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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Damien
Directed by Nino J. Martin
Ignatius Press Video 01/01 DVD/VHS Feature Film
Not Rated

This extraordinary one-man drama is a compelling human and spiritual document on the suffering servanthood ministry of Father Damien, a priest who put his life on the line for the sake of others, specifically the lepers isolated on Molokai island in Hawaii. The author, Aldyth Morris, calls this work her "personal confrontation with a saint." She first became interested in the life and work of the Sacred Hearts priest in 1936. She drew upon two sources of information and inspiration: The Imitation of Christ (the classic that Damien lived by) and News from Molokai, Alfons Korn's volume that included letters written from the leper settlement during Damien's ministry there. It is to her credit that this two-act play affects us on so many levels with its emotional intensity, high spiritual pitch, and deeply human moments of pain, humor, anger, and love.

As the Belgian born Father Damien (Terence Knapp) moves through the expressionistic sets — the study, the cathedral, the Board of Health's office, and the homeland — we learn of the protagonist's childhood on a farm, his familial devotion, his difficult early years in the ministry, his special calling to serve the lepers, his anger at the Board of Health for their indifference to these suffering people, and his personal anguish over the gossip and criticism of his unorthodox ministry.

Mahatma Gandhi once wrote: "The political and journalistic world can boast of very few heroes who compare with Father Damien of Molokai. . . . It is worthwhile to look for the sources of such heroism." This drama offers us all an opportunity to seriously meditate on the meaning of servanthood in a time when we desperately need more heroic figures as exemplars of the faith.

Purchase: Ignatius Press Video 1-800-651-1531

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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