I took an eleven year old to see Brave. No boys were offering, so I thought why not just go myself and make a pre-teen’s day while I was at it. I have to admit the heroine’s hair was my sole reason for wanting to see the movie. Well, that and Pixar which rarely disappoints.
A couple week’s ago, while visiting my best friend in St. Louis, we broke out the first Anne of Green Gables movie. We hadn’t watched it together in years, and for that precious moment I felt like someone understood a piece of who I was. There we were, two redheads sitting on the couch eating ice cream and quoting just about every other line of the film. “You should watch this” my friend told her husband. “You’ll understand me more.” It feels good to be understood even if that understanding only touches on the culture of a hair color.
I can’t seem to read a book twice. Even a book I dearly love, but Sunday I listened to an audio version of the first four chapters of Anne of Green Gables. I couldn’t help but smile at the small town busybody, the proper yet cold Marilla, and sweet tender Matthew. Then of course there is Anne. How could anyone not be drawn to the wistful and imaginative Anne Shirley?
Having red hair equals attention sometimes good, sometimes not so good. It does end up defining you in a way, and no I’m not Irish even though everybody asks. I got my red hair from my grandpa whose parents were both Dutch.
I had long long red hair until I cut it on a whim in college. About a week after I cut it, a guy I never remember seeing before came up to me in the cafeteria and said he was sorry to see I’d cut my hair. But, I was—and still am—happy with my shorter more curly cut.
I don’t ever plan on dying my strawberry blond hair. I like my more fiery side, and I loved the fiery side of Brave’s redheaded princess. I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone, so I’ll just say it was nice to see all of that curly red hair bouncing around on the big screen although at the end of the day nothing can beat the complex character of Anne of Avonlea.
This week I watched The Pianist. It is a fascinating yet violent movie, about a heartbreaking period in history. The movie is based off the autobiography of Wladyslaw Szpilman and tells the story of an amazing Jewish-Polish pianist who lived through the Holocaust. Szpilman was the last person to play live music on the Polish radio before the Nazis invaded Poland. He survived the Warsaw Ghetto and barely escaped being sent to a concentration camp. Towards the end of the war, a German officer, amazed by Szpilman’s musical talent, helped him remain hidden in an attic. He lived through severe hunger, separation from his family and survived one of the most ugly periods of history.
The Holocaust was such a sad event, but it is good to remember the incredible stories of the people who lived through it both those who survived and those who did not. Sometimes I wonder what I would have done if I had lived during the Holocaust. Of course, it’s easy for my generation to say we would never let such a tragedy occur on our watch, but it happened just like genocides in Africa continue to happen today. People lost sight of the importance of human life. Children, the elderly, the wealthy, the poor it didn’t matter who you were if you were Jewish, your life was in danger.
Some of my Dutch ancestors lived in Holland during World War II, and thankfully they were part of the group who helped rescue Jews in their area. Pastor Gerardus Pontier and his wife Dora hid a Jewish family in their home, and Gerardus Pontier was part of an underground network which helped many Jewish children escape during the German occupation.
Gerardus Pontier was eventually arrested by the Gestapo and spent six months in a German prison camp. Thankfully, the Gestapo did not search his home when they arrested him, so the Jews hiding there were not discovered. After the war, he and his wife were recognized in Israel as “Righteous Among the Nations” for the lives they helped save.
I hope that if I am ever in a similar position, I will make the same choices. Life is too precious. History is already too full of people making awful choices. I watch movies like The Pianist because they are such a clear picture of humanity stripped to its core. In the midst of the horror, some people step out and become saviors. Some people risk everything, others take everything. Some people survive the chaos to become an even greater version of themselves, others show just how dark humanity can be. Lessons that are too crucial to be forgotten.
During the recent Hunger Games movie craze I talked my dad into going to the movies with me not to watch the Hunger Games but to see October Baby. I had planned to go with a friend but due to some bad planning on my part it didn’t work out, and at the last minute my dad graciously agreed to go with.
I’m the kind of person who believes that watching movies should be a shared experience. On occasion, I’ll watch one by myself, but generally I want to talk about what’s going on, and if you talk to yourself people tend to give you strange looks. I have a bad tendency of talking during movies usually asking questions and occasionally threatening to throw a pillow at the screen if a character becomes particularly aggravating. My older brother and one of my friends from college hate watching movies with me because of my tendency to ask questions. “I don’t know what’s going on either,” my brother will say. “I’m watching this for the first time too. Stop talking and just watch the movie.” I’ll be quite for about five minutes before blurting out “What did he do that for.”
My favorite movies tell a good story preferably one based on a true story like Miss Potter or The Pursuit of Happyness. Although with true stories, I tend to get so interested in the person’s life that I start reading up on them and often end up disappointed when I find that my favorite part from the movie never actually happened.
But back to October Baby. It was an extremely well done movie and what piqued my interest was the fact that the movie was inspired by the story of abortion survivor Gianna Jessen. What made me actually go watch the movie was seeing an interview with actress Shari Rigby who plays the role of the mother who attempted to abort her child. When the film’s producers asked Shari to play the part, they had no idea that she had had an abortion earlier in her life. She said she got the script and was just stunned at the similarities between her story and the one she had been asked to play. Shari said the movie turned out to be a healing experience for her as she journeyed with her character who ultimately receives forgiveness from her daughter and comes to forgive herself as well.
It was a beautifully painful movie to watch, but those are the kind of movies I love the best because life is often beautifully painful. Sometimes I get annoyed when people try to give simple answers to everything that happens in life. The older I get the less answers I see and the more brokenness I encounter. But there can be a beauty and growth in brokenness and a sense of maturity developed during times of pain. Of course we all wish life wasn’t so painful and that situations like abortion, genocide, break ups, and terminal illness didn’t exist, but often it is the things that we want the least that, as humans, bring us together the most and develop us into the person we seek to be.