January 5, 2010
A few weeks ago, my wife, Patty, and I watched a fabulous movie, one that I'd really never heard of before. It's called Saints and Soldiers, and it was made back in 2003. We rented it on Netflix because it sounded like a pretty good story. And it certainly is.
The movie, which is very well done and based on true events, hooks you from the first instant. It's winter 1944. At the height of the Battle of the Bulge, near a Belgian village named Malmedy, a group of captured American GIs are being herded together by German SS troops—fanatical Nazis.
If you know anything about World War II, you'll know that the Malmedy Massacre of American troops was one of the most infamous events of the war.
The movie follows the harrowing escape of four of the American GIs—who flee the massacre scene and try to find their way back through enemy lines. One is a tough Army sergeant, a natural leader. Another is a hard-bitten medic, who has had enough of the war, and enough of the Germans. Another is a Cajun country boy.
But the hero of the film is a young, quiet corporal. He's an expert shot. His nickname is "Deacon," because before the war he was a missionary living in—of all places—Berlin. But he is haunted by a horrible tragedy—an event that took place just a few weeks prior to the massacre.
Deacon's struggle with the tragedy (I don't want to spoil too much of the plot for you) provides the subtext for the film. He hasn't slept for days, and as he and his comrades march through the snow, constantly on the alert for the enemy, he begins to hallucinate—endangering the lives of them all.
The medic, an avowed atheist, does his best to keep the young corporal from delirium—so he engages him in conversation. He targets the corporal's faith, asking vexing questions about God's existence in the face of inhumanity, of suffering, of young men bleeding to death far from home. The dialogue between Deacon and the atheist medic alone is worth the rental fee.
The drama and tension are heightened when the four GIs come across a downed British airman—a man with vital information that he has to get to Allied headquarters as soon as possible, and at all costs.
Now their trek becomes not only a mission to save their own lives, but perhaps the lives of thousands of Allied soldiers.
How each man responds is a lesson in human nature—and above all, a glimpse into the imago Dei, the image of God imprinted on each human soul.
Altruism, love, the willingness to sacrifice self for the life of comrades in arms, or for a cause greater than oneself, these are on display in abundance in Saints and Soldiers.
And the climax of the movie produces a stunning, breathtaking visual—the likeness of the greatest sacrifice of all.
Now, Saints and Soldiers is rated PG-13 for war violence. It may not be suitable for pre-teens. But I'm happy to report that there is no profanity or sexuality.
So I recommend you rent Saints and Sinners. See it with friends. Engage them with the tough questions. And with the unforgettable message: "Greater love hath no man than this."
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.