In an industry all too often consumed with violence, offensive language and sex, it’s nice to come across a movie with redeeming value.
So when my R.A. invited my floor to the matinee viewing of “October Baby” last Saturday, I was thrilled. Little did I know what I was getting into. Two hours later, I left changed and relieved a Christian movie could leave viewers with a positive perception of the church.
Before entering the theater, I understood the basic premise: Hannah Lawson (played by Rachel Hendrix), a teenage abortion survivor learns about her past and, to the dismay of her adopted family, goes on a journey to find her birth mother. Along the way, she discovers the freedom of forgiveness and proves that every life has meaning.
Like almost every other Christian movie, “October Baby” succumbs to what I like to call “the awkward scenes” – an attempt to create a more relevant plot with unrealistic moments, over exaggerated character actors and a Hollywood love story gone wrong. Yes, there were a few instances when I couldn’t bear to look at the screen and wish it would just end.
Yet, what the movie lacks in originality, it makes up for in the message. Although the movie’s plot surrounds the controversial pro life/pro choice debate, I was pleasantly surprised how the movie’s emphasis focused not on the issue, but on forgiveness.
John and Andrew Erwin, brothers and executive producers of the film, tried to create a film authentic and sensitive to the real-life situations surrounding abortion and free from the bigotry commonly seen in “Christians.”
“From the post-abortive mother, it was very important to be sensitive to that and for this to be a healing movie for them,” expressed Andrew Erwin.
Above all, the most valuable part of the movie was not in the movie itself, but within the credits. While the credits rolled, Shari Rigby, who plays Hannah’s birthmother (Cindy Hastings) in the film shared her story. Twenty years ago, while in a relationship, Rigby discovered she was pregnant and decided to have an abortion.
“It was easier to get rid of the child - to not be questioned again; rather than to have a child and be looked upon, at the time, like another failure,” Rigby admitted about her own experience. “And so many times, I think especially as young women we carry that burden that we’re going to look like a failure - that it’s shameful.”
In her testimony, she exposes what the pro-life/pro-choice debate lacks: the pain of women at the center of the issue. In fact, Rigby’s story is the story of the majority. Recent statistics show that 65 percent of abortions in America are by women identifying themselves as Christian, which means that the same women who vote pro-life chose abortions as a last resort to “save face” within the Christian community. The problem no longer lies in the secular world – the problem is us.
Even in that harsh truth, Rigby’s story is proof that God still offers forgiveness and restoration for our mistakes.
In her scene, where as the birth mother, she meets the forgiveness of God, Rigby felt complete healing from her own past. In that moment, she collapsed to the floor and wept.
“That wasn’t acting,” Rigby said. “That was my moment with God and with me to say, ‘It’s OK. It’s over. You’ve been forgiven.’”
That is the essence of this movie. No matter your past, God is ready to meet you in your moment and gently restore you. He stands with open arms and affirms you are still of value: “The past is over. You have been forgiven.”