Friday, March 21, 2014

The Corrie Ten Boom Story

Animated / Biography / Drama
2013 / 34 minutes
Rating: 7/10

What's an appropriate age to expose our children to the truth about Nazis, concentration camps and dead numbered in the millions? Those are horrible truths, but ones that can't be avoided if we are to have the next generation remember the self-sacrificial love, the bravery, and faithfulness of the many millions who rose up to fight this evil.

The Corrie Ten Boom Story might be a good way to begin. The film's producers suggest that it is appropriate for children as young as 8, but I read one review from a mother who watched it with her three and half year old (she pointed out to her little boy that the Ten Booms were Christ-imitators, offering up their lives to save the Jews). I don't know if I would go quite that young – I haven't shown this to my four-year-old yet – but the filmmakers have done a remarkable job of presenting a muted, yet still accurate account of the horrors of World War II.

The Ten Boom family ran a watchmaking business in the Netherlands, and when the Germans invaded and started rounding up Jews, the Ten Booms began hiding Jews. It was a courageous yet simple decision for them – they knew this was what God wanted them to do. They helped many, but were eventually betrayed and sent to concentration camps. Here the same love for God that had them hiding Jews helped Corrie endure the loss of her father and sister – she trusted that God knew what was best. 

After the war she travelled extensively telling the story of God's faithfulness in all her trials. At one speech she met a former captor, a man who had viciously beat her. He was asking Corrie to forgive him. What would have been too much to ask of anyone, Corrie was able to do with God's enabling strength – she gave the man the forgiveness he was seeking.

Cautions

The only caution I can add (other than to be cautious about age-appropriateness) is that other episodes of this series often feature animations of Jesus, which may violate the Second Commandment, and one of these depictions is shown in a promotional clip that automatically plays just after the film ends 

Conclusion

Corrie Ten Boom will be a familiar name to many. Her biography, The Hiding Place, is quite famous, as is a 1975 film by the same name, and I believe there is also a play that many Christian schools have performed.

What sets this animated account apart is that it makes her story understandable and accessible to a much younger age group. I would highly recommend it for any school-age children, but it must be watched with adult supervision, so mom or dad can talk with any child who gets confused or worried.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Silver Fleet

Drama
1943 / 88 minutes
Black and White
RATING: 7/10

This is well-done, almost unknown World War II film told from the Dutch perspective.

As the occupation begins the Nazis ask Dutchman Jaap van Leyden whether he would like to continue on in his job as shipyard manager. They want him to complete work on two half-built submarines that were originally intended for the Dutch navy. When he decides to accept the position both his workers and his wife question his patriotism – why was he willing to be a collaborator? But while van Leyden may not have the courage to stand up to the Nazis, someone else does. The workmen have started receiving anonymous messages outlining a daring sabotage plan. The notes are all signed "Piet Hein," a historical Dutch hero from the 17th century, and stirred by the memory of Hein's great deeds done long ago, and their own strong love of country, the workmen are happy to help this mysterious figure.

Cautions

Silver Fleet doesn't fully explore why these men were willing to risk their lives. Their love of country is the expressed motivation, but for Christian viewers, who know that our country can do nothing for us after death, patriotism should strike us as a wholly insufficient reason to risk one's life.

But while God is not mentioned in the film, we know that it was their love of God that prompted our Dutch grandparents and great grandparents to take the risks that they did. So, with that in mind, Silver Fleet can be enjoyed as a secular tribute to the bravery of Dutch men who, whether the directors cared to acknowledge it or not, were willing to risk their lives for love of God and country... in that order.

Conclusion

The Nazis are at times more buffoonish than threatening, but overall the acting is quite good. The Silver Fleet is a solid World War film that I would recommend to any 1940s film enthusiast, as well as anyone who wants to learn more about the War from the Dutch perspective.