This blog post is for week four in the #Usguys #Usblogs weekly blog topics. This week the one we chose is: What we learn from the movies.
Everything I know about life I’ve learned at the movies. Well not quite, but they have made an extraordinary impact on me. I remember seeing “The Brothers Grimm” on the biggest screen in Minneapolis, the Panorama at the Cooper Theater in the early 60’s. Fairy tales came to life! My little cousins, my sister and I were awe-struck. My husband and I, who a year apart in age, remember seeing “How the West Was Won” and later “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World at the same theater.” We didn’t meet until we were in our twenties, but our childhood memories of movies are very similar!
His is favorite movie is “The Godfather”. My favorite is the 1981 Academy Award Winning Best Picture: “Chariots of Fire.” It is the true story of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell training to run and running in the 1924 Olympic games. I’m not usually big on true stories. I’m a hopeless romantic who grew up watching romantic comedies and musicals of eras gone by, the 30’s and 40’s. But I was moved to the depths by this movies and it changed my life a bit. Certainly it changed my heart.
When “Chariots of Fire” came out I had written a screenplay, begun in a college class and finished by sheer determination. I had written a true story of my battle with bipolar disorder and peddled it in Hollywood to the likes of Melissa Gilbert, a good friend of my then sister-in-law. My brother is an actor. I was turned down everywhere I went. I had first written the story as a fictionalized account and then my true story. No one was buying either. No one could believe the true version: that my husband left me while I was hospitalized for bipolar disorder and my son died before I was released. It was too sad with not enough relief for the audience. I came through it. God carried me through. I was very relieved, why not the audience?! 🙂
After having my screenplay rejected so many times, I was a bit hardened to the entertainment industry and to the type of stuff they were making. I thought there was no way they would ever pick a story of triumphing over the odds due to a strong will and love for God — the outcome of “Chariots of Fire.” It was a movie of conviction. Eric Liddell’s 100 meter Olympic Race was scheduled for Sunday and he felt it against his beliefs to run on the Sabbath, so he declined to run even at the urgings of the Queen. As it happens he ran a race he hadn’t trained for the 400 meter and won the gold. His teammate, Harold Abrahams took the gold in the 100 meters and the British team went home triumphant! It was so beautifully crafted. It also won best screenplay, best music, and best costumes. I loved every minute of it, but will never forget one line by the Missionary Runner Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) who said, “God made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Immediately my self pity and discouragement over my writing left me. I thought to myself, “When I write, I feel His pleasure!” I think we all have that feeling when we are really clicking and doing something we were born to do. Those may not be your words to describe the feeling, but let me suggest, you could be feeling the pleasure of the One who gave you the talent you are using!
“Hide not your talents, they for use were made, What’s a sundial in the shade?” — Benjamin Franklin