Sunday, April 12, 2015

Documentaries That Change You

Do you like documentaries? It's my favorite genre these days. I get very little time to watch TV, which isn't a bad thing at all. I'm actually thankful that our TV doesn't get much use, other than playing PBS shows for the kids. But it is nice to occasionally sit down and watch something in the evening. Perhaps I'm just getting old and cantankerous, but I have little interest or patience for the TV shows that are popular today. I feel like we're offered two poor choices: badly written, silly network shows OR better written, well acted original series that are unfortunately filled with things that we don't care to see on our home TV (gratuitous sex, violence, etc.) So more often than not, I turn to documentaries, because I like to watch things with substance that broaden my view of the world and its people.

In the last month I've seen a few documentaries that have not only broadened my horizons, but that have also affected me deeply inside. I think they're worth sharing,  especially if documentaries are your jam. They can all be found on Netflix right now.

If you see any of these films, please see "Blood Brother." When I first started watching this movie, I was my usual skeptical self - "another awkward documentary about a a clueless American "do-gooder" in an impoverished nation." I'm so glad I kept watching. The movie never mentions Jesus' name, but I can't think of another film where He's so well presented. You'll have to watch it to see what I mean. It's not an easy movie to watch, (you will cry,) but it will challenge you to examine the real meaning of love. Don't miss this one!

Another movie that deals with love: "The Dark Matter of Love" examines the struggles of older institutionalized orphans to bond with their adoptive families. It really opened my eyes and heart to the plight of older orphans who are less frequently adopted, and their desperate need for affection, stability and family. The progress of the children in this film was a really beautiful thing to watch.

I confess, I love anything Stephen Fry. I adored him in "Blackadder" and "Jeeves and Wooster," and I have enjoyed his more recent foray into documentaries. ("Stephen Fry In America" is a great series.) "Wagner and Me" took me completely by surprise, and Matt and I agreed it was one of the best movies we've seen this year. Fry takes an introspective look at the life and music of Richard Wagner, who is beloved by Fry, despite the fact that  Wagner was a raving anti-Semite who was adored by Hitler and Fry is Jewish, with family members murdered during the Holocaust. Filled with fascinating history, and beautiful music (I've loved the Tristan and Isolde prelude ever since seeing "Melancholia" and there is a whole section of the movie devoted to the "Tristan chord." Classical-music-nerds unite!) Even if you're not a classical music nerd, there's much to be gleaned from this one.

I feel like I need to include "Virunga" on this list, even though towards the end we thought it got really dry and hard to follow. If you've ever read Barbara Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible," (I love that book,) you'll be fascinated by "Virunga" which takes place in the politically turbulent Democratic Republic of Congo. The film investigates the many threats to Congo's precious Virunga National Park, and the extremely brave rangers who risk their lives protecting it. Young investigative journalist, Melanie Gouby, really caught my attention. Such a brave young woman working in stressful circumstances. (Disclaimer: this one has quite a bit of language, if you try to avoid that.)

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