What defines beauty? How do we find things that touch over very souls? Today I want to look at several films that bring me to the brink of tears and stir my heart into a frenzy of passion and humility. These films cross genres and are beautiful for the agony they arise within us – not always because they have a happy or satisfying ending. Let me know the films that have touched your heart and called you out.
Hotel Rwanda – PG-13 – Released: 2004 – Tells the gut-wrenching story of the Rwandan genocide and one man who was willing to stand up to the oppression – while we as the world stood quiet. What is the role of the United States or any country in the world, especially when it involves genocide? This film brings that question straight into our hearts and refuses to let us go until we have wrestled deeply with it.
Something the Lord Made – NR – Released: 2005 – Dr. Alfred Blalock (Alan Rickman) hires an African-American carpenter, Vivian Thomas (Mos Def), to assist him around his medical offices. Vivian shows great ingenuity and becomes the forerunner in a partnership between Blalock and Thomas that lead to radical, life-saving medical innovations. All this occurs against a background of racism in which Thomas is unable to take credit for his own work due to his skin color and lack of a medical degree. An exciting film about the triumph of man over illness and oppression.
Life Is Beautiful – PG-13 – Released: 1998 – Roberto Benigni is an absolute genius. He creates and stars in this amazing film that does the impossible – creates a respectful and heart-warming comedy of the Holocaust during World War II. I know, it sounds impossible, but you will have to see this absolutely marvelous film to understand it.
The Passion of the Christ – R – Released: 2004 – Mel Gibson’s amazing vision of the torture and crucifixion of Christ. A painful, beautiful, disturbing portrayal of what Jesus suffered for the sake of mankind.
We Were Soldiers – R – Release Date: 2002 – Mel Gibson strikes again with this gritty film about the Vietnam War. Based on the true story of the 7th Cav. (carried by helicopters, not horses) this film is an epic solely on its war film merits alone. However, the reason it makes this list is not for its non-stop action but the interweaving of the stories of the wives who were left at home and the anguish they face waiting the news whether their husband has joined the every growing list of killed in action.
Awakenings – PG-13 – Release Date: 1990 – Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro star in this marvelous true story of one doctor who dared to find a cure for individuals left comatose for decades by encephalitis. The story is encouraging and heartbreaking and challenges us to remember the potential we have to discover new cures and better ways of living.
Luther – PG-13 – Release Date: 2003 – Martin Luther was one of the most significant leaders of a movement known as the Reformation which birthed the division between Protestant and Catholic churches. Luther’s personal struggle with faith and battle to reform the excesses of the church are marvelously displayed and recitations of some of Luther’s most famous words by Joseph Fiennes are enough to send shivers down the spine.