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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Blind Side

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Quinton Aaron and Sandra Bullock star in a scene from the movie "The Blind Side."
An inscription over the entry gate of the Memphis, Tenn., school where some of the early scenes of the inspirational family drama "The Blind Side" (Warner Bros.) are set reads: "With God all things are possible" (Mt 19:26). That Bible verse aptly characterizes the remarkable series of real-life events first recounted in Michael Lewis' 2006 best-seller The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, and here adapted for the screen.

The Christian academy in question is the meeting place of homeless, solitary and emotionally shell-shocked black teen Michael Oher (appealing newcomer Quinton Aaron) and two fellow students—white children of privilege Collins (Lily Collins) and S.J. (Jae Head) Tuohy— whose family is destined to transform his life and to be, in turn, transformed by him.

This seemingly unlikely scenario comes about thanks to the impulsive compassion of the Tuohy children's feisty mother, Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock). Spotting Michael wandering the streets on a winter night dressed only in shorts and a T-shirt, no-nonsense Leigh Anne— whose motivations throughout are shown to be explicitly religious—bundles him into the family car and, with the quiet support of admiring hubby Sean (Tim McGraw), offers him the living room couch for the night.

As this arrangement becomes more permanent—and Michael becomes an increasingly integral part of the Tuohy clan—socialite Leigh Anne, a successful interior decorator, discovers both the latent prejudices of the ladies with whom she lunches and the grim realities of life in Michael's home neighborhood, an area appropriately known as Hurt Village that, although just across town, has previously been terra incognita to her.

Michael's original admission to his otherwise all-white private school was based on a coach's (Ray McKinnon) perception of his football potential. (As Bullock's opening narration makes clear, Michael has the perfect build to play left tackle, a key position charged with defending a right-handed quarterback from being sacked from his blind side.).

But Michael's education has been so woefully neglected that his grades are far below the requisite average that would allow him to join the team. So his adoptive kin set to work, helping Michael to hone his on-field skills while also hiring determined tutor Miss Sue (Kathy Bates) to raise his academic standing.

Driven by Bullock's field-sweeping performance, writer-director John Lee Hancock's unapologetically Christian tale of human solidarity across racial and class divides—though restricted to adult and, perhaps, mature teen audiences by the elements listed below—is funny, shrewd and ultimately uplifting.

The film contains brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, at least one profanity, a few sexual and drug references, and a half-dozen crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
 Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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