March 31, 2006

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Movie depicts Millions of scenes of faith and truth

Discovering a Lenten spiritual resource that the entire family may use seems to be rare these days, but guess what? We have one right under our noses (or, at least in the video/DVD store) in the form of the movie titled Millions.

In the December 2005 issue of St. Anthony Messenger, this movie was praised by a reviewer, Sister Rose Pacatte, a member of the Daughters of St. Paul. She described it as a “family Christmas classic.”

Millions is the story of a little English boy who lives with his older brother and his dad in a loving home saddened by the recent death of their mother and wife. The young boy misses his mother, who has instilled in him true faith and absolute trust in God and the saints.

In his loneliness and grief, the boy “sees” saints such as St. Francis of Assisi and St. Peter, who direct him through his various problems with kindly advice. Oftentimes, it’s humorous, as when St. Peter tells him he has to hurry because he’s “on the gate.” The little boy always asks if they happen to know “St. Maureen,” his mum, whom he’s sure is up in heaven.

While this boy is fantasizing to assuage grief, the older boy seems impervious to it. But, as the story unfolds, we see that he, too, suffers deeply and is somewhat resentful of his brother’s coping strategy. Meanwhile, the devastated father meets a nice woman, who begins to help him live again.

The little boy suddenly finds a large satchel of money, which has been tossed off a train by robbers. He thinks it’s a gift from God, and is determined to systematically give it away to the poor. He does this, sometimes with the aid of his skeptical brother. Eventually, the father and his lady friend learn about the money and desperately try to exchange it for Euros in the last few days before Great Britain changes over its currency.

All the family’s problems are brought to a climax by the ruckus over the money. The boys’ grief, the father’s relationship with his friend—even the fate of the robbers—seems unresolved and impossible of a good outcome. But in the end, the little boy’s sweet faith brings about justice, and a return to love and security for all. This movie is simply a classic family film of spiritual value during Lent or anytime.

So, I was surprised to read a letter to the editor in the February 2006 issue of St. Anthony Messenger, in which someone took the reviewer to task for praising a film which included “pornography.” She referred to a scene in which the boys discover a lingerie ad on the Internet and see a woman’s breasts in a bra.

However, as Sister Rose replied, this scene actually reinforces morality. When the little boy asks the older brother what the breasts are and what they’re for, he answers that they are what mothers feed their babies with. And, when asked if their mother did that for them, the older boy says he remembers her feeding the little guy that way. For a moment, both boys are rapt as they remember their good mom.

It seems to me Lent is a great time to get down to some of the realities of faith—a family’s love for each other, justice for the poor, communion with the saints.

Millions helps do that for us.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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