So you know I have been finding Christian movies to rent for our family, and I have been putting ones that I come across into my Netflix que. Amish Grace made it in, though I didn't know much about it. After reading the description on the disc when it came, I decided to preview it without the kids. I am glad that I did. I definitely did not let my kids watch it. Before previewing it, I thought maybe we could watch it and have some great conversations afterward, but have since decided not to let the kids see it.
The movie, which came out last March, is about a 2006 real-life shooting in an Amish schoolhouse which took the lives of five young girls. It was a terribly sad movie and I pretty much cried through the entire thing. During the movie I wondered why people would make such a devastating movie, or watch it, and I just thought it was terrible for that reason. But when the credits rolled, I was glad that I had watched it and was very moved by the main theme of the movie, which was forgiving as Christ forgives.
I have since read reviews, and found a lot of negative reviews. Many said a movie should not have been made about such a tragic event. Perhaps, but that's what Hollywood does - this movie is definitely not unique in that. Many said that the moviemakers should not have mixed fact with fiction. The main character, a mother of one of the girls that was killed, is not a real person in the actual event. Throughout the movie she grapples with forgiveness and reviewers picked on that, saying that Amish faith is too strong for that. Really? Are the amish not human?
On the contrary, I think that the character's ambivalence in forgiving the man who murdered her daughter, even to the extent of wanting to leave her family and way of life, makes the movie extremely believable and relatable. It's what carried the message of faith and forgiveness through the movie from beginning to end. If forgiveness were portrayed as quick and easy, then what's the point? But being human, grappling with the torture of losing one's child and thinking about the person who came in and purposefully and viciously killed her, the main character wants to live her faith but struggles with it deeply in this most tragic time. As her husband says (and I am paraphrasing because I don't remember his words), faith that is lived when everything is fine and happy in life is not true faith.
I highly recommend this movie to adults, as it is extremely inspirational. I didn't even know about the real-life tragedy, so I am not looking at this movie through the opinion of how they handled a real-life tragedy. But as a fictionalized movie, it was extremely moving and inspirational and I learned more about truly following in Christ's footsteps. Again, highly recommended. I leave you with a quote from Tanya Lopez, senior vice president of original movies for Lifetime:
“We really felt this was a message we wanted to put out there,” she said. “Given the fact that so much goes on in this world that is incredibly tragic, how was this community able to do it? There are things we can learn from the Amish that will help in our daily lives.”