Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Movie Review: The Human Experience

We are so very fortunate to be living in an age when small, independent movie producers can create life-affirming movies which win international acclaim. Movies like Bella, Noelle, The Ultimate Gift , Facing the Giants and Flywheel are amazing examples of this resurgence in well-constructed, meaningful films. These movies, about amazingly different characters and plot-lines, all carry the same theme: the sanctity and redeem-ability of human life.

Last night, we were fortunate to see a pre-screening of another such film. Produced by Grassroots Films of Brooklyn (NY), The Human Experience is a documentary about two brothers ... who carry the weight of their tough upbringing into the world, trying to understand why humans are here, is there meaning to life and how do we know? Now, this sounds a bit heavy-handed and melodramatic ... but the movie makes it.


The movie follows these two young men (one 18, one 25) on their journey -- from living with the homeless on the streets of New York City, to helping in a "lost children's home" in Peru, to the AIDs camp and leper colony of Ghana. Along the way, these brothers learn about the dignity of the human person:

  • from talking with and eating with the homeless at a Soup Kitchen,
  • getting help from another homeless man as they bed down for the night in cardboard boxes
  • watching a lame child go through his weekly treatments in a hospital in Lima; a treatment so painful the child cries in agony the whole session; a treatment only necessary because this child was abandoned by his parents because he wasn't "perfect"
  • meeting with AIDS victims and seeing their hope in God and love of their caretakers
  • greeting lepers, so crippled with the disease they've lost their sight, their toes, their body disfigured and yet they smile through it all and thank the boys for coming

This is one of those movies that brings home the idea of the dignity of man, the whole "made in the image and likeness of God" regardless of how damaged, broken or disturbed. Interviews are scattered throughout this movie -- interviews with psychologists, sociologists, theologians (including two of my favorites: Fr. Richard Neuhaus and Msgr Lorenzo Albacete), and activists and artists who help explain the phenomenon of the human person.

This is a movie that needs to be seen to be understood. This movie is still in "pre-screening" status as it's hard to get the big theaters to carry a movie of this depth. Try and see it if it's playing anywhere near you (click on the "screenings" link) ... or host a screening by emailing for further info. You'll be thrilled you did!

We took all our kids -- from 5-1/2 to 17 -- and we had amazing conversations in the van coming back. Discussions of what it means to be homeless, to be forgotten by society but not by God, to be loved regardless. What great talking points!


Mercy775 said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the film but it would be great for those who haven't seen it to keep the ending a secret. Not revealing the ending allows for an air of mystery and intrigue into the film. Thanks again for the support.

Mary G said...

I've edited the review to remove the ending ... sorry about that I just was so excited about the whole story and how well every thing ties together. A case of fact being as exciting as fiction!