One thing never ceases to fascinate me when I watch a movie: how often people who don’t know God proclaim God-given truth. Scriptwriters, producers and actors are often very clear in media interviews about their worldviews and theological convictions — which unfortunately are rarely biblical.
But even moviemakers who claim to want nothing to do with God often create stories that reflect God’s truth. We watch films that trumpet the value of selfless sacrifice or assure us that evil will not have the final victory. And sometimes, even moviemakers who adamantly speak out in favor of “a woman’s right to choose” give us a story that shouts the value of pre-born life.
Obviously, there are movies that proclaim the value of life at other stages and in other circumstances: movies about the elderly, the physically and mentally challenged, the refugee and more. Maybe we’ll do another post featuring films on those themes. But in honor of Focus on the Family’s upcoming See Life 2021 event, here are a few of my favorite pro-life, pro-baby movies. Some of them are clearly made by people who believe in their life-affirming messages, while others were likely created by producers or writers or actors who would shudder to be labeled “pro-life.” Either way, these stories remind us of a truth that only makes sense if it comes from God: Every life has value.
October Baby (2011, PG-13)
This story of a young woman on a journey to find her birth mother is fictional but based on several true stories. In “October Baby,” Hannah Lawson finds out she is adopted, and her birth mother tried to abort her. She later tells a priest: “My entire life is a lie.” As she works to unravel who she really is, we see the pain abortion causes for everyone it touches. (For a powerful and true behind-the-scenes story, check out this testimony from Shari Rigby, who plays Hannah’s birth mother.)
The Giver (2014, PG-13)
A retelling of Lois Lowry’s book of the same title, “The Giver” follows Jonas, a teenager in a utopian world where the elders make all the decisions for everyone in the community. The black-and-white world is devoid of conflict but also joy, as families talk of enjoying each other’s company but don’t know how to define love. Jonas, however, is different. Or at least, he is becoming different. Since the elders gave the children of his class their career assignments, Jonas, who was chosen to be the Receiver, has been regularly visiting the Giver. The Giver is tasked with passing down to Jonas all the memories of humanity: holiday celebrations, war, birth, death, natural catastrophes, gorgeous views of nature. Jonas’ eyes are opened, and he soon realizes that in the mixed-up ethics of his community, his family’s foster baby is in danger of being “released,” a euphemism for euthanasia. How far will he go — and how many cultural rules will he break — to save the baby’s life? And will the rest of the community ever see the world the way Jonas now does?
Horton Hears a Who (2008, G)
This animated movie is one of my favorites. In this take on Dr. Seuss’ classic book, Horton the elephant is enjoying his idyllic life in the jungle of Nool when he realizes that a tiny, microscopic town — Whoville — on a nearby flower needs his help. Horton doesn’t back down from his mission even as the taunts of the other forest animals grow into menacing threats. Even if they can’t see the tiny people of Whoville, Horton knows they are there and that they deserve protection. The rhyming cadence of the narrator’s intermittent lines, Horton’s goofy innocence, and the repeated truth that “a person’s a person, no matter how small” make for an endearing and impacting story.
The Drop Box (2015, Not Rated)
Pastor Lee was horrified at the practice of abandoning infants in the harsh cold of Seoul, South Korea. Spurred on by a love for all children that was ignited by his own severely disabled biological son, Lee built a baby box in the wall of his home so desperate parents could safely leave their children — many of whom have special needs. He and his wife have adopted several of the children. This documentary (entirely in Korean, so turn on the subtitles) follows this unusual family as they serve in ways that are simple yet so very countercultural and important. A beautiful picture of a husband and wife doing mundane things that are eternally valuable, all without looking for fame. (For more on the behind-the-scenes story, check out filmmaker Brian Ivie’s interview with Boundless.)
Storks (2016, PG)
Perhaps storks used to deliver babies, but the hazards of the job have since motivated the long-legged birds to take up phone deliveries instead. Junior is proud of his work at Cornerstore.com, and is nervously thrilled when the boss assures him that the company will be passed on to him soon. But his final pre-promotion assignment goes absolutely wrong when he and Tulip, the lone human in the company, accidentally fire up the antiquated baby machine. Junior and Tulip aren’t sure what to do with the baby who appears, but they decide their only option is deliver her to her family. On their way they nearly destroy the company but ultimately find a return to their roots and slogan: “Make a plan. Stick to the plan. Always deliver.”
Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer (2018, PG-13)
This is a heavy one. When authorities raid Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic after a tip about illegal drugs, they find cat droppings on the floor and the feet of aborted babies in the freezer. The facility is shockingly unsanitary and some of the patients seem too far along to be having legal abortions. Some of the agents think it’s better to look the other way, but Detective James Woods and Assistant District Attorney Lexi McGuire stay on the case until Gosnell is brought to trial. Based on true events, “Gosnell” is a sickening look at the abortion industry. Characters claim that the case is about infanticide, not abortion, but we see how closely linked the two are. If you watch the DVD, be sure to check out the extra “Making of ‘Gosnell’” for an actress’ real-world story of her visit to an abortion clinic, and the choice she made.
Unplanned (2019, R)
It’s hard to find a story more surprising than Abby Johnson’s. In this retelling of her book of the same title, “Unplanned” follows Johnson through her recruitment as a Planned Parenthood volunteer as well as her two abortions. She rose through the ranks to become a dedicated Planned Parenthood clinic director, but she was confronted with the reality of abortion when she was asked to participate in one. Abby Johnson was never the same again.
Some of the stories above are fictional, some are true, and some are somewhere in the middle. A few of these are heavy and even hard to watch, while others are funny and lighthearted. But all of these titles showcase the value and joy and importance of human life. As the soundtrack for “October Baby” reminds us, life is beautiful. What other movies would you add to this list?
Editor’s Note: Have you heard about Focus on the Family’s See Life 2021 event in Dallas on August 28th, 2021? Get the scoop and join in person, virtually and in prayer!
Copyright 2021 Lauren Dunn. All rights reserved.