HBO Series: ROME
OK, right off the bat I have to say two things. One, this is not the sort of thing I normally watch (not by a loooooong shot) and two, this series is raw. I am not kidding -- it is explicit and quite graphic at times. It's not your normal "sit on the couch with a bowl of popcorn" type of movie series. (I watched it right after Grace was born, and my husband and in-laws had taken the kids away from the house for the day so I could recouperate. I had NO idea what sort of movie I was in for...)
Trust me. It's rather shocking and repulsive at times.
So why on earth am I even talking about it?
I am talking about it because it has given me a much greater appreciation and understanding of the world (more or less) during the time of Jesus' ministry. All of us, I am sure, have seen the Hollywood-ized productions that have funky people in togas cheering in the ampitheater as the Christians are fed to the lions, or the standard "actors in Roman soldier garb" who stand around in the background during the Crucifixion scenes of various religious films. Watching (and being horrified by) this film has brought home in a new way that these people... this culture... was in charge during Jesus' time on earth. This was the culture that produced Pontius Pilate, the soldiers that crucified Jesus... this was the culture that Sts. Peter and Paul confronted and preached to... this was the city that St. Ignatius was headed to (in all his epistles to the various churches which, as you may recall, is part of my Lenten reading plan) It has brought all of this to light in a shocking new way. To see the moral decadence of this society, and to think of the amazing bravery of the Apostles and the early Church to confront (by God's grace) this head on is just amazing to me.
I won't recommend it (due to its extremely graphic nature), but I am glad to have seen it.
TO BE AND TO HAVE (ETRE ET AVOIR)
This is much more my speed. It is a documentary of a teacher who teaches in a traditional "one room schoolhouse" in rural France. There is no "gripping plot"--it simply shows a typical school year of this teacher as he teaches a handful of students (from preschool to middle school-age) in a simple, direct manner. His actions and demeanor produce respect in his students, and yet he is never shown yelling, or slamming his students in any way. He is quiet, direct, and most definitely an impressive authority figure. I was inspired by his quiet style, and the reminder that oftentimes the simpler ways are best. For homeschooling moms who would like a little boost as they teach their own version of a one-room schoolhouse... or those who want to brush up on their French... or those who just love the look of the simple Provencal style... this movie is for you.