Bella Breaks Through To The Heart

Al Siebring of NoApologies.ca wrote a review of Bella a couple of days ago.  You can read it here.  While he gives the movie its due praise, he has some legitimate concerns.  I’d like to take a few moments and respond.  He writes: 

“But having said all that, I’m still stymied by my initial question. I’m still not sure what it was about the film that would change anyone’s mind about whether to abort or keep a baby. Because the most striking thing about this film, for me at least, was what it left unsaid.

There’s no intellectual or polemic case against abortion. In fact, unless I missed it, the word “abortion” is spoken fewer than half a dozen times in the entire 95 minutes. And the word “adoption” is heard even less frequently.

The movie is more about ethereal emotionalism than about laying out any cold, hard case against the abortion holocaust that has ravaged North American demographics in the past 30 years.”

But here’s the thing:  the movie was not about giving a polemic against abortion.  If you want that, there are plenty of places to get it: on the Internet or talk radio, in a book or a newspaper, at a rally or a sidewalk picket, or even if you are passing by one of the abortion trucks.  And there is always a university debate one can attend.  These are all areas where the pro-life position has always been expressed and will continue to be expressed, provided, of course, a short leash is kept on the student unions at Canada’s notorious illiberal and intolerant universities.

The beauty of Bella was that it did not address the conventional issues but rather the more deep-seated ones that often go unspoken: the breakdown in the family which led to the abortion; the financial and emotional pressure a woman goes through when she is left abandoned by her partner; and even the whole purpose of sex in the first place.  These are issues that are frequently pushed to the side over the debate on abortion.  And that is really a tragedy because it’s these latter issues – the so-called emotional and circumstantial ones – that determine how someone approaches the question itself. I know it’s not logical. But that’s the way it is.  John Paul II was criticized by more traditional Catholics for not applying the rubrics of the past in understanding the problems of today. He was a phenomologist because he knew the old schemas or modes of thinking in addressing the modern world were not going to work by themselves.   There always has to be room for debate and logic on this question and, indeed, on any question. At the end of the day, you have to hang your hat on something substantial, after all.  But this war is fought on many fronts.  We are not creatures of logic only, but of passion and empathy. If we believe that we can win it simply by focusing on one or two of these fronts, while ignoring the others, we’re going to lose because we will have left ourselves exposed with a gaping hole. Indeed, for the past 40 years, the pro-aborts have been able to drive the Mack truck right through that hole.  What this movie does is it begins to close that hole. It is a work of art.  And works of art are rarely polemical or argumentative by nature.  They appeal to our compassion, to our empathy, and to a higher calling.  After all, our salvation did not come through Jesus’ logical exposition of His holy Gospel, but by His humble submission in laying out his hand on the cross and allowing the soldier to pierce it with a nail.   People’s hearts change because of sacrifice not cheeky soundbites, however intelligent they might be.

And while I intend no disrespect to the movie, its producers, or ardent supporters like Mr. Pacheco, I’m left with a nagging question. Because if this movie did indeed change some women’s minds about whether to have an abortion, that’s great. But it must be said that anyone who decides to keep a baby only because of this movie is basing that decision on emotion rather than any deliberate thought process. And I fear that doesn’t bode well for the long-term future of a rational, ethical, moral, or normative representation of the pro-life cause.

Actually, it does bode well. Because it means that we finally “got it”.  What Bella has done and what we seem to have missed all these years is to recognize the importance in taking back the cultural mythology of the age.  When you can define or rather redefine who the culture considers to be the heroes and heroines of the age, you’ve basically won the battle and the social attitudes to any moral question will slowly but surely begin to change.  When a culture begins to identify with a man who sacrifices his life for a greater good – like saving an unborn child from certain death – that’s the beginning of the end for the culture of death.  If Eduardo, the leading man of this movie, strikes a chord with men’s inclination toward sacrifice and is seen as some kind of hero in the eyes of the women, abortion will die within the generation….and there won’t be any need for any further debates.

Special Note:  I heard from a third hand source that Bella will remain for at least this upcoming weekend in Ottawa. If you have not seen it yet, please go and see it.  Even if you have seen it, go again!  If we want to see high quality, decent movies, then we need to let the distribution chains and even Hollywood know that we’re prepared to shell out for it.

Empire World Exchange Centre 7, Ottawa

Thu: 3:45, 7:30, 9:45
Fri: 4:00, 7:30, 9:50
Sat, Sun: 1:00, 4:00, 7:30, 9:50
Mon, Tue, Wed: 4:00, 7:30, 9:50

Bella The Movie Website

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