Movies that deal with the sanctity of life are suddenly in the news. One of these, the long anticipated independent film Doonby, is scheduled to open in theaters later this year. And another one, October Baby, opens in theaters today, Friday, March 23.
Both of these films delve deeply and fearlessly into an issue that the entertainment industry has rarely been brave enough to tackle.
But of course, the biggest question is, how do they handle that issue? As I’ve said more than once, Christian filmmakers must always remember that a movie needs to be a movie, not a sermon. Movies reach people not by preaching at them, but by telling stories — stories that resonate with us and move us.
And that’s what these filmmakers are doing. They tell stories about people whose lives have been deeply, permanently affected by abortion. And in doing so, they remind us of the human dimension of an issue that’s too often treated as nothing more than a political football.
In October Baby, we have the story of Hannah, a college student suddenly hit with earth-shattering news. Not only is she adopted, but her biological mother had tried to abort her. Her overprotective adoptive parents had tried to shield her from the truth, but the lingering health problems caused by the procedure finally force them to tell her what happened.
The devastating news propels Hannah on a journey to learn more about her origins, but she finds out even more than she bargained for.
Hannah’s cinematic story was inspired by the real-life story of Gianna Jessen. Gianna was born with cerebral palsy after a botched abortion and has become a celebrated pro-life speaker. After watching October Baby, Gianna said that watching the film was a healing experience for her.
For those of us who haven’t been through anything like what Gianna has, the film is a valuable glimpse at experiences that we can hardly begin to imagine. It raises awareness of the unseen person who is always involved in an abortion, and asks us to identify with that person in a way that we never have before.
But another one of October Baby’s strengths is that it doesn’t present only a single perspective. Hannah talks with a nurse involved with her abortion. She learns about a clinic bombing that affected that nurse’s life.
The film, you see, doesn’t do any demonizing; it shows the pain that surrounds this issue for everybody, from the abortion-minded mother to the adoptive parents dealing with the fallout of her decision.
As I mentioned, October Baby, which is rated PG-13 for mature themes, opens today. Come to BreakPoint.org, and we’ll link you to the movie’s website so you can see if it’s playing at a theater near you. Then go and see this strong yet sensitive depiction of the human side of abortion, and take your friends.
As October Baby and Doonby show, a good story can do so much — even more than a sermon or a lecture — to reach people and help them look at life in a whole new way.
And we Christians would do well to support films and filmmakers that do just that.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media and print.
Publication date: March 23, 2012