Monday, December 02, 2013

Movie: Philomena...Catholic Review

Ending a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, celebrating the first Sunday in Advent, it seemed like a good afternoon to take in one last event and go see a movie at the local Harkins Theater.
“What to see, Hmmm?”
The wife and I decide to see a 3:45pm showing of a movie that stirred our curiosity by some of the advertisements on TV. The movie ‘Philomena starring Judi Dench (‘M’ from 007 fame) and Steve Coogan who I’ve seen in a number of movies, ‘The Night at the Museum’ and more recently the voice artist on ‘Despicable Me2’ come to mind.
A story we thought would be centered on a young un-married mother who gave her son up for adoption and in her elder years is driven to find out what happened to him and maybe make contact.
Well, we had a couple of other movies higher up on the list (The Christmas Candle and The Book Thief) but both weren’t showing local yet so we decided on ‘Philomena’.
The movie synopsis is as follows:
Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, PHILOMENA focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee, mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock - something her Irish-Catholic community didn't have the highest opinion of - and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn't allow for any sort of inquiry into the son's whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Lee meets Sixsmith, a BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son.(Harkins Theater website)
Unfortunately I didn’t read this until after seeing the movie. As I read it now the line that reads “In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn't allow for any sort of inquiry into the son's whereabouts”, should have set off bells in my head. There is no church doctrine that forces one to sign a contract of this sort.
I wouldn’t have wasted my money on the film had I read this but my wife pointed out later that it was probably a good thing we viewed it so as to answer questions later from friends and family who had or will see it.
The movie is clearly an anti-Catholic story, “based on a true event” as it claims that tells of child selling for profit and “evil nuns” imprisoning young helpless women as slaves to work-off any cost incurred for delivering and caring for their children while waiting for them to be adopted.
As I was watching the movie, the first thing that came to mind was, this is based on a true story? I’ve seen other such movies which claim the same thing. The movie “The Rite” is one example. I first read the book about a priest who answers the call to learn and perform exorcisms has nothing to do with the movie at all except that there are priest involve in the story.  Demons and possessions with all its special effects are all Hollywood’s definition  of “based on a true event or story”.
Critics of the new movie ‘Captain Philips’ are also pointing out Hollywood’s free-reign with what they portray as facts. Even the Captain Philips ship crew is suing him for the portrayal or non-portrayal of facts in the story.
From the get go the movie screen writers waste no time in showing the cruelty of the nuns of the Abbey, their mistreatment of the un-wed mothers and the selling of children without consent.
If this Abbey was a place for un-wed mothers to be cared for during and after their pregnancies or if as an adoption agency there wouldn’t be any cost to contend with (food, shelter, medical supplies) you’d never know it.
In the movie, at the time of delivery of Philomena’s baby, it is voiced that “the baby is breach!” or feet first. The delivering nun cries out that the mother needs medication, but the head nun says, “No medication, it’s part of her [the mother’s] temporal punishment”.
Really, come on now…
Later when Philomena finds out about her long lost son, who happens to be gay and has died of aids, it is pointed out that he worked for then President Regan and the GOP frowned upon gays working in the party, a reason for his dismissal.
Wow…they went all the way with this story, anti-Catholic and anti-Republican too.
At times even the dialogue is in your face with contempt for the Catholic Church.
Okay, let’s say for arguments sake that this whole story is true as told, the evil nuns and all.
Would that make the Catholic Church evil?
No of course not. The truth of the Catholic Church doesn’t rely on the individuals in the church. There will always be those in the church that are wrong and don’t follow the true teachings of the church.
The Catholic Church is one of the most giving and I would argue THE most giving institution on the planet.
It cares for the poor and un-wed mothers, feeding the hungry and caring for the sick and the dying.
That can’t be denied. But the release of this movie, this being the first Sunday of Advent is a timing that I would be surprised was planned.
Their strategy may be working too. Upon leaving the theater I could hear the other patrons whispering this and that about the Catholic Church. ‘Those Catholics..’ or ‘The Catholic Church…tisk, tisk, tisk’.
As we set out to live the ‘New Evangelization’ we have our work cut out for us. The secular society, especially Hollywood is in full war mode against the Church.
Go see ‘The Christmas Candle’ and/or ‘The Book Thief’ instead.

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