We screened the 2005 Indie film "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days", and we had a nice turn-out with tea, popcorn, chips, and cookies--and Chris Lewis even turned up with Sour Skittles. Anyway, we had gone partners with Rigel Thurston on a new projector and screen and speakers, and the set-up was looking really impressive until we popped the DVD into the computer and nothing happened. Fortunately, the room was full of tech people, so Baker Galloway and Father Deacon Basil and Winston Chapman and Rebekah Galloway (who isn't a tech person, but she was helping out anyway) went to work and rigged up some sort of arrangement which appeared to involve the store's computer and several extension cords and the Exit Sign over the door and the Christmas lights that we had left up outside. When they fired it up, there weren't any sparks, and none of the lights in the neighborhood appeared to flicker or go dim, so it all turned out well.
Unfortunately, by then, it was almost 7:45, and the movie was two hours long, so, by the time it was over, it was pretty late, and we weren't able to have our discussion. Which was a bummer until the other day when Rebekah was bugging me about getting started on this blog, and it occurred to me that we could have our discussion here at Preparing For Illumination--and this won't even require all the crawling around under the furniture that we had to go through in order to get the movie started. So, here are my observations, and I hope that all you folks who were with us on Wednesday night--or who wanted to be with us on Wednesday night--will weigh in.
I thought that one of the most effective aspects of the movie was the fact that, while the heroine's moral choices were clear, the context in which she made them was very murky. Her finance, for example, was an officer in the German Army and, apparently, a loyal Nazi--yet she clearly loved him and hoped to spend the rest of her life with him. Several of the male conspirators had also served in the armed forces--and Sophie herself had once been part of a Nazi youth organization. Our view of Nazi Germany is often pretty black and white--implying that, if we had lived back then, we would have know precisely what to do. But the fact that the heroine was very much a part of German society made her choices even more compelling.
I also thought there were profound parallels between the ways in which the Nazis went about their genocidal work and the ways in which our society deals with abortion. When Sophie talked about the fact that mentally challenged children were being killed, and when her brother, Hans, talked about the fact that he had witnessed German soldiers killing women and children, the response from the authorities was that these were just rumors and lies or that these people were better off dead. In other words, the Nazis redefined what it meant to be human, and they relied on the fact that few people had actually witnessed the atrocities they were committing. And it works that way in our culture in regards to abortion--because we do not see unborn children being killed, and because we have labeled these children as something less than human, then we can go on with our lives while millions of unborn children are put to death. Of course, viewing this movie the week before our participation in the Annual March For Life through downtown Austin, and the week when our new president has overturned the Mexico City Policy and has promised to promote abortions in other, more dramatic ways has kept all this front and center for me.
Cinematically, I loved the film's spare qualities and the use of sunlight as a powerful symbol. I thought the attempt at a happy ending--or, at least, a significant ending--was really forced, though. The film would have been much more forceful had it ended with the breath-taking execution scene.
Those are my thoughts--at least at this point. You guys let me know what you think and what we can do to make our next movie night even better (though, I'm sorry, Chris, I'm not endorsing Sour Skittles).