viewer can see that God‘s love shows The real Johnny and June Carter Cash. through regardless, helping Johnny through the Carters. The This dependence is a leading factor that causes Johnny to lose his small scene in which June takes marriage, his tour, his friendship with Johnny to church isn‘t enough to accurately portray the monumental June (temporarily), positive public opinion and his self-respect. The ugly affect Christianity had on Johnny‘s facts aren‘t sugarcoated in this film, restoration, but it is enough to remind the audience about its drug abuse is shown as it is: a destructor of lives. significance. Another thing the ―ring of fire‖ refers to is the passionate love that takes over Johnny and June. Their love becomes all consuming, much like the drugs Johnny takes. This love begins before the pair even meets. Johnny is shown as a small boy listening to the Carter family group singing over the radio, preferring June‘s solo performances. When he meets June
One of the most moving scenes is when the Carters come to stay with John and help him through his recovery. In a particularly humorous moment, John‘s drug dealer shows up at his house and June‘s father chases him away with a shotgun. Love and loyalty like this is reminiscent of God‘s love, always around to chase away the demons that haunt us. ■
By Gina Dalfonzo → visit blog hey were two of the greatest minds of the 20th century: the Jewish atheist psychologist from Vienna, and the Christian scholar and author from Great Britain. Their worldviews were poles apart but each influenced the world in ways still being felt today. That influence led to a perennially popular Harvard seminar taught by Dr. Armand Nicholi, Jr., that compares and contrasts Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis. Teaching that seminar eventually led Nicholi to write a book titled The Question of God: Sigmund Freud and C. S. Lewis Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life. And the book, in turn, inspired a PBS special. Then playwright Mark St. Germain went a step further and asked: What if the two men had actually met? The idea isn‘t outside the realm of possibility. Freud and his family settled in England in 1938, after escaping the Nazi invasion of Austria, and he spent the rest of his life there. There‘s no evidence he ever met Lewis, but hearing Nicholi deliver a lecture at a ―Socrates in the City‖ event in New York sparked St. Germain‘s imagination. The germ of an idea grew into a critically acclaimed and highly successful off-Broadway play called Freud’s Last Session. It ran for two years in New York City, winning an Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Play, and a new production recently opened in Chicago. Freud’s Last Session attracted the attention of VIPs from the arts, psychology, academia, the media, and more (the show‘s website lists just a few of them). What‘s the big attraction in watching these two long-dead figures come to life onstage? I had the chance to find out last year when I saw the play. As it begins, we learn that the 83-year-old Freud has invited Lewis, a 40-year-old, still-obscure professor at Oxford, to his home in Hampstead, Northwest London. The date is September 3, 1939—the day war began between Britain and Germany. That event will factor significantly into the meeting
between the two men. Lewis is initially nervous and apologetic, believing Freud wants to take him to task for satirizing Freud‘s views in his book The Pilgrim’s Regress. In fact, Freud wants much more than that. FREUD: I want to learn why a man of your intellect, one who shared my convictions, could suddenly abandon truth and embrace an insidious lie. LEWIS: What if it isn‘t a lie? Have you considered how terrifying it might be to realize that you are wrong? For an enthralling, no-holds-barred 75 minutes, the two men pummel each other on every subject from God to sex to war to how to tell a joke properly. No punches are pulled, no uncomfortable or personal topics avoided. Each man scores several direct hits—reflected by the laughter and cheers coming from different sections of the audience at different points. In fact, the play was one of the more interactive experiences I‘ve had in a theater. Though the action onstage is set in 1939, the argument feels urgent and contemporary, the stakes higher than ever. These are issues we grapple with every day, issues that were obviously deeply important to most, if not all, members of the play‘s audience. FREUD: We speak different languages. You believe in revelation. I believe in science, the dictatorship of reason. There is no common ground. LEWIS: There‘s also a dictatorship of pride. It builds walls that make common ground impossible. Why is it religion makes room for science, but science refuses to make room for religion? FREUD: How roomy was Galileo‘s cell when he told the Pope the sun did not move around the earth?
One of the great strengths of the play is its ability to appeal to many people with many widely differing beliefs. It gives a viewer, religious or not, a chance to see his or her own side both represented and challenged in a setting far enough removed from the present day to allow said viewer to be a little more objective than usual. Though a Christian himself, and therefore a man with a dog in this fight, the playwright is scrupulously fair about allowing both Freud and Lewis to have their say. It‘s safe to say the play wouldn‘t be nearly as beloved or successful if he hadn‘t been. It‘s noteworthy, however, that Lewis twice gets a chance to demonstrate faith in action. First during an air raid siren and then when Freud faces a medical emergency, Lewis overcomes his own obvious fear and acts with courage and selflessness. What inspires his behavior is never spelled out, but it‘s not hard to discern. And it adds something subtle but important to Lewis‘s characterization, and thus to his argument. The debate ends more or less in a draw, yet there are signs that each man has been given plenty to think about. As Freud’s Last Session draws to a close with King George VI delivering a famous address on the radio (giving the play an interesting connection with The King’s Speech), we see that Freud, in particular, may have been more affected by Lewis‘s words than even he realizes. The scene is all the more poignant since the date is just weeks before the real-life Freud would commit suicide. Freud’s Last Session is a powerful reminder of just how greatly art can influence, move, and even change us. Its success suggests there will be more productions and many more people will have a chance to see it. Even if you don‘t get to do that, you can buy a copy of the play to read, and I highly recommend it. ■
By Carissa Horton → visit blog n the late 1700s, a man named William Wilberforce came on the political scene of England. He would one day be almost single-handedly responsible for the abolition of the slave trade in England. Wilberforce was a devout Christian who desired desperately to bring his principles into the political field. History books skip by him. Films of the era conveniently ignore him. All except one, Amazing Grace, that tells of his life and his accomplishments for God and for his country. His is not a name most Americans are familiar with today. Out of all of the men in his time, Wilberforce accomplished the most good by serving where God placed him, in the political realm. He had his doubts, and yearnings to live a simple life out of the political limelight, but it was not meant to be. Amazing Grace shows Wilberforce‘s change of heart occurring during a dinner when one of his guests, a revolutionary by the name of Thomas Clarkson, pulls out slave chains from a carpetbag and demonstrates how they would be worn. Wilberforce always despised slavery. It was bitter gall to him or as he says in the movie, like arsenic whose effect worsens each time it is encountered. The solitary life of spiritual contemplation that he found himself leaning toward was not in his destiny. Instead, he was called to social reformation and the abolition of the slave trade. How this man fought! What fervor, what passion, what desperation to right a horrible wrong. Each year he presented a bill for abolishing the trade to the House of Lords. Each year he lost. Illness started creeping up on him. It was more a sickness of the heart than of any real malady, although the historic Wilberforce did suffer from illness and a malformed spine. With each passing year he worsened. And just when it
seemed that he stood a chance of winning in 1793, with 390,000 names on a petition and numerous supporters in the House, one man jumped ship, admitting slavery was wrong but claiming that it needed to be changed slowly, re-addressed at some future time. In translation, this meant never. What must it have been like for this man on fire for God and for justice to lose just when victory was in his grasp? Did he dream of the slaves he couldn‘t save? Did the people dying on sugar plantations, burnt by fire, visit him as he slept? Amazing Grace has Wilberforce saying how he sleeps and only sees what he cannot accomplish. The fight could have ended there with a broken William Wilberforce, viewed as a seditionist because the war with France put fear of any change into the hearts of all Englishmen, his illness worsening, no hope on the horizon. But God still had a plan for William Wilberforce. You see, God does not abandon His children. The road will not be easy, especially when it is traversed by social reformers like Wilberforce. But God promises to be with His children every step of the way. And for this man of integrity God brought an angel. Well, perhaps not really an angel, but she must have seemed one to the disheartened hero. Barbara Spooner was the love of Wilberforce‘s life. She imbued new energy into him, reinforced his beliefs, encouraged and uplifted him. She was the blessing Wilberforce needed to keep fighting. Fifteen years older and a bit worse for wear, Wilberforce determines to try again. Only this time it can‘t be in the open. Another bill to abolish slavery would only get shot down just as every other attempt had been. In 1806 the Foreign Slave Trade Bill is sneaked through. This accomplishment, the banning of all British participation in
The real William Wilberforce.
the slave trade to foreign governments such as France, was a small one but the first of its kind. This started the ball rolling in the right direction. Wilberforce realized that by making it illegal for English ships to carry slaves, it was as good as abolishing slavery itself, all without ever using the term ―abolish.‖ God was faithful to this man. Every step of Wilberforce‘s journey was guided by His will. It was no accident that William Pitt the Younger, a powerful member of the House of Lords, urged Wilberforce to put his loquacious charisma to political use. It was no accident that Barbara Spooner stumbled into his life just when he needed her. And it was no accident that Wilberforce finally thought of banning English ships from carrying slaves instead of abolishing the trade itself. He is a little-known hero who, by his efforts, reformed Great Britain, making a better world. ―If you change one thing for the better,‖ as one of his supporters said, ―then you change everything for the better.‖ ■
By Carol Starkey
e‘ve all heard or read stories of a perfect dog. Lassie, Old Dan and Little Ann (from Where the Red Fern Grows), and Benji spring to mind. But when John Grogan and his wife Jenny adopted a little ball of wiggles, Marley, they had no idea what they were in for. They‘d both grown up with that idyllic dog. Afraid to start a family, they opted to get a dog, and brought him home. Before long, though, it was apparent Marley would be no Lassie. Labs are known for their boundless energy but Marley was nearly manic. Impossible to train, John took him to obedience school where he was quickly thrown out after refusing to obey and disgracing the teacher by practically dragging her across the parking lot. As he grew older, the adorable quirks became less so, and his destruction became wilder. At this time, the Grogans lived in Florida and the almost daily thunderstorms drove Marley crazy. If not locked in the cement garage, he went into a destructive frenzy, literally trying to claw his way to freedom, bloodying his paws and muzzle in the process. Later in life, he deformed and twisted a metal crate designed to keep him safely in the house whenever thunder struck should no one be home. Pills to ward off this fear barely took off the edge. Marley didn‘t have to be alone to be destructive, though. John once used a hose to spray through Marley‘s droppings for three days just to find his wife‘s gold necklace. Marley had the habit of taking something he knew he couldn‗t have but gave the secret away by wagging his body furiously. This time, John wasn‗t quick enough. Another time, the entire Grogan family decided to eat at a fancy outdoor cafe, only to have
Marley jerk the heavy table after him as he ran after a poodle. Despite his bad manners, his panic attacks, and his affinity for eating things not meant to be eaten, he was loved. And even more, he loved in return. When the Grogans lost their first baby in a miscarriage, he changed from a frenzied dog into a quiet, sorrowful dog, burying his head in Jenny‘s lap. He stayed with
pulling his ears, he simply rolled over and let them, never growling or snapping. And whenever any member of the family came home after a long day, Marley was there, thumping his tail, wiggling with excitement, and ready to lick faces. His love never waned, never faltered, and when his final moments came, his family wasn‘t the same. Though Jenny could finally clean the house of all the dog hair and things placed on the coffee table were now safe, the house felt empty. The children moped, and John and Jenny had holes in their hearts. Though he‘d been a pain, and expensive to boot, Marley had become a part of the family. He‘d lived for over a decade and ingrained himself in all their lives. God gave us animals to take care of, to have authority over, but a dog is different. They wrap themselves around your heart and when it‘s their time to go, you really do grieve as though a member of the family has passed. And in some ways, that‘s exactly what has happened.
her for days, mourning with her and understanding her pain. Even when Jenny suffered from postpartum depression and couldn‘t take his antics anymore and beat him with her fists, he didn‘t retaliate. He just stood there taking the sorrowful blows, tail between his legs in acknowledgment of his bad dog status. When a neighbor girl was shot, it was Marley who stood protecting her and John. His fur bristled, his teeth bared, Marley was ready to do battle against those who would hurt the ones he loved. When John‘s children were babies, climbing over Marley,
I think animals give us a taste of His love for us. Here we are, weak, stubborn, not knowing what‘s best for us and wanting our own way, but He shows us over and over again His love, forgiving our mistakes, helping us to grow and mature to become more like Him. So even though the Grogans didn‘t get their ―perfect dog,‖ they got something even better. A dog that taught them so much more about life than they imagined, a dog that loved them no matter what, and a dog that showed them how to live life to the fullest. ■
By Lydia Jacobs
s I was re-watching this movie in preparation for writing this article, I noticed something I hadn‘t seen the first time I watched it. I saw in the credits that The Social Network is based on a novel called The Accidental Billionaires. At first, I was kind of disappointed. The theme of this issue of Femnista is true stories. If the Social Network is based on a novel and not completely on real life events, would it still be considered a true story? I decided I was over thinking it. I downloaded a copy of The Accidental Billionaires and decided it would be fun to compare and contrast the movie and the book. The Social Network focuses almost exclusively on Mark Zuckerberg. Thanks to Jesse Eisenberg‘s excellent performance, we get quite a bit of insight into personality and mindset of Mark even before the opening credits roll. In the very first scene (a conversation between Mark and his girlfriend Erica at a college hangout) we learn several things about Mark. He‘s a brilliant guy, having received a 1600 on his SATs. He‘s also selfabsorbed. He monopolizes the conversation and talks mostly about himself and his desire to get into one of Harvard‘s final clubs. At the same time, we can clearly see how insecure and awkward he is in social situations. It is a combination of his brilliance and social awkwardness that lead to his creation of Facebook. Unlike the movie, the novel is written from the perspective of Mark‘s business partner and best friend, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew
Garfield on screen). This seemingly insignificant difference actually is very important. Because the book doesn‘t give us much insight into Mark‘s personality, we don‘t see all of his insecurities. And since we don‘t have an understanding of those insecurities, his actions take on a much more sinister tone. Another major difference between the movie and the book is the format of each one. Obviously, because they cover the same subject matter, they include basically the same events. Both recount the night a drunk Mark creates Facematch, a website that becomes the precursor to Facebook.
(On it, the guys on campus rate college girls on who is better looking.) Both recount Mark‘s meeting with Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, identical twins who want Mark‘s help to create a social networking website exclusively for Harvard students. Both include the actual creation of Facebook. But that‘s where the similarities end. The bulk of the movie takes place in two legal cases Mark is involved in, one against Eduardo, the other against the Winklevoss twins. The rest of the film is a series of flashbacks. This format works to give us more insight into Mark‘s personality. We see how detached he is even at these two very important
deposition hearings. Even when he is being charged with some very serious accusations, he is still thinking about improvements he can make to Facebook. He doesn‘t seem to understand why he is involved in the legal proceedings at all. As far as he‘s concerned, everything he did was for the good of Facebook. The book is more chronological in format. It begins at the point where Eduardo is brought in as the financial backer/CFO of Facebook and ends when he is told his money and input is no longer necessary. Just like the movie gives us more insight into Mark‘s character, the book gives us more insight into Eduardo‘s character. When Mark first tells him about his idea to start a social networking site and asks Eduardo for $1000, Eduardo says yes without reservations. Mark is his friend and he wants to help him. Even when Mark asks him for an additional $18,000 some time later, Eduardo gives it to him. But Eduardo is not a pushover. When it becomes apparent he is being edged out of a company he is bankrolling, he freezes the account. In the movie, this action seems somewhat coldblooded, but because the book gives us more insight into his thought processes, we understand why he does what he does. Although both the movie and the book are excellently written, I have to say I preferred the book (as is most often the case). I felt it more accurately depicted the events than the movie and was therefore more of a true story than the movie was. ■
By Liz Gabriel
ver wonder what inspires fairy tales? The question is an important one. Perhaps you like fiction and nonfiction isn‘t really your thing; maybe you‘re the other way around. You can‘t have one without the other. Fiction has an origin: nonfiction! History is and always will be the best source for the best fiction. There‘s no better tale to tell than Evita‘s story. I will not tell all of it, just the years before she became famous. The beginning of Evita‘s real life was Cinderella like. She was poor and worked as a cook and servant in the homes of glamorous rich people. If that isn‘t the traditional start of a fairy tale, what is? In her autobiography, she notes the difference between the poor and the rich. The mere existence of the rich troubled her at that time in life. She fell victim to hardship, like most fairy tale heroines. But in fairy tales, traditionally life and magic give the heroine what she needs to succeed. Not so for Evita. Maybe she resented the people who had what she didn‘t, but she realized she could get these things. She decided to be an actress, to be seen and recognized. Because this passion never faded through her life it‘s evident her life ambition was not acting but recognition, attention and the spotlight. Is this wrong? Let‘s look at why she left home. She was not in an abusive situation but perhaps was lonely and unrecognized. She had older sisters. This might have been motivation enough to hitch a ride to Buenos Aires. They romanticize this in the musical, but it‘s not clear if in real life she had a relationship with the singer she went with. Our introduction to Evita in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s musical shows her use of men to get what she wants. It‘s meant to reveal Evita as stubborn, fiery, ambitious, and calculating with her sexuality. This is what the writer expects that a modern audience wants to see! But no matter what I read, there is no evidence for this taking place, at least not in the way portrayed.
Evita was in Buenos Aries six years before being recognized as a good actress. She had small parts in film but mostly did radio. This portion of the film is highlighted with songs of her ―finding herself‖ and using her fiery ambition (and men) to get what she wants. How is this truly supposed to set her apart? Every actress in that city had to do a lot of flirting. It was not Evita‘s idea. Her fire was her own but whatever she had to do on the outside was what plenty of others did. Sleeping around may or may not have been frequent for her, but there was probably more than one man who took advantage of her and many other girls like her. So she was in the same boat as the other actresses. Evita was one of a kind in her heart but there was not much of a difference between her and the rest on the outside. One thing no musical or movie can portray correctly is the transition from girlhood to womanhood. What really went on in Evita‘s heart and mind to motivate her? Culture, film producers and men‘s answers are ―her goals!‖ She wanted to be an actress so she made it happen by sleeping around! The real answer? I can‘t give you one. Over the years, did her heart tug at her to go home? Did she think about marriage and children? Were there nights she stayed up late crying because she didn‘t want to act after all? Did she try dancing, singing and things she didn‘t think she wanted to do because she was told they would benefit her? Did rebellion motivate her, knowing her older sisters had been good and gotten married and her mother would cry to see her live like this? Were there days she considered running away, only to stay and go through that internal battle again and again? These are only questions I can create from the mind of a girl who has gone from girlhood to womanhood. There is no right answer or explanation as to
what motivated her. If I‘d been in her place I might have done some of the things she did, and worse. This part of her life is so unclear, so strange to her and those who try to learn about it, that all we can know is that at some point, somehow she got motivated enough to perform to the point of stardom, and found the confidence to do it. She wasn‘t still living the same life as when she was a girl; something vital changed to make her suddenly become who she wanted to be. She is not famous for her acting and the world did not know her for it; she was an influential figure in politics. Her acting talent may not have been superb, perhaps because acting was not quite what she wanted and deep down she knew this, so that‘s why the confidence was never there to make her great. In spite of this, she became famous enough for Colonel Perón, her future husband, to know who she was. It was not instantly that she turned from radio work to politics. But later in life, she must have finally realized it was stardom and influence she wanted, and saw that politics could get her that even more than acting. Evita Perón will continue to be known (because of the musical) as a character who is not so complex as she is ambitious and fiery. The real one, though? I think there are a lot of mysteries in her origins, which were indeed humble. We will never know exactly what went on in those early years. Neither, though, did she. She might not like the portrayal on screen. If her success was not earned through using men, she wouldn‘t like us to think it so. And if it was, she most likely didn‘t like having to move from man to man in order to get work. It is distasteful, so what is Hollywood‘s answer to this? Make it look romantic! Well, at least she gains dignity later in the story—and in life. ■
By Rachel Sexton
ven though presenting the past on film has always been a part of Hollywood‘s output, in recent years, history in the movies has been jazzed up occasionally by filmmakers with various directorial choices and techniques. Every period film isn‘t made this way but some feature certain enhancements only made possible with today‘s technology. One can only assume this is done in an attempt to appeal to modern sensibilities. Ridley Scott did this for ancient Rome in Gladiator, and in 2004, director Katja von Garnier completed a film for HBO that does the same. Iron Jawed Angels is directed in such a way that history feels alive and memorable. In plot terms, this is one of the few historical dramas based on actual events that is focused on women‘s history. It dramatizes the events surrounding the passing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution allowing women to vote. In 1912, Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and Lucy Burns (Frances O‘Connor) return to the U.S. from a trip to work with the suffragists in England. They meet with the old guard leaders of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, otherwise known as NAWSA. Carrie Chapman Catt (Anjelica Huston) and Dr. Anna Howard Shaw (Lois Smith) aren‘t comfortable with the militant tactics the younger women favor, so Paul and Burns form the National Women‘s Party, or NWP. Their sole mission is a constitutional amendment assuring women the vote, and they pull out all the stops to get it. They struggle through no money, physical hardships and the indifference or outright hostility of other women to bring the amendment to Congress for a vote. When World War 1 breaks out in the midst of their efforts, they anger almost the entire nation by continuing to picket President Wilson. They are arrested, imprisoned and Paul is subjected to force feeding until their
treatment reaches public knowledge and they are released. In 1920, they succeed and the 19th Amendment is passed. Out of all the aspects of a film under a director‘s control, editing is probably one of the most interesting. There are times when filmmakers intend for it to be practically invisible (which is most of the time) while other times directors can do out of the ordinary things with it and editing becomes the most conspicuous tool at a director‘s disposal. Editing includes things like transitions between shots and whole scenes, colorings, and different film speeds. A classic example of editing technique is the montage, where brief shots are intercut to form a sequence. This has been a part of films so long that we in the audience don‘t notice it anymore, and there is more than one example of that in Iron Jawed Angels, such as when the suffragettes go door to door to drum up support. However, von Garnier establishes a flashy editing style from the very beginning of this film. The opening title sequence sets the tone with completely modern music and von Garnier cuts between shots on the beat and also uses slow motion again set to the music. That‘s another area where a sense of today is injected into this historicallybased tale—the music. The song in the opening credits is ―Everything You Want‖ by Vertical Horizon, and that is only the first example. Contemporary music runs throughout, such as soul singer Lauryn Hill‘s ―Everything is Everything‖ and the striking song that plays over the end titles, ―Beautiful (7‘ Canny Mix)‖ by Mandalay. As mentioned before, sometimes editing is done in time with these tunes in this movie. von Garnier clearly made a conscious and artistic choice to use modern music instead of just a score. These songs have an indelible beat that marks them as products of the here and now, so to hear them set against
events from almost a century ago is visceral. The content of this film is another aspect treated in such a way that feels more accessible to the viewer than a typical period drama. First, simply the fact that this is a female-focused story is not usual for film, particularly in films recounting actual historical events. Unless it‘s a biopic about a specific historically important woman, cameras are usually not troubled with female perspectives. This project not only tells about women, it is acted and directed by women. Moreover, the emotional lives of these women of the past are presented in a way that shows an attempt at authenticity and respect. For example, Alice interacts with Ben Weissman (Patrick Dempsey) and though his character is invented for the film and isn‘t allowed to overshadow the central plot, a delicate romantic entanglement develops between them, so much so that another montage sequence relates Alice‘s erotic thoughts of him while bathing. At the other end of the spectrum of human experience, the scenes of Alice‘s force-feeding while imprisoned are harrowing and graphic, something not commonly expected in historical drama. Iron Jawed Angels and the noticeable directing choices in it are memorable for the audience. Though directors can make similar choices within any genre, the historical drama seems a particular favorite for them, seemingly as a way to generate more interest for today‘s viewers than might occur for a period drama without them. Films set in the past that have yet to be released will probably follow this style at least to some extent. The trailers for the upcoming adaptations of Anna Karenina and The Great Gatsby imply that their direction will also be atypical when compared with other historical films. Let‘s hope they work as well as Iron Jawed Angels. ■
By Camille Gaffney
e‘ve all had one of those moments. You know, when you see a homeless guy walking the sidewalk with a bag of cans. He stops at the public trash bins to see if someone left something behind. His jeans are grubby and it looks like he has not shaved in a week or two.
another, and soon Leigh Ann and her family are attached to ―Big Mike,‖ who, we discover, prefers to be called Michael, and has no family to love him. He becomes a part of their family and they help him advance from a potential high school dropout to a college football scholarship recipient.
Several thoughts run through your head as you sit at the stoplight. ―I wonder what his story is.‖ Perhaps you think of passing him the change in your glove compartment. Maybe you‘re a bit more cynical, and debate why the government has not solved the problem of homelessness by now. Then the light turns green, you remember you are late to your appointment, and off you go without giving him a second thought.
What makes the film captivating is observing this newly ―blended‖ family interact and grow to love one another. Leigh Ann (Sandra Bullock) and Michael (Quinton Aaron) could not be more different in temperament.
As the film concludes with Michael leaving for college, we see the petite Leigh Ann dwarfed in a hug by Michael. And we wonder, what kind of love could make these uniquely opposite characters completely complement each other as mother and son?
Every day we‘re confronted by situations to make us uncomfortable. We either choose to do something to change them, or we walk away and forget we saw it. The Blind Side is a film about a family that decided not to sit on the sidelines, but to put their sympathy into action. One November day while driving with her husband, Leigh Anne Tuohy, a successful wife, mother, and interior designer, observes a teenage black boy get off a bus stop in Memphis, Tennessee. Her husband informs her the young man is ―Big Mike,‖ and he recently began attending their children‘s private Christian school. He‘s wearing cutoff jeans and a T-shirt in the snow, trying to make it to the high school gym to spend the evening. It is at this moment, when our pity usually trails off into forgetfulness, that she decides to do something to help him. She invites the young man to spend the evening on their couch. Many of you are familiar with how the story progresses. The evening stay turns into Thanksgiving dinner. One day follows
When he begins football practice, he is scolded for not being aggressive enough. When racial jeers at a football game inflame Leigh Ann, Michael is seemingly oblivious. We only see his ferocity when he acts to protect his family from those who threaten them. He appears to be unblemished by his previous life experiences, which include a crackaddicted mother, 13 half siblings, and never meeting his father. When asked how he survived his childhood, his simple yet incredible response is that when evil presented itself, he simply ―closed his eyes.‖
The real Leigh Ann and Michael
Leigh Ann is a no-nonsense woman, outspoken, and known for getting her way. Her first conversation with Michael includes her threatening him ―don‘t you dare lie to me‖ when she asks if he has a place to stay. However, her façade of toughness is gently removed to reveal her tenderheartedness for Michael. Bullock‘s strongest moments are those when she is alone in a car or bedroom, privately attempting to control her grief for Michael‘s previous circumstances. On the other hand, Michael is a gentle 300 pound plus giant. He speaks rarely and is not easily provoked.
The Blind Side teaches us that we do not have to change the world in giant, bounding steps. The Tuohy family did not decide to adopt Michael in one day. Sean decided to buy him a school lunch plan. Then Leigh Ann decided to buy him clothing. Next, he spent a cold evening on their living room couch. A Thanksgiving meal turned into another day‘s stay, and then one day simply followed another. Little steps are still progress forward and can take you to amazing places. Christ tells us that if we give a cup of cold water to someone, we shall not lose our reward. Do the little things for individuals, and God will help it grow into something more. One of The Blind Side‘s most moving scenes is when Leigh Ann is told, ―You are changing that boy‘s life.‖ ―No,‖ she pauses, ―he is changing mine.‖ So take that first step, however small. It might change your life. ■
By Veronica Leigh → visit blog
n 2005, a movie titled Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl: The Final Days) directed by Marc Rothemund debuted in theaters, detailing the last six days of Sophie Scholl‘s life. Starring is Julia Jentsch as Sophie, Fabian Hinrichs as Hans Scholl, and Alexander Held as Robert Mohr. For those unfamiliar with the movie, the White Rose, or Sophie, this is not the first cinematic attempt at relaying the story. In 1982 two films dealt with the subject, called Die Wiesse Rose (The White Rose) and Fuenf letzte Tage (Five Last Days), but the productions were characteristic of its time and the information of the courageous anti-Nazi group were restricted. By 2005, however, the transcripts of the interrogations had been released and light had been shed on the final days of the White Rose. The movie opens in WWII in Nazi Germany, with university student, Sophie Scholl and a friend singing along to a Billie Holiday song. Not long after, Sophie leaves the apartment. Unbeknownst to most of her friends and family, she and her older brother Hans are participating in an underground movement against the Nazis. Hans decides to distribute the leaflets they produced at the University of Munich and Sophie volunteers to assist in the endeavor. Whilst distributing the leaflets, they are arrested and taken into Gestapo custody. Initially, they deny any involvement with these illegal papers until the Gestapo produces evidence of their guilt. What follows is an intense psychological battle between Sophie and her interrogator, Robert Mohr. Despite pressure from all sides, she does not waver in political beliefs and remains steadfast to her faith in
Christ. Knowing full well that her outcome will be bleak if she doesn‘t renounce all that she stands for, Sophie chose to do what was right. The majority of the film follows her final days accurately, relying on the interrogation transcripts, witness testimonies, letters and interviews with former White Rose members and those closely connected to the group. Not only is the movie a masterpiece in capturing the spirit of the group, what I find remarkable is that the director, an atheist, does not cover up the fact that Sophie was a professing Christian and handled her faith respectfully. Sophie and her brother came from a unique family. Their mother, Magdalena, was a deaconess of the Lutheran church and a nurse during the First World War. Although ten years Robert Scholl‘s senior, Magdalena was impressed with the pacifistic idealist. The two married and had six children. Before Nazis took power in Germany, Robert was the mayor of Forchtenberg; after, he and the family relocated to Ulm and he ran his own business consulting office. Though a Christian, he taught his children to be free thinkers and never to follow anyone blindly. For a time, the Scholl children did embrace National Socialism but due to their individualistic sensibilities, they began to question everything, and that saved them.
out, the Scholl family stood in opposition of it. Eventually, Hans and the youngest brother Werner were drafted into the army. Hans opted to enter into the medical corps, which would permit him to return periodically to the University of Munich to study medicine. Sophie had dreams of gaining a higher education and despite the governments‘ postponement of that, in spring of 1942 she headed to Munich. It wasn‘t long before she discovered Hans‘ clandestine actions and writings and participated enthusiastically. After another stint on the eastern front, Hans and Sophie and their friends resumed their underground activities and on that fateful day in February of 1943, as they distributed their leaflets, they were arrested. As in the film, Sophie and Hans denied any connection to the leaflets but quickly switched their position and took complete responsibility for it. On the fifth day the trial took place and three White Rose members were condemned to death. On her way to her execution, Sophie reminded her brother and friend, ―The sun is still shining!‖ And for Sophie Scholl, it still is. ■
When the Second World War broke
By Patti Gardner → visit blog
t was March 9, 1953 that the brutal, cold-blooded killing of Mabel Monahan took place in Burbank, California. A 64-year old widow, Mrs. Monahan was bludgeoned and strangled, then left in the hallway of her house, her body to be discovered by her gardener two days later. The three people arrested and convicted of the murder were executed in California‘s gas chamber a little more than two years later (June 3, 1955), and a story based on the life of the female member of that trio was brought to life not long afterwards (1958) in the film I Want to Live. (Of course, ―Hollywood license‖ was taken, resulting in several situations being fictionalized and/or depicted in a way which was not how they actually happened.) Directed by Robert Wise and starring Susan Hayward in an Academy Award-winning performance, I Want to Live is a gritty, hard-hitting ―discussion piece‖ kind of movie. The film, which will more than likely leave you questioning Mrs. Graham‘s guilt, was based on the newspaper articles of Pulitzer Prizewinning San Francisco Examiner reporter, Edward S. Montgomery, and the letters of Barbara Graham. Good-time party girl, Barbara Ward (Susan Hayward), is living a fast and loose lifestyle when she is arrested on prostitution charges. Now with a criminal record, Barbara gets in further trouble with the law when, despite knowing perjury is a felony, she agrees to provide a phony alibi for two men who want to beat a rap. Convicted of perjury charges, Barbara serves a year‘s time and is put on probation for five years. During this period, she marries a man named Henry Graham then gives birth to a little boy. Henry is a drug addict who cannot hold a job, which results in Barbara passing bad checks and, ultimately, breaking her parole. Though married, Barbara keeps
company with two men who are suspected of the recent murder of a Burbank widow; a sting operation is put into action and the men and Barbara are arrested. Completely hostile to authorities, Barbara refuses to confess or to cooperate with prosecutors and when she is questioned by the press, her belligerent attitude begins the initial action of trying her in the court of public opinion. With the headline ―Bloody Babs, the Tiger Woman,‖ reporter Ed Montgomery writes that Barbara is ―young, attractive, belligerent, immoral, and guilty as hell.‖ As the case goes to trial, Barbara is fingered by the others as the one who did the killing. Though she claims she‘s innocent and wasn‘t anywhere near Mabel Monahan‘s home that evening, Barbara has no alibi, and in an effort to concoct one, she lies that she had been with a man at a hotel. As it turns out, though, the man who offers to be her phony alibi is an undercover police officer intent on getting a confession from her. When he threatens to walk out on her unless she admits to having been with the other men, she agrees that she was, and the confession is brought forward as evidence against her. Even though Barbara claims her ―confession‖ was a lie due to fear of her alibi falling through, having done time for perjury in the past, she is more than ever thought to be a compulsive liar and without question, guilty of the crime for which she is standing trial. All three suspects are convicted and sentenced to death in the gas chamber at San Quentin Prison. Barbara moves to Death Row and as the film plays out, Ed Montgomery begins to believe she is innocent. Feeling the press created the climate which condemned her, he seeks to change the climate. With hopes to have a lie detector test administered, a psychologist is called
in, but it is all to no avail. Barbara‘s appeal is denied… execution is inevitable… the gas chamber is prepared. In the end, the question remains… is Barbara Graham a murderer? Yes, she is hard, belligerent, immoral, and unlikeable… but is she a murderer? This film‘s view is that she is not. In all, I Want to Live received 6 Academy Award nominations, taking home the win in the Lead Actress category. Without question, Miss Hayward deserved the Oscar she won for her work in this film, for she played the hardened Mrs. Graham to absolute perfection. Truly, there are not enough adjectives to describe the performance she gave: she was brilliant… awesome… sensational… terrific… completely stellar. While I think Miss Hayward was an amazing actress who gave many superb performances, I believe I Want to Live is definitely her finest hour. Adding to the fantastic acting in this film is the incredible score. It‘s perfect and really adds to the realism. The death row and gas chamber scenes are powerful and haunting, especially as Barbara mentally prepares herself for the walk to her execution, only to receive a lastminute stay by the governor. Those torturous moments are brought vividly to life by Miss Hayward. For those who like meaty, hardhitting, gritty dramas with completely magnificent acting, this is an absolute must-see. No matter whether you are a proponent of the death penalty or an opponent, or whether you believe Barbara Graham was in fact guilty or wrongly convicted, you absolutely will not be disappointed with the caliber of this film. It is truly outstanding! And who knows, after watching it, you may (like me) be inspired to learn a bit more about the actual case upon which it is based. ■
“His name will live in English letters; it will live in the annals of war; it will live in the legends of Arabia.”—Winston Churchill ew people have been able to transcend history as a famous hero, yet in essence still remain an enigma. Even harder would be to make a film about said person and bring the true soul of their life into it. The Academy Award Winning Lawrence of Arabia somehow manages this, detailing World War I as witnessed by British Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence when he was stationed in Egypt in 1916. The real Lawrence, also known as El Aurens or Lawrence of Arabia, rose from humble beginnings to lead the socalled Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks, who were allied with Germany, with the support of Prince Emir Faisal. As with most wars, Lawrence experienced a brutal but vastly different sort of front line, fighting alongside Arabs mounted on camels, brandishing their swords as they galloped into battle. To capture this exotic version of warfare took a unique vision and fresh actors and when it came out in 1962, Lawrence of Arabia was both an award winner and smash box office success. Relative unknown Peter O‘Toole was cast to play the complex Lawrence, delivering a performance both understated and overwhelming. Omar Sharif also offers a deeply moving performance as Sherif Ali ibn el Kharish of the Harith, his first role in a Western picture and the only one where he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. The film had a glittering support cast with Alec Guiness as Prince Faisal, Anthony Quinn as Auda abu Tayi, Jack Hawkins as General Allenby, Claude Rains as Mr. Dryden, and Jose Ferrer as a Turkish Bey. It could be argued that such a cast could make any movie work, but experience proves that to be untrue. Many ―epic‖ films with stellar casts fail because the heart and soul behind the project is gone. In other words, it is hard to get into character if you‘re filming on a back-lot with a green
screen behind you, no matter how talented you are. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed on location, in the actual places the real T. E. Lawrence went; each sun burnt bit of skin and drop of sweat was genuine. Real Bedouin were cast to play the various tribes seen, people whose memories of the real Auda, Lawrence, and Faisal, and were crystal clear. To many, making this film meant that El Aurens would live on forever. World War I has recently become very popular in modern culture, with shows
“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” —T. E. Lawrence
like Downton Abbey and films like War Horse depicting the struggle of life in the trenches and coping families back home. But during the Arab Revolt, there are no trenches, no mud and bitter cold and trench foot, only blistering sand, brutal medieval warfare, and the British‘s hope to secure Damascus and end the Turkish rule over the area. It makes modern depictions of the Great War seem almost flimsy, accurate but lacking the sheer exertion and torment of face-to-
By Caitlin Horton → visit blog face battles. Lawrence of Arabia masterfully depicts these charges led by the English Lieutenant Colonel dressed as an Arab, being truthful in showing Lawrence as an uncertain, sometimes arrogant, but most often pitiable, hero. He suffers human emotions, uncertainties, and humiliations and comes across as very relatable even now. Few films that have reached theaters could be called an ―epic masterpiece.‖ Lawrence of Arabia not only fits the description, it defines it, raising the bar to such a point that few films have ever been able to touch it since. The film has aged well, still being popular with many critics, though the accuracy of the events depicted has been called into question. O‘Toole‘s Lawrence has been criticized as being too egotistical, since the real Lawrence was somewhat more humble and tried to retain normalcy in his life. But it should be remembered that this it is not a biographical documentary, nor does it claim to be. Rather, it tries to make sense of Lawrence‘s rather confused autobiography, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, combined with other accounts of the Arab Revolt, to make a concisely grand motion picture. T. E. Lawrence may have died in 1935, throwing England into a time of great mourning, but his spirit still lives on. History remembers only the few most remarkable individuals out of millions worldwide during each time period, men like Achilles, Alexander the Great, King Henry V, George Washington, Winston Churchill, and T. E. Lawrence. He was loved not only by the British, but by half the world, from America to the Middle East and beyond. His exploits of bravery and military cunning became a legend so great that only film could capture it and do it justice. And Lawrence of Arabia and Peter O‘Toole do just that, preserving this hero for the forthcoming digital age and modern viewers alike, from now, hopefully till eternity. ■
By Tryntsje Cuperus
he Great Depression was an era of great social unrest, with a large part of America‘s population experiencing poverty and an uncertain future. In this period a small racehorse, Seabiscuit, became a symbol of hope for many. Born in 1933 on the distinguished Claiborne Farm and grandson of celebrated racehorse Man o‘ War, Seabiscuit seemed to have a brilliant future laid out for him. But the foal‘s small stature and lazy nature disappointed his owners and trainers. When he failed to win even the smaller races, Seabiscuit was mostly used as a training companion, forced to lose to boost other horses‘ confidence. By the time he was four years old, he was bitter and angry and jockeys and trainers shied away from him. In the 2003 movie Seabiscuit, it is not until forty minutes in we actually meet the champion. This is for good reason, because although it bears Seabiscuit‘s name, the film is just as much about the three men who made this horse the racing hero we remember him to be: Charles Howard, Tom Smith and Red Pollard. Charles Howard was a successful automobile dealer in San Francisco. In 1926, he lost his 15-year old son Frankie in a truck accident. Grief-riddled, he withdrew. Friends took him to Mexico for a change of scene. He became interested in horse racing, mainly through the introduction by his second wife, Marcela. Howard and Marcela hired trainer Tom Smith to look out for a racehorse to buy. The unorthodox Tom Smith, often called ―Silent Tom‖ by his colleagues, saw something in Seabiscuit no one else did: a strength of character, a will to fight. ―Get me that horse, he has real stuff in him,‖ Smith is believed to have said once he met Seabiscuit. Now all they needed was a jockey, but not many were willing to ride the unruly horse. But when Johnny ―Red‖ Pollard met Seabiscuit, he offered the sweettoothed horse a sugar cube and was rewarded by a friendly nudge. Thus it was that Seabiscuit choose his own
jockey! It might have been the luckiest day in the life of Red Pollard. Twelve years of bad luck had made the otherwise talented jockey broke and homeless. His height of five foot seven was large for a jockey and didn‘t make it easier to find work. Under the gentle care of Tom Smith, Seabiscuit calmed down and showed he‘d been worth the effort by winning small races on the West Coast. He was noticed by the press after coming in second in the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap of 1937. Howard took the horse on a cross -country racing campaign where he won every race. In November 1938, Seabiscuit, now called ―the fastest horse of the West Coast‖ raced War Admiral, the other great champion of its time in a one-to-one match race. The inner court of the race track was packed with the ―small man,‖ working class fans of Seabiscuit who could only afford the cheap standing tickets. Across the country, an unprecedented 40 million people listened to the radio report of the race. Against people‘s expectations (though many hoped it) Seabiscuit won with great dominance. This was not the end of Seabiscuit‘s career, though it sure looked like it when he sustained a serious injury only six weeks later. No one expected him to race again but Howard wouldn‘t hear of retirement. At Howard‘s ranch, with his also injured jockey Red, Seabiscuit made a slow but sure recovery. ―We were a couple of old cripples together,‖ Pollard later said. ―We only had four good legs between us.‖ In 1940, it was announced that Seabiscuit would race again. At the age of seven, ancient for a racehorse, he competed in the Santa Anita Handicap for the third time in his career. And there, under the eyes of more than 75,000 of his fans, ―The Biscuit‖ as he was lovingly called, won in the second-fastest time ever run on that distance. The day afterward he
The real Red Pollard & Seabiscuit.
was described in many newspapers as ―a miracle horse‖ or ―one in a million.‖ It was his last race; he became a studhorse and over 50,000 people visited him on Howard‘s ranch. On his death in 1947 he was given a front page obituary in the New York Herald and the New York Times. What was it that made Seabiscuit so popular? In the Depression, millions of people had no jobs, were unable to provide for their families and many were homeless. They felt worthless and believed no one cared. Then came the story of a horse, out of luck and thrown off, just like them. Seabiscuit was given multiple chances to get back on his feet and triumphed. As Gene Smith, writer of the Seabiscuit movie says: ―This is a story like every happyending fairytale that Mother read to us when we were in the nursery.‖ To a nation in Depression, it was a story of hope, something uplifting in the struggle of their day-to-day life. The story of Seabiscuit and the three men surrounding him, is still an inspiration to us today. In the film, Tom Smith says: ―You don‘t throw a whole life away, just because he‘s banged up a little.‖ Seabiscuit reminds us there is potential in everyone even if at first glance you see a problem case. And this in turn reminds us of Someone who ―Won‘t break off a bent reed or put out a dying flame.‖ But that‘s a whole other True Story. ■
By Ricci C. → visit blog hough some of us were half a world away, most of us heard about the devastating accident that took away one of pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton‘s limbs. It was the national event that inspired the film Soul Surfer. Here is a story that not only affects our inner desire to conquer fear but gives us a young girl to watch achieve success despite the odds stacked against her. Thirteen years old and on the verge of being one of her sport‘s greatest athletes, the Hawaiian surfer lost her left arm during a day of surfing with her friends as a result of a shark attack. Eight years later, her story was brought to the big-screen starring AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany. The film chronicles the days prior to the attack, setting up Bethany‘s carefree, happy lifestyle of surfing, church, and friendships before showing her journey to recovery, both physically and spiritually. When news broke of this story I didn‘t care much beyond thinking about the devastating effects it meant for Bethany because I wasn‘t much older than her at the time and wasn‘t interested in world news. Until she became a household name with book sales and a return to surfing, the story wasn‘t treated with much media coverage. Now that I‘ve seen the film and learned more of her journey, my opinion has expanded beyond that limited awareness. From that, I can‘t help but wonder at how she lived her version of ―if at first you don‘t succeed, try again.‖ In life, my philosophy is that we have to live. We can‘t let fear dictate how we go about the act of living. We should use the mind God gave us to be smart and make educated choices but we shouldn‘t cower away from living a colorful life. Life is a funny business. Sometimes it surprises us in the choices it throws at us, other times it leaves us trying to hang on to the metaphorical lifeboat. This is where Bethany found herself – given a challenge by life.
For a true story that is still relatable to today‘s society (or to put it differently, this isn‘t something that happened 200 years ago) Soul Surfer makes a compelling story that also happens to be a true narration of where determination can take a person. Like the outline of the story, the world of sports (specifically women‘s) has grown in recent years. Anyone who watched the summer Olympics knows what a stir the U.S. women‘s team made in all venues they competed in. They brought home over half the U.S. medals, and are making strides in and for their sport.
mixed emotions in me. I do ―get‖ the story‘s inspiration but I do not know if had I been in Bethany‘s shoes I would have been as anxious to get back on the waves. There are unwarranted fears and then there are fears that have a reason behind them. I sympathize with her wanting to be unafraid of the water and of surfing, and not wishing to associate waves with something so life-altering, but I do believe a healthy fear (in this case, of losing her life) is a legitimate one, and we should carry certain of those with us as practice of being smart. Bethany‘s platform is not just meant to inspire young people to never give up. By her own admission, she is a Christian. Her faith was instrumental in her recovery, both mentally and physically. Watching Bethany‘s story come alive even in highly dramatized circumstances has revealed her as an admirable young woman whose faith was an enormous asset to her long and difficult path in learning to live her life and fulfill her dreams. Her initial optimism does wane once the reality of her limitability sinks in, and it takes a life-changing trip across the world to give her perspective. By her own admission, her loss is nothing compared to so many others.
Although not in an Olympic arena, Bethany was one of those women making a name for her sport when the story begins. In the end, she has forever defined what courage, heart, and faith can achieve. To bring about her dreams after the accident, she had to have more grit and determination than her competitors. She inspired little girls everywhere and received millions of fan letters for her efforts. Though her story is one of the more moving ones because it inspires us all to face challenges and fears without flinching, it is also one that evokes
A gift Bethany gives to America, for anyone who looks to her as a role model, is that though the near-fatal events that day took something from her (part of her physical mobility) nothing could take away her spirit and determination to emerge stronger than before the accident. I may not agree with her methods or some of her convictions but her journey to recovery taught her that winning isn‘t always the best road—sometimes the real victory is in conquering fear. The lessons she learned and the response she had to them is what makes her a champion. ■
By Lianne M. Bernardo → visit blog he British monarchy has its share of personalities. Some monarchs raised their throne to unprecedented power; others took it too far. A few have the misfortune of being crowned at a time of great strife. George VI became king during a precarious period in the 20 Century. History remembers him as a wartime king; he must also be known as a man of courage and fortitude. Growing up, Prince Albert (as he was known early in life) experienced a number of physical ailments: knocked knees, left-handedness and, as a result of his nanny‘s mistreatment, stomach problems. The latter kept him out of action from the Royal Navy for part of the First World War. The most debilitating ailment was a stammer that emerged when he was very young. Biographies note that his explosive temper was a result of his frustration at his inability to articulate himself to others. It was a hard condition to live with especially as he was required to attend many royal engagements. With their family becoming more visible thanks to radio broadcasting and photography, Prince Albert needed to project the complete confidence and authority his status required. The importance of this was highlighted in his speech at Wembley for the Empire Exhibitions, which was portrayed at the start of the film The King’s Speech. His wife, Elizabeth Lyon-Bowes, was ever at his side, quietly encouraging and supporting him. Though they consulted a number of physicians, each left him discouraged. Unlike the movie, Prince Albert first met with Lionel Logue in the mid1920s by suggestion of a Royal equerry. He visited Logue regularly under the same conditions seen on screen, and practiced a number of different exercises and techniques. More importantly, during these visits Logue helped the Duke of York gain confidence, assuring him that he could be cured. The duke‘s efforts paid off: he became more confident at speaking
in public and was in good spirits in his letters to his father. Logue later remarked that ―he was the pluckiest and most determined patient I ever had.‖ Their friendship and work continued even after Prince Albert was crowned king, since his duties demanded he make more public speeches; this understandably placed him under considerable stress. Prince Albert‘s sense of dedication and resolve was tested during the abdication crisis. After George V died in 1936, Prince Albert‘s older brother Edward became king. His short reign was riddled with growing public discontent toward him for his ongoing relationship with Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American he was determined to marry. When it was made clear the public and the associated governments of the empire would not support such a union, Edward chose to abdicate the throne, leaving his younger brother to succeed him. According to Edward‘s account, when he informed his younger brother about his decision, Prince Albert said, ―None of us wants that, I least of all.‖ Such a remark conveyed the prince‘s reluctance and lack of desire to become king. In one scene in the film, Prince Albert breaks down in front of his wife as he goes through state documents, telling her tearfully he doesn‘t want to be king and the only thing he has ever really known is how to be a naval officer. Although Prince Albert was always responsible in fulfilling his duties as a member of the Royal family, the fact remained that he was not first in line for the throne. Although he was wellliked, he did not share the same level of popularity his brother had. As the film shows, all his life Prince Albert operated in the shadow of his brother; the press often compared him to the ―brilliant‖ Edward, who was in a constant spotlight. Once his brother abdicated, the spotlight fell on Prince
Albert. Not only did he have to acquaint himself with the additional attention, he had to do so while controlling his stammer. The constant attention also meant that his family life, something he greatly cherished, would change considerably. Aside from whatever his private reservations were, Prince Albert was reluctant because he was fully aware that he was inheriting not only a major responsibility but also its share of consequences. As a result of the abdication crisis, the position and respectability of the monarchy was unstable at best. He was left with the task of restoring the public and the colonies‘ faith in the monarch. One of the ways he went about this was by drawing connections with his father‘s reign, which was considered a successful and popular one, by choosing George VI as his royal name. He also reaffirmed his dedication to governmental traditions and the welfare of the British Empire. He was able to draw on his time and experiences when he had worked closely with his father when he was still the Duke of York; his dedication towards restoring the monarchy‘s position would continue into the Second World War, standing with the public during the London Blitz and continuing to rally them through speeches. George VI is an inspiring figure both for what he was able to achieve for himself and for the challenges he took on when he became king. His determination especially manifested itself through his work with Lionel Logue in learning to control his stammer in order to better and more fully communicate with the public. George VI rose to his challenges— however many and daunting they were—with perseverance and, as Sir Winston Churchill acknowledged in a wreath when he died in 1952, ―for valour.‖ ■
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