My recent movie watching has included almost way too many World War I movies. This was not done deliberately. I have always loved Gary Cooper and Sergeant York. Because Paul Gross “does it for me,” his movie Passchendaele was a great watch.
For many years I’ve been aware of the story of the Christmas Eve in the trenches when the Germans began singing Stille Nacht. I think it was the English and Scots who began singing with them in English. The enemy troops spent Christmas Day together sharing food and pictures and stories as best they could in their different languages. The movie Joyeux Noel was about this incident. Doing pulpit fill at Christmas time, I used this story and had my husband sing Stille Nacht in the dark from the back of the church. Then the congregation sang Silent Night as their closing hymn. I think that it touched them as deeply as it did me.
Recently War Horse was released. It started as a book, then it was a stage play, and now is a wonderful movie. In reading about this movie I discovered that over 1,000,000 horses went to that war from England alone (that is not counting French and German horses.) 65,000 came home. That is about .065% And no one asked them if they wanted to participate. This movie showed us the horses’ side of the war. I thank God these beautiful animals are no longer used in this fashion.
Now we’re on to Wings. (If you don’t know, this is the first movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.) Gary Cooper was also in this movie.
For some strange reason I began reading Rudyard Kipling stories. His poem If has always been one of my favorites. In reading some biographical information, I discovered that Kipling’s son Jack had died in this war. His story was in the play My Boy Jack. And then a movie of the same name. David Haig wrote the play and was in both the play and the movie as Kipling. Daniel Radcliffe was Jack in the movie. The play ends, with Kipling reciting the poem My Boy Jack, He has just listened to a BBC broadcast talking about Hitler’s rise in Germany and imminent war, his words are, “For Nothing. For Nothing. For Nothing.”
All of these films are statements against this horrible way to solve problems between peoples.
So why am I blogging about this? Three reasons. First of all next month I have tickets to see the play War Horse. The ticket was a very special gift from my sister-in-law. (Thanks Carolyn) When my friend who does puppets heard we were going she begged us to find a ticket for her. She is going to be sitting in the row directly behind us. The horse puppets in the play War Horse are amazing. If nothing else it points to the ingeniousness of man, to be able to build something so real. I am really looking forward to next month.
Secondly, our local theater will be producing My Boy Jack next season. I hope to be walking well enough to read for Mrs. Kipling. I believe it is a play worth doing because it is a slice of life that speaks to both the futility of war and its repercussions. Everyone believed that war would be the War to End All Wars. Now we just call it WWI. And there have been four major conflicts since. The repercussions of all wars are not that just good men die. But that each man who dies represents a family who must deal with that loss. Kipling himself understood that he was like so many other families. Mrs. Kipling just wanted her son back.
The third thing I want to talk about is a little more difficult but does have to do with Promises and Passover Promises. The Romans are a presence in Jerusalem. The group most opposed to the Roman occupation was the Zealots. They, and many of the leadership in Jerusalem, believed that the Messiah would be a king after David. He would come with a sword on a white horse. But instead of a conquering hero, Jesus called men’s hearts back to God. All the wars in all the world mean nothing if our hearts are not right with God.