I’m about to admit something that may shock people to the core of their Christmas-movie-tradition centers.
I have not seen Home Alone beyond the first five minutes. No, I’m not talking about the sequels, I mean the first one. The famous one. The “Merry Christmas, you filthy animals!” one.
It’s A Wonderful Life gets really, really, really long for me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the message, I absolutely do. I’m rather fond of Jimmy Stewart as well. I watched more black and white movies as a kid than movies with color, so that’s not stopping me. There’s nothing “wrong” with It’s A Wonderful Life, it just doesn’t move me that way it does for other people. I have watched it twice, and I’m done for another decade or two.
And another thing…
I didn’t fall in love with White Christmas. To be honest, most of the time I was staring in horror at how unhealthily thin the younger sister was. My sadness was deepened when I learned the actress starved herself in order to maintain her reputation as being ridiculously small. She ended up dying too young of cancer that was connected to malnutrition. I have much to say on the subject of Hollywood’s trail of bodies, but that’s for another time.
And just when you thought I was done…
My family and I got 15 minutes into the Jim Carrey version of The Grinch That Stole Christmas before we couldn’t do it anymore. We turned it off and didn’t care. My version of the Grinch is the recent animated one starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the voice role of Mr. Grinch. It’s beautiful, deep, light, and just really beautiful visually. It’s the perfect bite of a Christmas movie, and that is the version my future children will know of as “the Grinch movie”.
Aha! But there’s more!
I saw Miracle On 34th Street once. It was okay. Just okay.
I didn’t set out to be different from the rest of American society in this particular way. That’s not how I roll, I don’t “have to be different” just to feel special. Things just happen.
I do, however, have some favorite Christmas movies. Many favorites, but I’m going to feature 3 that are likely not as well known and definitely underappreciated. It’s time to refresh that Christmas watchlist, my friends. Branch out, try something new.
It Happened On 5th Avenue (1947)
Honestly, I don’t know why this one isn’t more acclaimed than Miracle On 34th Street. This gem of a movie absolutely fits the bill for a perfect Christmas watch. It has heart, humor, and a happy ending.
Taking place right after WWII, a group of homeless people finds shelter by squatting in a rich, unhappy millionaire’s home while he is away for the winter season. They are joined by the millionaire’s daughter, who pretends to be one of them in order to enjoy the fun and camaraderie of the situation. Before long, she drags her father into it, and he is forced to play another “poor man” who is squatting in his own home.
This movie is utterly hilarious. I mean, hilarious! The number of misunderstandings, the amount of times the millionaire is utterly flabbergasted, and the changes that result from his time with these people is a delightful journey, all taking place leading up to the Christmas season.
Another neat feature of this movie is showing the housing crisis faced by some of the GI’s and their families post-WWII.
This movie is one I can rewatch more often and not get bored. It’s a nice story with appeal to multiple ages and personalities. It makes use of verbal, situational, and physical humor. And the ending is tied with such a nice, neat bow, you genuinely feel like something beautiful was accomplished. It’s delightful!
A made-for-TV movie about a whimsical toymaker during the WWI era. A.C. Gilbert and his brother Frank go out on a financial limb and start a toy company. They are wildly successful. A. C.’s inventive spirit and his brother’s practical mind create one of the foremost toy companies in the United States. It’s a wonderful place to create, to play, and to work.
Until the shadow of WWI comes looming…Frank enlists, and A.C. is approached by representatives from Woodrow Wilson who request him to turn his beautiful toy factory into a weapon and munitions factory.
I’ll sum up the whole movie with the movie’s own tagline – He couldn’t stop the war, but he wouldn’t let the war stop Christmas.
The historical setting is deeply intriguing as many more movies often focus on WWII. But WWI came first, and it shaped the world that birthed WWII. The characters are very engaging, particularly A.C. and his beautiful wife, Mary (who is a whole head taller than him which is adorable). I love watching the way this family faces sadness, loss, uncertainty. They go through a lot (everyone did back then) and yet, they continue to fight for the light, hope, and the oxygen that a whole country needs!
Christmas is necessary. Christmas brings healing. Christmas brings hope. Celebrating Christmas is warfare against the darkness of this fallen world. That’s the message of this movie, and it’s beautiful.
The power of this story comes with raw human emotion, whimsical invention, and a rich historical setting.
I saved the best for last. If there was a team of people assigned to the promotion and recommendation of this movie, I would already be a senior member of said team.
This is the story behind the story of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. I’m already deeply in love with Dicken’s work, particularly A Christmas Carol. That story captured my heart during a very difficult Christmas season, and the Lord really used that story to breathe hope, wonder, and joy into my heart.
Charles Dickens is one of the authors I admire the most. He used the power of story to change the world. He saw his occupation as a sacred calling, and considered every story an opportunity to teach someone a truth.
The Man Who Invented Christmas is based upon the true story of the shockingly short deadline Charles Dickens had when he wrote, A Christmas Carol. It isn’t just about Charles writing a new book, or teaching the world something, it is also about facing his own past trauma and personal demons that are robbing him of the joy of his own life. In this movie we see it’s not just the Oliver Twists who need saving, but also the Ebenezer Scrooges.
The magic of this movie is meeting Charles (Dan Stevens knocks it out of the ball park), but also seeing his writing process. As a writer myself, I connect so much with how Charles draws inspiration from the world around him. A stray name that catches his fancy, the sounds of a busy market street, a ghost story he hears his children’s nanny telling them. The characters of A Christmas Carol come alive and speak to Charles as real characters in the story. We also see how personal Charles’ writing is, how much of himself he puts into his stories. The griefs he feels, the hopes he carries, the brokenness he is trying to heal. Good writers do this, we bare our souls and the souls of others in our stories in order to make something beautiful out of them. This movie is such a beautiful blending of fantasy mixed with raw human reality.
The ending is my favorite. For Ebenezer Scrooge is saved, and we learn why he is allowed to be redeemed. But the very best part is the information shared at the beginning of the ending credits. We learn about the real life impact that A Christmas Carol had on the world. My friends, this story truly change the world and changed the way people saw Christmas and each other. God used Charles Dickens’ writing to bring more of His heart to humankind.
This movie shows the power of story and what it can do in full force. And I loved it, absolutely loved it. It’s a deeper watch than It Happened On Fifth Avenue, and definitely more British than The Man Who Saved Christmas, but this one is my favorite.
I highly recommend all of these movies to those who are looking to change up their Christmas watchlist and enjoy the layered beauty and meaning of this holiday. Obviously Jesus is the reason for this whole season, and He is my favorite part of it. Though none of these stories focus on Jesus specifically, they echo pieces of life, beauty, hope, and redemption born from the truth of Jesus. These stories are produced organically from a world that has Jesus in it, He is the source and stories like these show us His heart in multiple ways.
If you’ve seen any of these movies, or choose to watch them after reading my article, what did you think? Merry Christmas!
Resistance is a bit of a tough story to place on the timeline as it begins in the six months leading up to the events of The Force Awakens, and wraps up around the events of The Rise Of Skywalker.
This show has a lighter touch in some ways than the very-heavy Clone Wars series or Star Wars Rebels. Still, it’s provides an hugely important perspective to the story line as a whole, especially for the new territory covered in The Sequel Trilogy.
This fight belongs to everyone, and we all have something to contribute.
Resistance plugs directly into that theme with the main character of Kazuda Xiono. He’s a skilled pilot from the New Republic Navy and the son of a wealthy senator. He’s a nice kid but horribly naive and inexperienced.
Still, he’s got potential, potential that is recognized by everyone’s favorite hotshot, Poe Dameron, who recruits Kaz to become a spy for the Resistance. He is assigned to The Colossus, a large oil platform on a water-covered planet. Intrigue and shenanigans ensue, but the shadow of The First Order and the grievous events that are about to take place slowly move into the show’s plot.
The beauty of this series is that we get some new perspectives on a story where we, the audience, have far more information than the characters themselves. We know how all of the dots connect. We know what we believe about the Empire, the Jedi, The First Order, the Resistance, etc. Not all of our characters know where they stand on these issues. Most of them only have half of the story.
Watching the oh-so-normal character of Kaz progress from a raw recruit to someone who is suddenly thrust into a place of leadership under heartbreaking circumstances is actually rather encouraging. It’s a reminder of what each of us is capable of given the chance. We also see other characters that could easily be underestimated using whatever gifts, talents, and experiences they have to pool together into a common goal.
The key to defeating the Empire, and then The First Order was always one thing above everything else. This HAD to become everyone’s battle, the Rebels/Resistance could only keep this evil at bay for so long. Eventually, all kinds of people across the galaxy were going to have to rise up and do their part.
Star Wars Resistance does an excellent job of showing us how that kind of a movement begins, and how it feeds into a New Age of Resistance in Star Wars.
The Force Awakens : Awakening, Old And New
I think this is my favorite Star Wars movie.
It was the first one I saw in theaters, it was an unforgettable experience and the wealth of emotions I walked away with were intense.
It’s an aptly named movie. The job that this movie had to fulfill was to blend into an already established story line but cover new territory. It had to give us a sense of nostalgia while also laying a path for new plots and characters. J.J. Abrams had to awaken a whole lot of stuff.
He was successful. This movie reminded me of the best parts of what I loved from the Original Trilogy, especially in how he brought back the physical elements of the settings, props, and alien characters.
Story-wise, we experience an awakening on multiple levels.
Finn discovers that the life of a Stormtrooper sucks and he isn’t okay with the job requirements. While we now know that he is Force-sensitive, so that makes him stronger in his will and choice to change, this was a big decision for Star Wars.
The Stormtroopers had been faceless minions for so long, I have wondered since I was a kid if they had any feelings or thoughts of their own. Finn proved the stereotype otherwise.
Finn instantly became a delight to me as I saw him not only fly in the face of brainwashing and discipline, but he also opens himself up to caring about another person (Rey) and facing his biggest fears to protect her.
Poe Dameron is a vital plot-mover in this chapter but he doesn’t experience his biggest challenges and growth until the following two movies.
Han Solo, Leia, Chewbacca, and Luke Skywalker. This movie is described as “Han’s” movie as he is the Original trio-member most featured here.
Clearly some poop has hit the fan in the past 30 years and Han hasn’t been at his best in a long time. Grief can do a lot of things to a person. But while we are saddened to discover how many things have gone wrong, we also see Han again decide to be the man we know and love. The guy who runs into a mess because he’s just crazy enough to think he can make a difference. He still loves deeply, and his actions still change lives around him. Even in death, Han’s presence still lingers in the air.
Chewie is Chewie forever and we love him to pieces.
General Leia is probably the OT character doing best right now, but even she has her regrets. I found the conversations she and Han share about their son and the choices they made honest and humble. They both made mistakes, they’ve both been hurting, but their love is still strong, and they want to fix it.
Luke Skywalker. He’s kind of a disaster. But at least we found him.
Clearly the strongest awakening that happens in this story is for Rey and Kylo Ren.
Rey was just minding her own business, scavenging in the highly-sought after resort location of the deserts of Jakku. She had a thriving community of fellow scavengers and people getting more than enough to eat, and her boss was in the running for Galactic Boss of The Year. Or…not.
The whirlwind of events that catch Rey up out of her lonely life and pull her into a world of myth-turned-reality, new friends, old emotions, and the awakening of her Force abilities is incredible. I love how Rey works her way through this movie, she responds well (mostly) to each thing; but it’s not like she planned for any of this. Everything is a surprise! She’s flying by the seat of her pants this whole movie. It’s kind of nice, she has no expectations and very little pride, so her reactions are genuine. It makes her victories sweeter.
In contrast, Kylo Ren’s awakening is a bit ruder and definitely more uncomfortable for him. He is reprimanded multiple times by his mentor, Snoke, he fails many of the tasks given him, and his family issues are all up in his throat. He discovers someone new who he is both drawn to and afraid of, because he can sense her power.
He kills his dad (not his finest moment) and then gets his butt kicked by a little lady who grew up in a junkyard.
It’s not exactly a fun few days for him, but the truth is something had to be stirred in order for him to advance as a character. We walk into his life and immediately see the amount of daily turmoil he exists in. Kylo Ren is not exactly a likable character in this installment, but we had to start somewhere.
Loss and victory, new friendships, old problems, and a whole bunch of X-wing fire make this movie both a familiar song and a new dance. It awakened the Star Wars fandom and reinvigorated the big screen story that had been silent for well over a decade.
I have parts I love, and parts I’m not overly impressed with. But I think the real purpose of this movie and the strongest theme was this :
Challenge the status quo.
This plot of this movie has some very definable holes. Admiral Holdo’s BIG SECRET PLAN and Finn and Rose’s sideline mission are among the very worst.
Although, Holdo’s brilliant purple hair is definitely something to write home about.
Still, I think this movie did accomplish something important for the Star Wars universe.
Poe and Leia’s relationship. We have seen the mentor/trainee role played out with Jedi and their padawans multiple times, but rarely have we gotten to experience this relationship in a different context.
Leia’s disgust with Poe’s reckless behavior almost seems contradictory in the face of how many sacrifices we’ve seen her and other Rebels make. But perhaps that’s a part of the bigger picture, she’s matured enough to know what missions are worth giving your all, and when it’s time to live to fight another day. An idea that Rose Tico echoes. Perhaps it’s hitting close to home for her since we saw her sister Paige die in Poe’s reckless mission.
Obviously sacrifice and commitment is a part of any endeavor like this, but it’s wise to challenge the idea that we always must go as far as we can, especially when talking about how many casualties you incur. This new approach saves the Resistance’ bacon at the end of the movie where Poe proves he’s been listening by readjusting his mentality, and leading the Resistance out the back door to freedom.
Sometimes people over-complicate the problem. I’ve been one of those people before so I get it, but still. The Jedi are notorious for over-complicating the problem, and unfortunately Luke himself fell into that trap.
Did anyone else notice in the Sequel Trilogy that as soon as Han Solo contradicts Finn’s adorably naive “misconceptions” about the Force, suddenly everything about the Force changed?
That’s not how the Force works.
Uh, wait, maybe it does.
From Leia’s amazing space flight, Rey and Kylo’s strange “Force Time” calls, to Luke’s Force-projection of himself across the galaxy, some pretty wacky stuff happened with the Force.
I guess that sometimes the Force is more mysterious and bizarre than we think. And then again, sometimes you just use it to pick up rocks.
I know this offended some people, but I don’t see why it should. Just because something has been known about for thousands of years doesn’t mean it’s always understood, or used properly. We’ve seen that time and again throughout real human history, it actually adds realism to incorporate it into this fictional universe.
Sometimes mentors are wrong.
The status quo of wise older mentor training the overeager trainee was upheld with Leia and Poe, but it was contradicted with Luke and Rey. Rey earnestly seeks guidance and aid from Luke, but he has little to offer her. By the end of her stay on Ahch-to, Rey is the one schooling Luke. Her wisdom comes from her heart, much like he lived in his younger years. He’s been spending too much time in his head, and he’s tasted the bitter results.
Luke has the maturity and humility to admit his mistakes at the end of this movie and actually help Rey from making the same ones later on. But it was her example that helps to inspire him to action.
No, the good girl can’t always change the bad boy.
Rey and Kylo’s interaction throughout this whole movie gives you a hope that she might be getting through to them. They are tender and vulnerable with each other, Kylo’s betrayal of Snoke and their teamwork to defeat Snoke’s Praetorian Guards makes you believe he will change. It would seem the old belief that “good girls can save the bad boys” is real.
It’s not, Kylo isn’t ready to change yet, Rey can’t get him there. It’s a broken concept that is exposed here for its dangerous flaws. She does her best, it doesn’t work, so she leaves. #timetowipeyourownnosebuster
Even in the next movie when Kylo does change, he makes that choice on his own. Rey was definitely a positive influence on him, but she does not change him. He chooses to change.
You can lose everything and still win.
Failure is not an option. Does that thought ever echo in your mind?
Do or do not, there is no try. What the heck does that mean and does it even make sense? I’m not sure it does.
The Resistance is a disaster at the end of this movie. It’s the lowest point our hero characters have been at since Order 66 and Revenge of The Sith. Sometimes you think you’ve gone as low as you can go, and then you find out there is a sub-basement under the regular one.
That’s where the Resistance is at. Broken, but not beaten. This is a challenge to the status quo that we as humans carry as a great burden on our shoulders.
I can’t lose my house. I’ll die without this relationship. I’ve put everything into this business, it can’t end. I need my car to be okay. Etc.
We have people holding onto things for dear life with the belief that failure is not an option. And a lot of them are missing the bigger picture, holding the wrong priorities, and burning themselves up.
Losing things, relationships, jobs, etc, it’s not fun. But it’s not the end of the world, and you can come back from something like this. You are still alive and that is a gift. We would do well to recognize how many things do not actually define our success or our ability to go on. We would do well to be carriers of hope instead of fear.
The Last Jedi challenged many status quos for Star Wars and wrongful culture in general. Like it, hate it, you have to admit it accomplished that much.
Challenging The Status Quo.
The Rise Of Skywalker : Endings And Beginnings
The Rise of Skywalker was many, many things. Seriously, so much happened in that movie. Some of it was well done and some of it was half-baked. I neither love it to death nor do I hate its guts. I’m not going to try to unpack every detail of the movie, I’m gonna stick to a few specific things.
Leia’s Legacy Is Complete
This was “Leia’s movie”. The devastating death of Carrie Fisher a few years ago caused some major difficulties in giving Leia the ending she richly deserved. But with the miracle of modern technology and people who would not quit, Leia was honored properly.
Leia held on to hope when others lost it. She stayed in the fight when others ran. Leia forgave herself for her mistakes even while she felt the grief of them. Leia worked hard to instill good values and wise judgment into another generation.
Leia absolutely succeeded. She poured herself into people who were willing to receive what she had to offer. Poe was practically a second son to her. His love for Leia and respect for her leadership made him the right person to become her successor.
Rey had raised herself up to this point and did a decent job. But she was so, so hungry for some parenting! Both Han and Luke contributed to her growth, but Leia gave an entire year of her life to training Rey. She was the mother Rey had never gotten to experience.
Both for the Rebels and the Jedi, Leia kept the fire lit and passed on the torch to the next generation.
And even with her dying breath, she called out to her wayward son, and his mother’s voice brought him home.
Princess General Leia Organa Skywalker Solo is a legend, and the legend was honored well. Her legacy lives on in the hearts of those she loved and nurtured.
Chewbacca got a medal. It’s about time.
Palpatine was destroyed by his own flesh and blood, and she was saved from death by the very family line he’d spent decades controlling. #poeticjustice
Kylo Ren is dead, Ben Solo is alive. Ben’s final choice to change and become the person he was made to be was triumphant and honest. He made selfless choices to do the right thing, he gave his own life to save another, and he helped repair much of the damage he had caused. He was forgiven, and he forgave himself. The son of Leia Skywalker and Han Solo was restored and put to rest.
The Voices of the Jedi Returned
It was a stunning moment when beloved voices from Jedi friends of the past were heard in Rey’s head. This nod to all the heroes who had come before her and done their best was a great way to bring this saga to a close. They’d done their part, now it was her turn, and they had her back. It was a nice fan moment that tied in all previous Eras of Star Wars.
Ships from every era of Star Wars could be seen when the mismatched fleet from across the galaxy arrived. I’m sure the super nerds have already torn that scene apart and you can find multiple YouTube videos on the subject. It was a great place to celebrate the larger universe.
Finn and Jannah both represented a group of people that have largely been viewed in one way – unchangeable, evil minions. But their transformations from Stormtrooper to Rebel warriors has proven that change is possible. Just like The Clone Wars series dove into the lives, ideas, and destinies of the clones as individuals, it’s possible that this move could open up new stories about redeemed Stormtroopers.
Finn is Force-sensitive. I’m kind of a Finn fangirl, I’m gonna talk about this a lot. Finn represents a character we’ve seen little of, someone who is Force-sensitive but does not have Jedi training. His growth from a scared deserter to a calm military leader was epic, and honestly, it feels somewhat unfinished. The potential that this character alone represents for future stories and Star Wars storytelling is immense.
The Galaxy is owning this battle for freedom for the first time. It’s no longer just a fight between Rebels vs Baddies, it’s everyone’s fight. I don’t even have to go into detail on this one, the potential speaks for itself.
Poe is a general. As we have learned the hard way from the Galactic Civil War and New Republic Aftermath, victory over an enemy doesn’t always mean life is easy. You have to have strong leaders in place to help with the messy rebuilding process. It would be neat to explore how someone rebuilds a galaxy and does it right.
Rey Skywalker. I’ve seen some complaints about this moment. One person who replied to my positive comment about this character choice said,
Right, because we can now just say a name and its ours.#sarcasm
Uh, yeah, buddy, that’s kind of how adoption works.
Part of the point of Rey’s entire character arc is that her family line and heritage should not define her, for good or bad. When she was an unknown she feared her own worthlessness. When she discovered she was a Palpatine, she feared her own power and importance.
Everyone kept telling her who and what she was and what that had to mean for her.
But Rey made a choice, and that choice was opposite of her blood, and in line with the people she had chosen to call her own: the Skywalkers and their Rebel family.
Rey taking the name Skywalker was her way of adopting herself into her chosen family, her chosen path, and her identity. It’s not like Luke and Leia were available to sign adoption papers, but an adoption it was.
This isn’t stupid, it’s beautiful. It was redemptive to the Skywalker line because their legacy will live on with this beautiful woman who took their name. The future of the Jedi will be directed by someone who has seen and tasted both the Dark and the Light, and she still chose the Light.
Rey carries herself with a humility and wisdom that is just what the doctor ordered. Her identity can not be blown away in the next sandstorm, she’s rooted in something bigger than herself.
The potential for what Rey could create, should anyone choose to continue her story, is something very fresh and inviting. She could create a whole new generation of Jedi who are far less trapped by useless tradition, and more involved with relationship and choice. She could help others who feel lost find a home and a family.
The Rise of Skywalker ended a saga that has stretched over 5 decades. It worked to try and bring a satisfying ending to many of those story lines, but also left us with a few tantalizing threads to discover in the future.
This happened over 80 years ago and it still feels like good news.
And it happened in the course of just a few weeks.
The year is 1943, and the German occupying government is planning to crack down hard upon the Jews. They will round up over 7,000+ Jews on the night of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). They will stamp out the Jews in Denmark as they have so many other countries in Europe.
It is a brilliant plan…a plan destined to fail.
Word reaches the Danish people, and an act of God takes place over the next several days.
It’s an incredible story, the central characters created to tell this story are Dr. Karl Koster and his wife Doris (Mia Farrow), teenage son Henrik, and daughter Else.
Through the eyes of Dr. Koster we understand the incredible efforts and coordination that took place among every member of the Danish population to save their Jewish friends and neighbors. People of all walks of life came together and provided hiding places, money, transportation, and information to protect the lives of Danish Jews.
Through the eyes of Henrik we experience the young Danish Resistance and their fearlessness in facing down the evil the Nazis presented.
Through the eyes of Doris we feel the fear and strength of a woman who has to walk the line of caring for her neighbors while carrying the weight of protecting her family as well.
Through the eyes of Else we understand what it must be to be a child growing up in a terrifying time.
It’s inspiring. It’s beautiful. It’s encouraging.
The same historical event is the setting for the classic book by Lois Lowry Number The Starswhere a young Danish girl and her family save their Jewish neighbors. I highly recommend the book as well.
So many countries failed to protect the Jews. We find stand-out heroes in every nation who stood up and said “No” when everyone else said nothing. But to see an entire country of people who not only worked together but were so completely successful is something else entirely. What might have happened if other nations had done the same thing?
Thousands upon thousands of people exist in the world today because those 7000+ Danish Jews were saved. They are a living testimony to the righteous courage of the Danes and their efforts to protect their fellow human beings. Not only were most of the Jews saved, but only 500 Jews were caught by the Nazis and taken to a ghetto. Out of those only 51 died.
When the Jews returned to Denmark after the war had ended the Jews found that their friends and neighbors had also protected their homes and businesses for them so they would have something to return to.
To quote a line from the history article I have included in the links, historian Leni Yahil said the Danish Jews were protected by
“a living wall raised by the Danish people in the course of one night.”
This is life as it should be. This is brotherhood. This is God’s heart. And it is something we can all learn from today, whatever our circumstances or difficulties are.
War is plague just as coronavirus is a plague. Hatred is a plague, and hatred and evil killed millions of people during WWII. It’s important to recognize the heroes and find stories where good men and women decided that doing nothing was not an option.
We are not fighting Nazis today. That word gets thrown around a lot in the media and by ignorant people who have no idea what Nazis actually were. This movie tells the true story of Nazis, and the people who opposed them. And it does it well.
To sum up, I’ll quote a beautiful speech from the movie that is delivered by Georg Duckwitz. He truly was an ally in this situation and shared information with Danish people that allowed them to outwit the Germans and save the Jews.
At the end of the movie when asked why he, a German, did what he did, Duckwitz replies with this beautiful speech that we can all learn from.
I came to this country (Denmark) as a young man, ambitious, a little homesick as young men are, and the Danes welcomed me. And some of them were Jews. It’s easy to persecute the nameless and the faceless, but these people are not faceless to me. I could have walked away…but…you know, a man must live with himself a long time. And if he can do something to ease a little of the terrible ache in this world…he must. I love Denmark. It’s my home now, and when your home is on fire you want to save it. That’s all it was. My home was on fire. Miracle At Midnight
In these days where we feel like the world is upside down and we do not know what to expect, we can learn so much from the beautiful Danish people and how they responded to their time of crisis.
*Parental warning, this movie contains shooting, at few on-screen deaths, implied suicides (a shadow of a hanging man’s legs is shown on the wall), and blood from injuries. Characters are shown being terrified and in danger. A young man and woman lie down in the woods (fully clothed) and pretend to be making out to distract German soldiers. Some characters are separated.
This movie can spur on so many lessons. If you are looking for a neat way to educate and engage your children, I highly recommend this movie. I will include a few links to get you started.
This movie is a gem about a story that I hope none of us ever forget.
In the fall of 2017, NBC put out a little show called “The Brave” starring Mike Vogel, Anne Heche, and a full cast of truly delightful people. The Brave follows a small military unit led by Adam Dalton (Vogel) that specializes in extractions, rescues, and yes, even the occasional assassination. They are overseen from D.C. by Patricia Campbell (Heche) and her brilliant staff.
The components I just listed are not that extraordinary in and of themselves. Many military dramas have had the same ingredients, and they never rose in rank above their peer shows. On paper, The Brave looks no different. So why is this show so great?
I believe what sets The Brave apart from other military shows is the heart.
The heart of this show IS the military men and women it seeks to represent. Our real life heroes are truly the stars of this show, even though the roles are portrayed by actors. Dean Georgaris (writer, creator), the cast, and the crew give every moment 110%, because their top priority is to honor and represent our real heroes. This heart of respect and passion shine through every moment, every line, every wounded look and new scar that is gained.
The Brave is character-centric, as a good story should be. Unlike many other action-heavy shows, The Brave does not rely on explosions, fancy gadgets, or trumped up inter-personal drama to bring viewers in. Does that mean its boring? Heck no! Each new episode brings a unique location, creative problem solving, and some straight up epic scenes that often do involve explosions. Not to mention humor that is natural and classy. These elements are all the better because they are not carrying the weight of the show, but rather highlighting the true pillar of this series, the characters.
The team is composed of imperfect, broken, beautiful people who have come together with a common purpose. They share a goal to protect freedom and innocent lives, even if it means giving their own. They laugh, they fight, and they cry together. No one is left behind. The Brave doesn’t use cheap and gratuitous sex, gore, or language for shock value like so many shows do. It showcases real people, who love each other, doing a very hard job. And it does it well.
The Brave addresses the male/female equality discussion brilliantly, it doesn’t talk about it. Talk is cheap, actions are not.
Deputy Director Patricia Campbell (Anne Heche) is a competent and strong leader. She evaluates, gives orders, and supports wherever, whenever she is needed. Her tactical and analyst teams, composed of men and women, trust and respect her without question. Hannah Archer (Sofia Pernas) and Noah Morganthau (Tate Ellington) have developed a brilliant rhythm where they play to each other’s strengths and use their different approaches to create a broader perspective.
Sergeant Jasmine “Jaz” Kahn (Natacha Karam) is the tactical team’s sniper, and one of the toughest women currently on TV. She’s had to work incredibly hard to be where she is, but she is valued and respected by the men she calls “my guys”. Even pretty boy medic, Sergeant Joseph J. “McG” McGuire (Noah Mills) carries himself with respect and compassion, which is not always the case for his character type.
The men of The Brave are fully men, the women are fully women. Together they are powerful. There is no “us” and “them”, no struggle for the spotlight. Each person, be they tactical, or analyst, know their strengths, and their weaknesses. They celebrate and lean on each other’s strengths, and support each other through their weaknesses, just as God intended.
This is the key to a good team, if only the rest of the world would quit spewing useless words and just start treating each other with the same value and respect.
The Brave represents the true heart of America. This is the show where a Muslim intelligence operative, Agent Amir Al-Raisani (Hadi Tabal), and a Christian family man, CPO Ezekiel “Preach” Carter (Demetrius Grosse) fight side by side as brothers and friends. They face evil as allies with a common cause.
That has been the heart of America, even through our biggest mistakes and worst moments, the goal of this country is freedom, life, and unity. We are made up of all colors, shapes, sizes, and religions. We come from different circumstances, we carry different baggage. But that isn’t something to fear, it’s something to celebrate and enjoy. The men and women of The Brave fight to protect these ideals, and to protect the brother or the sister beside them. The love these characters have for each other is so beautiful, so rich. It’s what America was meant to be, and it’s what I still believe in.
And now for my favorite part of The Brave.
Because I have watched this show, I feel like I better understand the hearts and minds of our service men and women.
I have not had the privilege of knowing many service men or women in my life, so my knowledge regarding their experience has been limited. Through watching The Brave and subsequently interacting on Twitter with service members, I have learned so much. In the most recent episode, Grounded, Dalton (Vogel) had a monologue describing something very personal, very emotional regarding his experiences in combat and how they have effected him. A gentleman on Twitter responded so powerfully.
@Mike_Vogel just told the story so many of us veterans have tried to get out into the world in that monologue in that final part of #thebrave
To which Mike Vogel replied….
It’s your story _________. We’re sorry the world is so slow to listen, but we thank you for answering the call and being part of it. We owe you guys everything.
Got chills yet? I know I do.
I believe the call of a storyteller is to tells stories that bring life, truth, and understanding. It is to delight an audience, to give them a good time, but to also instill in them a deeper understanding of something, or someone. It is to share an experience that the audience may have never had. It is to be a voice for someone who either can’t speak, or doesn’t know how. Or in this case, a voice for someone who has been yelling, but no one has heard.
It is to tell the people it represents, “I hear you, I see you, and you are NOT forgotten!” And to give the rest of the audience a chance to say, “We see you, and you are loved.”
Stories are meant to bridge experiences, to delight, to teach….to heal.
The Brave has accomplished all of this in a glorious, beautiful way. No, I am not just talking about the fact that this entire cast is almost too good-looking and charming for my TV screen to handle. Who needs explosives on hand when you have dynamite smiles to work with?
I have seen The Brave, and I have seen the people it is touching….
….and I see life.
Something this special is worth protecting. This show is worth renewing. Our team has more missions to go on and more stories to tell. NBC, we hope you are listening, ’cause you have a treasure right now, and we want more of it.