Thursday 2 February 2006

Molokai: The Story of Father Damien


This biography of Father Damien, the Catholic priest who in 1873 volunteered for service on the Hawaiian leper colony of Molokai. For 15 years Damien ministered nearly single-handedly to the quarantined community, supplying what medication he could procure while struggling against the red tape from organizations (religious and governmental) that would rather have forgotten all about the thousands of people dying in primitive conditions. He won some battles and lost others, finally succumbing to the disease himself in 1888.

The films earnestness led to the who's-who supporting cast (Sam Neill, Derek Jacobi, Peter O'Toole, Leo McKern, Kate Ceberano and Kris Kristofferson), but it is David Wenham who must carry the film as Damien, which he does spectacularly and with a touching humility, but with the spirit to fight for those he serves, in the midst of such conflict. Director Paul Cox was inspired in his choices of choosing scenes to highlight 15 years in a single film not two hours long. He uses amazing cinematographic tools to convey the story and the passage of time, a tree stand planted by Damien, the many construction projects he carries out, and watching ‘Little Bishop’ grow up and pass away. Pay particular attention to the music, and the use of the sound of the wind as the film progresses.

This is a story of faith and of service. If you want a film that will challenge your spirit and cause you to examine your own life in the light of the service given by others you could not pick a better film.

The Toronto Globe and Mail stated about the film “A Triumph of the Human Spirit!” Though this film did well at the film festivals it had little or no mainstream release in North America. Is the IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) site about the film.

After seeing this film I have been driven to track down books about Damien and the situation there on Molokai. In watching this film be prepared to be challenged.

(Make sure you get the Letterbox or Widescrene version to get the most out of this masterful film.)

Reviews of Books and Movies about Saint Damien:
Apostle of the Exiled St. Damien of Molokai - Margaret Bunson & Matthew Bunson
Pilgrimage and Exile: Mother Marianne of Molokai by: Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, O.S.F.
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien by: Paul Cox
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien
Father Damien de Veuster Apostle to the Lepers - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Saint Damien of Molokai - Virginia Helen Richards and D. Thomas Halpin
The Life and Letters of Father Damien, Apostle of the Lepers - Edited by Pamphile De Veuster 
Father Damien's Letters

Prayer of the Day - Saint Damien Prayer

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