Over the last month I was fortunate to see two British films at one of our local movie theaters; Yesterday, a Danny Boyle film and Blinded By the Light, directed by Gurinder Chadha. Boyle has directed some terrific films including Slumdog Millionaire (2008), Trainspotting (1996) and 127 Hours (2010). Chadha directed Bend it Like Beckham (2002), a delightful film about women’s soccer in the UK starring an unknown actress Kieira Knightly who went on to star in Pirates of the Caribbean (2003). Boyle is known for his unique visual style including the use of dutch tilt shots and Chadha likes to explore the lives of Indians living in England.
I was pleasantly surprised by Yesterday and Blinded by the Light for different reasons. Yesterday begins with a struggling musician (Jack Malik) and his long-suffering manger (Ellie Appleton) that believes in him in spite of multiple set backs and his inability to make it big. One night he tells Ellie he’s had it and is quitting the music scene and gets on his bicycle to ride home when the power goes out across the globe for thirteen seconds. When the power is restored Malik is hit by a bus (and survives). The power outage has caused an inexplicable change in history including the Beatles never existing. When Jack gets out of the hospital he discovers that he’s the only one who knows about the Beatles and he decides to cut an album using classic Beatles songs. Jack is discovered by Ed Sheeran, a famous musical artist from Britain and he becomes increasingly unhappy knowing he’s a fake who has stolen the songs of the most famous musical group to have ever existed. The story is predictable except for a scene between Jack and Ellie in a hotel room. After a night of heavy drinking they make out. This leads to the moment where they are going to sleep together. In that moment of passion Ellie says no to Jack because she doesn’t want to be a one-night stand for him. This moment of virtue eventually leads to the third act where they get married and have two kids, living happily ever after. Sounds a lot like courtship to me!
In Blinded by the Light the main character Javed is an awkward Pakistani sixteen-year-old living in Britain in the late 1980’s. His family life is tense as he navigates the traditions of Pakistani life and living with teen angst while trying to figure out his place in the world through his poetry. A delightful Pakistani friend introduces him to Bruce Springsteen’s music and this begins a journey of self-discovery as he finds his voice and his place in the world. Again, I found the movie fairly predictable as he rebels against his parents, especially his domineering father who thinks his artistic endeavors are trite and impractical. He has rebellious classmates and supportive teachers who remind him to follow his dreams no matter what others think. This sets up a surprisingly emotional ending that reinforces the importance of our roots and never forgetting where we’ve come from and to honor our parents. The proverbial wisdom in this moment caught me off guard as I was waiting for Javed to tell his father off and walk into the sunset reminding the audience that life is all about me. The ending could have come off as sentimental and preachy but Javed was such an endearing character that it came across as sincere and inspiring.
Blinded by the Light has an 88% positive rating from Rotten Tomatoes with no sex, no foul language and very little violence. Reviewers loved the story, the performances and were moved by the ending. This is a powerful reminder to me to stay true to my stories and to tell them honestly and not apologize for the Biblical life lessons. If you’re an up and coming storyteller I’d encourage you to see these films as well as Because of Grácia. All three films will hopefully inspire you to tell truthful stories, with memorable characters and storylines that make you want to do the right thing.
Pastors are human. Pastors are parents. Pastors need our prayers and support.
Here’s a cautionary tale from one pastor about how Because Of Grácia impacted his relationship with his teenage daughter.
Thank you Pastor James for your honesty!
“Recently one of my daughters has become interested in a particular boy from her youth group. We have this rule of no dating until 16 and she is 15 so not there yet. As a dad it’s hard for me because I’m not used to sharing the affections of my daughter with another guy. And the fact that my daughter has made some not so wise choices that are a poor reflection of her godly character.
This breaks my heart as a father and makes me feel like a failure as a pastor. I related personally to Pastor Ryan in the movie in regard to his relationship with his daughter Bobbi.
Pastors can have a difficult time not allowing the pressures of ministry to filter into their home. Sometimes those pressures end up affecting the relationship of those who are nearest and dearest to us. Dealing with a cocktail of emotions… anger, disappointment, failure, depression, feeling extremely vulnerable and exposed. These feelings unfortunately carried into our conversations with my daughter that turned into screaming matches. These often ended in me saying things I don’t really mean in my heart and resulted in slamming doors.
It’s easier to look from the outside in to see where things have come off the rails - like watching it unfold in the movie. However when you’re in the middle of it, in your own home, it’s very different to stop, step back and evaluate.
I want my daughter to know that I love her more than I love the church. I want her to know my love for her is not conditional. I want my daughter to rely on God’s Holy Spirit for matters of the heart. I want my daughter to know I trust her and to trust me that I’ve set parameters to protect her.
I recognize that my daughter and I are long overdue for a daddy/daughter date.
This movie is so real to life, it was my wake up call."
Like the character Bobbi Ryan, Kori found herself facing a crisis pregnancy. Sadly, many young girls and women face this situation and need to make huge and life altering decisions.
I love Because Of Grácia! This film moves me every time I watch it. The Bobbi and Jesse story is so much of what I lived through in my own life during a crisis pregnancy. This movie forthrightly addresses and portrays the very real fears and devastation that accompany a crisis pregnancy. And the authenticity and love that Grácia offers Bobbi in her anguish satisfies my longing for goodness, wholeness, and healing in a very painful and challenging situation. To see Bobby rise above her circumstances thrills my soul and is a picture of God taking the ashes of a life and turning them into vast beauty. Also, knowing that Grácia has a hard event in her own history that she has been able to overcome, and how she chooses to live a powerfully intentional life in Jesus inspires. Her liberty is pronounced, abundant, refreshing, and awesome. Jesus is the great Redeemer of our lives no matter what we have been through. There is nothing He can not set right. “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.”
Own your life. Be brave. And “speak the truth even if your voice shakes.” Live life abundant.
Kori is the wife of Jamie and a homeschooling momma to two heroes-in-training. Once a dancer at Disneyland, she is now dancing upon injustice and working for truth in whatever sphere of influence the Lord puts her in.
Area Director for Concerned Women Of America of East Texas, Kori is diving into work she never imagined she’d be such an active part of: public policy. She has a deep love for God’s word, life and righteousness and loves to serve her family. Kori has a passion for America and its providential history.
“Although I believe the intention of this film was to be geared towards the younger generation, it has affected me profoundly. I was fortunate to rent Because of Grácia on pay per view about a week after my father passed away. I grew up in a Jewish household but I never had a connection to judaism. I never had a bat mitzvah or any celebration of faith to even recognize it. I did however have a feeling that Jesus was real and had become curious about it as I got older. There’s a lot of information in this film. One part being that there is no actual scientific proof about where we all came from. I did not know it took faith to believe in the science. There was also a beautiful spoken word that the character Chase tells and it speaks to feeling a connection between himself and Jesus. It’s something I wanted and it made me really look at myself and what I believe.
About a week after seeing this movie (for the 8th time maybe!) I was on my way to work and listening to the soundtrack of the movie (I downloaded some songs and made a playlist). Something felt like it was breaking free from within me and it was as if I had no control over the emotions. The words of the film and that spoken word were ringing in my head and suddenly I felt my own personal connection to Jesus. As if he were sitting up in the stars looking down at me letting me know he’s there and real and that I would be okay. I believe if I hadn’t seen this film and heard these words these actors said that I might still be wondering around questioning everything. I’m thankful for everyone involved in allowing someone like myself to see this movie and help create my relationship with Jesus Christ."