Saturday, October 3, 2009

This Movie Makes Me Cry Every Time

Ask anyone in my family, and they will tell you that I didn’t grow up to be overly emotional about anything. School plays, separation from family and friends, driving off to go to college – none of these things invoked a great deal of sentiment from me – I think I’m just wired that way.

But in the last few years, I find myself increasingly more sensitive about certain things. A Christian song track or a worship song that I have listened to dozens of times suddenly takes on new meaning and I find myself with tears streaming down my face as I listen in the car (Caedmon’s Call “Mother India” now has this effect). But the primary place where I find myself getting emotional is when I watch a movie with a heart-rending twist in it. The first ten minutes of Disney’s Up! or the last five minutes of Finding Nemo get me bleary-eyed. And, of course, I cried through a great deal of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which I’ve only been able to watch once.

The number-one movie clip – the one which makes me cry every single time - is the very end of Saving Private Ryan. In the modern-day scene in France, where Ryan visits Captain Miller’s grave at the cemetery above the beaches of Normandy, and where he talks to Miller about the sacrifice he made, Ryan turns to his wife and says, “Tell me I have led a good life. Tell me I’m a good man.” I break down every time I watch the scene. I can’t help it. I’ve included the clip at the end of this post.

That scene inspired my wife and me to visit France in 2003 and to drive to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, where we walked the grounds for hours. For me, it was a life-changing experience. While I strolled through the impeccably maintained property, I marveled at the sacrifice made by the 9,387 American military buried there. In an unusual arrangement, they are buried facing to the west (instead of the traditional east-facing method) – all facing toward the United States.

As I’ve said, I cannot watch this movie scene without crying – it happens to me every time. This week, as I watched it again and was working on this piece, I was struck by the tremendous emotion that wells up when Ryan bends down and says these words:

“Every day, I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I’ve tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.”
And then I was struck by the imagery that was before me in the video clip. When Ryan is saying these words, he is speaking…to a cross (see 3:30 on the attached clip). It’s as if God intended for some of us to understand that we should think on Jesus’ sacrifice every single day. Was this one of those hidden moments that God uses in a Hollywood movie to get out his message? There have been many times where I have wondered if the moviemaker had any idea of the message they were sending. I think not – sometimes I see glimpses about how things serve God in ways that were not intended. God is more than brilliant.

Shouldn’t we feel the same way as Ryan about what Jesus has done for us? Was his sacrifice any less moving? We watch this movie, and maybe for some of us, a part of our inner being says, “I wish that I were Ryan…that I had such a story to tell.” Ah, people, we do! While we are not called on to “earn” our deliverance, we should view Christ’s sacrifice in the same fashion as Ryan did with Captain Miller. We were certainly lost and doomed. Jesus Christ came to save us, and he did – after much sacrifice. The story of Ryan and Miller has happened to each one of us. Join with me on your knees to cry and be grateful for such a sacrifice. Think about it every day.

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If anyone reading this has observed other movie scenes where a Christian message was unwittingly given, likely without the movie director even realizing it, please send it in a comment to me. I’d like to save these up to write about in future posts (I’ll give you credit for submitting it!).