Movies That Have Changed Me

Schindler's List

The Dramas

I started this series with Comedies, at least in part because I’d discovered at any early age that getting laughs at the cost of time-outs under the teacher’s desk was worth it (yes, some of my grade school teachers actually did that).

But even earlier, I’d discovered the power of drama. Movies inspired me during my make-believe times (i.e. most of the time), to courageously sacrifice myself to save a pretty girl, and then die in her arms. Or to contort my face and body in the bathroom mirror into that of a tragically misunderstood outcast (The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a favorite), often becoming so choked-up I couldn’t go on.

The power of imagination doesn’t lie in originality (kid’s steal wholesale from movies, books, and television), but in the ability to believe in the things you imagine. Oh, how I believed. And still do. The stories playing in my head are every bit as real as the ones playing in the world around me. Which makes me one of two things, I suppose: Crazy. Or a writer. Is there a difference?

Movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn once grumbled, “If ya wanna send a message, use Western Union,” nevertheless, it’s the message movies that leave the profoundest impression on me. From the heart-on-his-sleeve classics of Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington); to the cautionary tales of Billy Wilder (Lost Weekend, Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard) and Orson Welles (Citizen Kane); to intimate stories of rediscovered hope like David and Lisa, A Beautiful Mind, and Manchester by the Sea; to living-for-something-bigger-than-yourself stories like Casablanca, On the Waterfront, Braveheart, and The Verdict.

It’s the latter, especially–redemption stories–that have most deeply influenced my work as a storyteller. And I can’t think of any film that has touched that God-implanted inclination more deeply than the film Schindler’s List (currently celebrating its 25th anniversary). As Ben Kingsley’s character says near the end of the film, “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” I still can’t watch the final scene (below), or hear John Williams’ heartbreaking theme, without shedding tears. It’s not simple sentiment (for that see the Hallmark Channel). It’s the essence of life.

And that’s why I chose a redemption drama, Over-the-Rhine, to be my first feature film as a writer-director. Oh, I still make comedies (my current feature is an all-out spoof), but even they have echoes of redemption in them. Redeemed romances make me smile (When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail). Redeemed families make me wipe my eyes (Toy Story, Parenthood).

But redeemed lives touch my soul.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Movies, Popular Culture & Entertainment, Videos, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Movies That Have Changed Me

  1. 💜 “redeemed lives touch my soul” love!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Now I want to watch that movie again. I suspect that we’ll all reach the end of our lives wishing we had done more. And yet God is the only One who really does any of it. So grateful for His grace.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. smzang says:

    MItch said,” Redeemed romances make me smile …Redeemed families make me wipe my eyes…
    But redeemed lives touch my soul.”

    way beautiful

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I was a teenager in the 1950s when “The Robe”, “Greatest Story Ever Told”, “The Chalice”, etc. were so popular. Even “Androcles and the Lion” (a spoof about early martyrs) touched me. I think they played a major part in molding me for the rest of my life. I was spellbound by them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. John S says:

    “But redeemed lives touch my soul”,  Hi Mitch your last line did get my attention.  Over the last 13 years of being a Jail Chaplain I have and the joy of hearing and seeing many “Redeemed stories”. They  have not only touched my soul but thanks to them my “soul” has even grown closer to the CREATOR of my soul. John

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Movies I carry in my soul:

    1. The Princess Bride (I had a Wesley once)
    2. Empire of the Sun (very moved by it)
    3. The Big Chill (loved it)
    4. St. Elmo’s Fire (lived it)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ann Coleman says:

    I know what you mean about “message” movies. I tend not to like them if the message is very specific…something political, say, or even a social commentary, because I don’t especially like being told what to believe. But I think redemption movies are different, in that they are universal They aren’t telling us how we should vote or feel about a particular issue, they are simply reminding us that, no matter how lost we become, we can always be redeemed. And that’s a message worth spreading.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Jashan Kaur says:

    Schindler’s List is one of the eternal masterpiece.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That scene brings me to tears, as well. Every time.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. kokearin says:

    nice job you doing

    Liked by 1 person

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