Writing about “Star Wars” (which I really enjoyed although I never saw another one) reminded me of all of the films that touched me, educated me, changed me, inspired me, scared me, and made me feel good about the human spirit and its triumph over the evil of governments, the evil of disfigurement, the evil of early death, and that took me back to my childhood when things I thought were all lovely turned out not to be so. The following list are all films that are true or based almost entirely on true events. Stories of perseverance, forgiveness, love for strangers and the strange things that we do because of it. Some were about how we treated those who were different from us and all too often I was embarrassed to find myself on the wrong side. Some are about movements, some about individuals, and many about the relationships between two people (I liked those the best). Since they have been been making movies, they have made over 400 based on true stories. Not all were in the categories I have named above like “Bonnie and Clyde” and “In Cold Blood” which glamorized violence. However, I looked over the entire list (over 200 have been made in just the last fifteen years) and came up with a list for you (almost all of them are on the list of the 100 greatest films from AFI). Some will make you mad and justly so, some (many) will make you cry, but all will make you understand the world you live in a little better and will maybe inspire you to be a better person. I’m offering you a New Year’s resolution here, to see as many of these as you can. They are listed by the year they were made but that has nothing to do with how good they are, or when you should see them. I understand there is a thing called a Netflix Cue to which you may want to add these. I cannot recommend these more highly as some are about distant history, some about recent history, and some about things that have happened in your life time. There is a strong Christian message in each one of them although you may have to work to see it because like all good films, they don’t hit you over the head with it. I have seen every single one of these, own several, and have seen several more than once. Seeing these will allow you into the conversation of literate and educated people, not to mention that you will also be educated and entertained in the process. I can’t give you much in the way of material things as much as I love you, but I can give you these. Please check to see the ratings before you watch them with children—I’ve long since forgotten or cared whether or not nudity was involved (my favorite hymn now is “Precious Memories). Here’s the list:
The Miracle Worker (1962), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Brian's Song (1971), The Elephant Man (1980) , Gandhi (1982), Glory (1989), My Left Foot (1989), Schindler's List (1993), Apollo 13 (1995), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), Amistad (1997), The Pianist (2002), Seabiscuit (2003), Hotel Rwanda (2004), Cinderella Man (2005), The Last King of Scotland (2006), Invictus (2009), The King's Speech (2010), The Help (2011), 12 Years a Slave (2013). Many of these have big stars and won academy awards for the actors and more than one brought home “Best Picture” honors. If you’ve seen more than half of them, you get to be in the “Bishop’s Club” of erudite and intellectual friends. If you’ve seen all of the them—WOW! Pick some and watch them again. Have a great 2016 knowing it will be better if you have seen these by the end of the year. There is in me something that just won’t stop teaching and preaching, at least this way, you can have popcorn during the long boring part as one of my son's once described my sermons.