The Mortal Storm

Monday, November 26, 2012
I'm a day late with this post, but, as you can imagine, it was a busy week. Thanksgiving was at my house and I'm working on revising my novel one more time based on copyedits I received last week. I'll write more about that in the future.

I love old movies, especially black and white movies. Before 3D and IMax and CGI and an unlimited budget for special effects, movies were about the story. It doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to blow things up. It does, however, take something special to tell a good story.

The best thing to ever happen to television was Turner Classic Movies (TCM). When in doubt, I check out what's playing on TCM. (If it's not baseball season. If there's a Red Sox game, I'm probably not going to be watching a movie. But it's November and there are still a few weeks until pitchers and catchers.) This happened yesterday. Coming up was a movie named "The Mortal Storm." I almost went on to reruns of Pawn Stars or Storage Wars because it was a story based on Hitler's Germany. I avoid movies about Hitler and World War II and the Holocaust. The topic is just not my cup of tea. Well, except for Casablanca.

Then I saw that it starred James Stewart and Robert Young. I love Jimmy Stewart, especially this time of year. It's a Wonderful Life should be popping up on television any day now. Of course I knew Robert Young from Father Knows Best, but I haven't seen him in too many full-length feature films. It also starred Margaret Sullavan, probably best known for The Shop Around the Corner, also with James Stewart. So I decided to give it a chance.

What a wonderful movie!

This is an example of how a story can make a political point and still be a good story. The Mortal Storm was made to encourage the United States to get into the war. There were those in Hollywood who believed we should take a stand and used their art to show what life was like under the Third Reich. While most of the people were entranced by Hitler, the James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan characters were appalled by what was going on. Eventually they try to make their escape.

One of the things that impressed me was the frequency with which God was mentioned. In fact, a lot of the conflict in the movie was between those who believed in God and those in the not-God camp. It made me think about how society has changed. In 1940, the belief that those who believe in God are the good guys and those who don't are the bad guys was common. Today, belief in God is supposed to have nothing to do with good and evil. In fact, if you profess a belief in God, you're considered naive, uninformed, and, sometimes, the bad guy. We've become so enamored of freedom that we don't consider it a good thing to give up some of that freedom to a higher power.

Now, I believe in freedom of religion. I don't think we should force anyone to belong to a certain church or mosque. But I'm tired of feeling like I should be ashamed to be a Christian. It's not a bad thing. And, in 1940, people knew that.

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