My prince had a significant challenge with this date–he likes movies, but the vast majority of movies make me spiritually ill. I don’t just mean that I don’t like them. They leave me disturbed, emotionally unbalanced…for days. It’s not a pretty sight. My one and only “blind date” (a group activity hosted by my wing of the dorm) was a wash because it started with a movie (with takeout from the dining hall) whose “hero” was as morally despicable at the end as he was at the beginning…but he “saved the day” with his immoral practises. The movie was obviously trying to pull emotional strings to make the audience happy about that, which I resented–don’t manipulate my heart into approving of something that Iknow is wrong! The whole experience left me a basket-case for the rest of the night. I felt sorry for the poor fellow who was stuck with me in that state, and I wasn’t too surprised that I never saw him again.
So much for the typical “dinner and a movie” date!
But my prince was determined. A few days before our scheduled date night, he gave me this invitation:
I found the text inside reassuring. I’ve heard good things about “Chariots of Fire.”
The date itself got something of a late start. My prince had said I wouldn’t need to worry about preparing supper, but in the flurry of school, bringing home leftovers from an athletic breakfast, picking up a few groceries on the way home & finding the movie, he’d forgotten to pick up the rotisserie chicken he had in mind (for me–I’m not sure what he was planning to eat). So he pulled a couple of “instameals” (intentional leftovers) from the freezer & heated them up for me.
By then we just barely had time to eat & start the DVD (on his laptop) soon enough to finish around bedtime (good thing it was only 2 hours!). We never did make the popcorn (no biggie…).
I certainly did appreciate the message about keeping the Sabbath. I started doing that in college after reflecting on the Sunday Gospel where Jesus says, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). It finally occurred to me that God’s doing me a favor! He’s giving me rest–something He and I both know I need (and want!), but that I wouldn’t dare take for myself. If He wanted me to eat ice cream, would I refuse? So I stopped studying (or doing other work or making other people work) on Sundays (whether or not I had a test on Monday!). I’ve never regretted it.
One sadness in the movie for me was seeing so many wonderfully devout people making so many sacrifices for God–and being deprived of the holy sacrifice of the Mass (if only they knew!).
I had some trouble keeping characters straight (which is normal for me) and catching what was going on several times. My face recognition isn’t all that good–the movie was nearly over before I realized that Lord Lindsay & Eric Liddell were different people (they’re both blond runners!). Watching the producer’s commentary on our next night at home (Wednesday), helped a lot.
I did some searching online too, trying to figure out where the title came from (yes, I’m the curious type :)). It’s actually a line from William Blake’s “And Did Those Feet In Ancient Time,” which was turned into the tremendously popular, patriotic British hymn (vying for recognition as a national anthem) “Jerusalem” (which can be heard here), sung toward the end of the movie. The original poem, of course, is referencing the fiery chariot in which Elijah was taken up to Heaven (II Kings 2:11).
I was pleased to learn that Harold Abrahams converted to Christianity later in life–in fact, to Catholicism! Eric Liddell died in a Chinese internment camp after the Communists took over (my prince exclaimed, “A martyr!”–I shudder think what he went through). Chinese authorities later revealed that Liddell had given up an opportunity to leave the camp in favor of letting a pregnant woman go instead. Shades of St. Maximillian Kolbe!
We just finished watching the rest of the commentary & extra scenes Sunday (time’s running out for returning the DVD to the library!). Ironically enough, the filming continued on Sundays (!), highlighting the fact that the message of the movie was really one of moral relativism–“I’m inspired when you live up to your beliefs, whatever they may be, but I don’t believe there is such a thing as absolute Reality–your truth for you, my truth for me” (St. Maximillian Kolbe had a thing or two to say about that!).
That’s what happens when secular “anthropologists” look at Christianity through a movie camera (same thing happened with “Into Great Silence”–wonderful footage, but the cameraman didn’t know what he was looking at. He missed the Mass altogether!). They tried…and they were generous according to their lights. All the same, I’m grateful that there are Christian film makers who can present an insider’s view…(I love “Therese”!)
(see what my prince was up against?!)
But…my prince did succeed in that I wasn’t a basket-case by the end of the movie, and we found some very interesting and edifying things in the process :).