Invalid Input

Invalid Input

Search the Remnant Newspaper
Sunday, December 10, 2023

Good Movies for a Joyful Christmas

Rate this item
(6 votes)
Good Movies for a Joyful Christmas

The General (1926)

This silent movie is an absolute hidden gem. Probably Buster Keaton’s best film, The General is an action film with cleverly mixed doses of romance and comedy. Set during the American Civil War, the film centers on a train engineer named John Gray (interpreted by Buster Keaton) who tries to enlist in the Confederate Army but is turned down because the military thinks he would be more valuable to the war effort if he keeps his current job as a mechanic. Both his family and his fiancée misunderstand and consider him a coward, refusing to talk to him until he is in uniform. However, the hero will have the chance to prove his bravery and courage when his engine is stolen by some Northern spies, with his fiancée accidentally kidnapped along with the stolen locomotive (which is called “The General”). John Gray will start chasing, first on foot, then with a trolley, and finally with another engine, to free his fiancée – and “The General” (his locomotive).

He finally rehabilitates himself in the eyes of his fiancée and goes from a buffoon despised for his alleged cowardice to a real hero. In an unexpected and truly surprising way, he succeeds in embodying the two classic qualities that a Christian husband must have: the ability to take care of his family and protect his loved ones when needed.the general 1200 1200 675 675 crop 000000

Buster Keaton is at his best, showcasing in this film his multiple talents: as an actor, acrobat, stuntman and director. I am absolutely certain that this old, silent movie will give you more laughs than most modern comedies, with plenty of substance on top of that.

Wives and Daughters (1999)

The four-episode BBC series that adapted Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel starts with Molly Gibson, a ten-year-old girl, during a visit to the local aristocrats. She gets lost, but Miss Clare comforts her, allowing her to sleep in her bed. Her widowed father comes after her, and the action continues seven years later. Is this introduction enough to make you curious? I hope so!

Although at first glance, it seems like just a movie about a romantic love story, this BBC classic is much more than that. First, it is rare to see movies where the hierarchy and responsibilities in the family are so well presented. Second, the performances of all the actors – among whom shine Justine Waddell, Sir Michael John Gambon, Bill Paterson, and Rosamund Mary Ellen Pike – are astonishing.wives and daughters

But what is important is the emphasis put on what spiritual masters like Venerable Louis of Granada used to name “a virtuous life.” I assure you: the main characters, such as Molly Gibson, her loving father, Mr. Gibson, and the aristocratic Lady Harriet Cumnor, are a living, cinematographic illustration of the value and power of Christian virtues like Hope and Charity.

The Magnificent Seven (1960)

A remake of Kurosawa’s classic, Seven Samurai (1954), The Magnificent Seven is one of the all-time great westerns. The story is simple: some poor farmers in Mexico hire seven gunslingers from the other side of the Rio Grande to protect them from a small army of bandits that robs their village every year. The seven heroes pledge to defend the village for money – but it becomes clear early on that there are other reasons behind their commitment: some of the gunslingers are fighting their own inner demons, while others become attached to the peasants they defend. Everyone is actually attracted by the idea of fighting an impossible war, and what unites them, beyond their individual flaws, is the feeling of fellowship.TheMagnificentSeven

Beyond the engaging action and shootouts, this is actually a character-driven film. The lineup of heroes includes Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn, while Eli Wallach shines as the Mexican bandit chief. The dialogue, the music, and the outstanding cast and direction all come together in a memorable classic Western film. Even if in a manner veiled by the fighting style of the Wild West, the characters in this film manage to make visible those virtues necessary for achieving military excellence: courage, determination, and the capacity to make optimal decisions in extreme situations.

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1980)

Inspired by the famous novel of Francisca Hodgson Burnett of the same name (published in 1886), the adaptation of Little Lord Fauntleroy wants to show us that even a stony heart can melt at the smile of a child.

A fatherless little boy, Cedric, inherits the title Lord Fauntleroy and is invited by his grandfather, Earl of Dorincourt, to live at his castle. The generosity and intelligence of the boy is remarked by the old millionaire. As the two spend more time together, the Earl turns from a harsh ruler to a gentle grandfather and begins to see the world from another perspective.little lord fauntleroy f

Even if the inheritance is at risk due to another grandson that seems to be the valid heir, everything ends well for the child, his widowed mother and the grandfather who will now live together at the Earl’s estate.

If we were to capture in one sentence the simple and profound message of this film, instead of using our own words we would prefer to quote a verse from the Gospel of Matthew:

“Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 18:3).”

The Reluctant Saint (1962)

Born like our King and Savior Jesus Christ in a stable, Joseph of Cupertino (1603 – 1663) is one of the most famous Catholic saints ever known. The supernatural gifts that God has endowed him with are the clear fulfillment and proof of one of the most paradoxical sayings of the Gospel:

“But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27).

reluctant saint02

Although he learned the theology with great difficulty despite his saintly zeal, Joseph acquired an extraordinary understanding of both earthly and heavenly things through God’s direct gifts. Treated by his good and disappointed mother with distrust, he secretly rejoices in the most extraordinary mystical gifts. And not only does his mother treat him with reserve, but even the brothers in the Franciscan order see him as a simpleton, and later as a dangerous charlatan (it reminds us of Padre Pio, doesn’t it?). In any case, the film depicts with a good dose of humor the life of this extraordinary saint for whom levitation – and other mystical gifts – was as common as breathing.

A Christmas Carol (1999)

In my opinion, this is the best screen adaptation ever realized of the famous novel written by Charles Dickens. Even though this is probably not that rare kind of movie that is better than the book it adapts, it is – at least – as good as the novella itself. Not only is the performance of Patrick Stewart as the odiously ungenerous Ebenezer Scrooge convincing, but his redemption is interpreted by him with truly contagious enthusiasm.

If I were to summarize the essence of this film in a sentence, I think the best would be the following: the joy of doing good. So, not just being a Christian who does good because the Gospel requires it, but one who performs good deeds with the most grateful joy. Can there be a better depiction of generosity? Of love? If you watch this movie, you will certainly be able to confirm it.

Latest from RTV — FRANCIS KNOWS BEST: How Blessing Gay Unions is Already a Done Deal

[Comment Guidelines - Click to view]
Last modified on Sunday, December 10, 2023
Robert Lazu Kmita | Remnant Columnist, Romania

A Catholic father of seven and a grandfather of two, Robert Lazu Kmita is a writer with a PhD in Philosophy. His first novel, The Island without Seasons, was published by Os Justi Press in 2023.