A Life at the Movies
I confess…the weekly blog post challenge has been just that in recent weeks…a challenge. I work 50 hours a week. My outside of work responsibilities keep me going the rest of the time leaving about 5-6 hours for sleep a night. So quite honestly finding an hour to write a blog entry and post it is at times a luxury. But since I suggested this week’s theme I kinda had to make a ‘command performance.’
I’m not into the ‘chick flick’ thing….not a romantic….not a horror flick fan. I am just a ‘plain Jane’ ‘run of the mill’ person with basic movie tastes. My favorite type of movie, quite honestly, is the drama. Even better, drama based on real life. I’ve been known to closely associate / relate to some movies. They are great catharsis when the emotions need to come out. And other times they are the whisper of God in my ear, tugging on my heart. But if I had to pick a ‘favorite’ movie of all time…that one’s easy. Dead Poets Society.
Some of my friends can’t believe I say that. Why would I pick a movie that to some has themes that encourage rebellion against parents and includes suicide? Well, all depends upon what you choose to focus your attention. Let me start by saying I’m an educator. I have a Master of Science degree in Counseling: College Student Development, so when I see movie themes that include teens and college aged students experimenting with their wings and development and expanding their horizons I’m immediately engaged. We’re not robots. We’re meant to grow and develop and learn from mistakes.
The themes of DPS resonated so strongly with me. The poetry woven in the script was wonderful and exposed the audience to stuff folks just don’t read much anymore. But what I loved most was the character of Mr. Keating played by none other than the late Robin Williams. I loved how he believed in his students and found creative means by which to challenge them and expose them to the content material. Great teachers engage their students on multiple levels looking for any and every indication of ‘connection’ and his character showed that so well. And the response from the students was evident. Neil gets bold and follows his own dreams and not the vicarious living of his parents.
The final scene in the classroom when Keating gathers his things is the climax of the movie. It’s in that one segment where it all comes together. Keating wondering what mark he has left on his students. The students wanting so desperately to SAY something but are squelched by the ‘controlling’ headmaster playing substitute. The non-verbals are strong and telling as Keating and Todd make contact. Todd was one of the students in whom he saw a breakthrough. And in the end it was Todd who stepped out – or maybe up is the better word – and sent a message loud and clear that most of the class followed. He stood on his desk and simply said ‘O Captain my Captain.’
Earlier in the movie Keating had the class stand on top of the desk and told them he had them do it to demonstrate a point: to look at life with a different perspective. It was powerful and communicated strongly so many messages. It was a prime example of art being used to touch lives.
And that’s what I love about movies….about the arts. It is an art form to CREATE a movie (I could NEVER tell a story in such a split-brain way as to develop characters, visualize the scenes and capture it on paper, make the scene come to life, and watch the picture inside my head become reality in front of me to share with the world). I’ve done acting. I love that part. It’s fun to take words on a page and make them come to life to communicate to the audience. I can visualize stuff in my head but I can’t get it to come out on paper much of the time. I can ‘SEE’ something in my mind – a picture, a scenic view, etc. – but if you asked me to draw it….well….I can’t draw a stick figure straight with a ruler! But I can set stuff to music. I can take pictures, add music, and watch it tell a story. The timing of having that PERFECT image pop on the screen at the split second the drum beats hard….or the scenery shot lines up with the song lyric like it was there when the song was written….those kinds of things I love and can make happen and LOVE to see it play out. For years I would do slide shows (yes, I’m that old) for church banquets or student group end of the year recaps. I put a LOT of time into it (think 10-12 hours or more for a 6 minute show) because it got to be fun. I’ve even had a silent drama come to my mind to the MercyMe song ‘Hurt and the Healer’ and while I’ve not yet had opportunity to produce it, I have it all written down and am waiting for the opportunity.
So what does all that have to do with anything? Art touches lives. Music, film, drama – they all speak to souls of people and lives are changed. And that’s why I am involved with Color Green Films and Ministries, creators of the movies “Ragamuffin” (based on the life of Rich Mullins) and the newly released “Brennan” based on the life of award-winning author Brennan Manning.
I am just one of many examples of God using words on paper come to life on a screen to speak to a heart. In the last 18 months I have gone from believing I was beyond grace to embracing grace to accepting grace to letting grace loose in my life. And when the river of grace flooded my life things have been indescribably exciting since. What started it? A movie 4 years in the making and God intersecting my life with it at ‘just the right time’ – which is God’s specialty. And it wasn’t the movie or the acting or even the music that started the avalanche of love. It was the message behind everything it takes to make a movie….or record a CD….or paint a picture.
And that’s why tomorrow night, April 30, I am coordinating a screening of the movie Brennan. It is at the same church that hosted a screening of Ragamuffin last year. And how did all this start? Because the same night I went to see Ragamuffin for the first time my Mom bought tickets for her pastor and a number of folks from church. And her pastor was deeply moved by the same movie – to the point he talked about it in his sermon the next day – and said he wanted to host a screening. And last year after the Ragamuffin screening we talked about Brennan being filmed over the summer and he said at that point he wanted to host a screening of Brennan.
You see how that works? Or I should say….how GOD works?! People’s lives have been touched through this church hosting screenings. Tomorrow night some special guests from Columbus area ministries will be there – ministries to those caught in the web of addictions, prostitution / sex trafficking, pregnancy decisions. And the message of grace will be spoken into lives. Others from some churches are coming to screen it themselves as they consider hosting a screening.
Do you see it? Do you get excited about it?! GOD IS WORKING! He is taking the 5 loaves and 2 fish from a small film company in CA that does crowdfunding and grass roots campaigning to get the word out about the movies – and God is feeding the multitudes. My journey started at a movie, marinated over the summer, cooked through at a Ragamuffin Retreat, and got served up even more through a second retreat in 2015. And it all started with someone putting words on a paper in dreams of making a movie, never knowing who – if anyone – would ever see it. I saw it. I wiped the tears. I watched as God massaged the message and softened my heart. I ate every morsel that fell from the table of grace. I have drunk deeply and come back wanting still more. And I can help that happen through helping others have the opportunity to see a movie and hear a message. And I trust when I get to heaven I’ll get a chance to see what God did as a result.
If you’re in the central Ohio area we’d love to have you join us. And hey – you could even meet us in person…Jennifer (http://jennfreeatlast.com) and Leisa (http://life4inga.blogspot.com), and myself. We’re all walking a journey. And it started with a movie.