This past Sunday, I went to the opening of October Baby – a well-done pro-life film. It was especially well-done because it was not full of moments where you felt that you were being persuaded that abortion is wrong. Rather, it gave powerful portrayals of people trying to make sense of the past, to pick up the pieces and heal from the guilt and lingering emotional effect of a failed abortion twenty years earlier. The story taps into the transcendent beauty and power of repentance, forgiveness and healing. This puts it on my list of top pro-life films – at #4.
And what, you ask, are the three that surpass it? Well, they my surprise you, since two of the three have nothing to do with being anti-abortion. That’s right, I’m not using “pro-life” in the narrow, politically-charged sense. I’m thinking of movies that put a high value on life because life itself is a miracle, a gift from God, and that we can fight to preserve and value it with much. So my next pick is the Italian-made Life is Beautiful for #3.
It’s remarkable the way this movie continually dances between hilarity and tragedy, as a father shields his son from the dark realities of life in a concentration camp while making great sacrifices in the struggle to preserve the one he loves most. This one could readily be switched out for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, a flick set in the same era. However, since the former has the distinction of being the first movie that moved me to tears, and the latter gave my wife nightmares….well, I think you follow. But watch them both.
The next is a South African film. In this one, a hardened street kid known as a criminal and killer accidentally steals a car with a newborn baby in the back seat. This starts him on a journey that forces him to think about life differently than ever before – as more than just survival.Coming in at #3 is the remarkable Tsotsi.
By the time you finish the last three recommendations, you may be tired of subtitles. Which is why I’ll recommend one that’s mostly in English, with only a few scenes in subtitles as the top pick. While this one deals with the topic of abortion versus life, Bella is a far cry stylistically from October Baby.
The opening of the story moves a bit slowly, and many scenes leave you to observe and infer, rather than spelling everything out in dialogue. But if you sit back and enjoy the camera shots, you will be caught up in the breathtaking cinematography. This one takes you inside the mind of a young woman’s struggle to respond to a pregnancy she knows she’s not ready for – and takes her silent-but-strong friend on a journey into the guilt of his past. In the end, they find that the challenge pushes both of them toward the redemption they need. Much of the movie takes place in a restaurant, so I recommend that you enjoy this one in combination with some high-quality Latin American food (since if you don’t, the movie will make you hungry for it anyway).
There are my picks – now give me yours in the comments.
5 thoughts on “What does “Pro-Life Film” Mean? (With my top picks)”
Loved “Life is Beautiful” – bring a full box of tissues for that one, but full of so much laughter and joy too! …and I’ve seen Bella as well and really liked it. Will have to check out the other two. Great job summarizing these movies, too. -Sarah
Seen all of these except October Baby, I’ll have to think about my picks, though maybe the Pianist? Does that count as a pro-life film? BTW, you only have 4 films on your top 5 :-).
Oops, thanks for pointing out the 5 – I thought I had edited them all out before (but now I have!) Although, since I sneaked a double-pick in, I can make that excuse… Would the pianist be pro-life, or pro-beauty? Schindler’s list would surely qualify.
Bella is a fantastic movie. I watched it not knowing that it was pro-life. The wonderful thing is how the director doesn’t slap you in the face with the message and you really don’t know what the mom’s decision will be until the end. This had me far more emotionally invested in the film.
I totally agree! I half-expected October baby to be too in-your-face, but was pleasantly surprised!