March 16, 2012

Be Our Guest / Elizabeth Jamison

Power of God’s forgiveness shines through in movie’s pro-life message

Elizabeth JamisonI recently attended a pre-screening of October Baby, a movie which will be released in mainstream theaters on March 23.

Hannah, played by Rachel Hendrix, is a brilliant, talented college student with a knack for theater in this coming-of-age film. She acts and studies harder than most students.

Like many young adults, she struggles with her identity, and fights persistent anxiety and depression.

Unlike most of her peers, Hannah has been diagnosed with epilepsy and chronic asthma since childhood. She underwent several hip surgeries within her first couple of years of life, and never received an explanation.

In a painful scene at the beginning of the movie, Hannah finds out for the first time that not only is she adopted, but her birth was indeed a miracle. At 24 weeks gestation, she was delivered alive in the hospital after a failed abortion.

As she begins to wrestle with this question about her identity, Hannah leaves on a spring break trip with Jason, her childhood best friend, played by Jason Burkey, in search of her biological mother. What results is an emotionally riveting journey of anger, tears, hope, betrayal, guilt and, ultimately, a compelling account of forgiveness, healing and peace.

Hannah has strong anchors of support—her adoptive parents, Dr. and Mrs. Wallace, played by John Schneider and Jennifer Price, and Jason. The movie contains a subplot in which Jason’s and Hannah’s friendship develops into something more. Viewers will watch these two college students enter into a pure romance based on genuine friendship and trust.

Near the end of the movie, Hannah is sitting in St. Paul’s Cathedral in Birmingham, Ala., and is approached by the parish priest, who sits down next to her. After she sheepishly shares with him that she is a Baptist, he shrugs his shoulders and pastorally shares with her some of the words of St. Paul. His words help her understand that the mercy of Jesus alone will give her the strength to forgive her biological mother. He says, “As the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do” (Col 3:13).

October Baby has a persuasive message that has the power to engage the unconvinced, help the brokenhearted begin to heal, and encourage the faithful to keep praying for and defending life during this 40th year of legalized abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

Producers and writers Andrew and Jon Erwin spent two years making this film after being inspired by Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor who speaks internationally. The Erwin brothers partnered with Provident Films, which created Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous and now October Baby.

I admire the filmmakers for their thoughtful and thorough portrayal of the many people affected by abortion—the survivors, the post-abortive mothers and fathers, the family members, the clinic workers, … all of us, really.

While the characters in the movie come to a peaceful resolution by the end of the film, this is not the case for so many families who continue to suffer in silence. The film is rated PG-13 for the mature thematic content pertaining to abortion. I would say that most eighth-graders and older students would be fine to see this film with an adult.

According to the movie’s promotional website, www.octoberbabymovie.net, “The producers of October Baby have assigned 10 percent of the profits of this movie to the Every Life is Beautiful Fund, which will distribute funds to frontline organizations helping women facing crisis pregnancies, life-affirming adoption agencies and those caring for orphans.”

October Baby shows the hurt of abortion that causes ruptures in families and individuals and, most importantly, conveys the healing power of God’s forgiveness in all things.
 

(Elizabeth Jamison is associate director of vocations for the archdiocese.)

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