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Friday, April 29, 2011

Soul Surfer, the movie

My wife and I recently saw the movie, Soul Surfer. It's not the greatest movie ever made, but it was good. Much of the photography, involving views of surfing from under and above the surface of the Pacific, as well as scenery from Hawaii, was spectacular. The movie's web site is here. There's a Wikipedia article on the movie here. Bethany Hamilton, who is portrayed in the film by AnnaSophia Robb, with stunts by the real Bethany Hamilton, has a Wikipedia article here. The Christianity Today movie review is here.

I don't think it's much of a secret that Hamilton was bitten badly by a shark, and lost an arm, but recovered well enough to resume a budding career as a surfer. There's more to the plot than that, but that's the bare bones of it. For more, see the links in the previous paragraph.

Some musings:

1) Although the movie has a Christian orientation -- Hamilton goes to church, and on a mission trip, the family prays, and seems to have faith -- I don't think it's preachy. Also, the title comes from a term that does not refer to Christianity, but is a term used to describe a surfer who has good instincts*. (If the film said that, I missed it -- I picked it up from the Wikipedia article on the film.) The Wikipedia article on Robb says that she is a Christian.

2) There were some recognizable Hollywood names, such as Robb, as well as Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Kevin Sorbo and Craig T. Nelson. Carrie Underwood, country singer, had her first film role in Soul Surfer. The Christianity Today reviewer was less than overwhelmed with Underwood's acting, but it seemed competent enough to me.

3) One question both my wife and I had was "what do these people do for a living?" There was no mention of a job for any of the five Hamiltons, unless they made their living by surfing or making surf-boards. There was a very brief mention of home schooling for Bethany, but no other mention of school, for her or her two brothers, who looked old enough to hold a job. The impression was that surfing was the center of their lives. They lived for it, and not for much else. (Not only did the brothers show no evidence of going to school, or working, but they showed no evidence of having girlfriends, either.)

4) The shark attack was handled well. It wasn't over-dramatized, but it was clear that it was a serious matter. The amputated arm was also handled well. It looked like it had really been removed. There were several episodes showing how difficult ordinary acts are, if a person has only one arm.

5) There was rivalry between Hamilton and another surfer. (I have no idea whether this was based on reality, or just put in for the plot.) That is understandable. However, Bethany's best friend, also a surfer, and apparently supposed to be a Christian, fouled the rival on purpose, and did not apologize. Bethany thanked the rival for not cutting her any slack.

6) The best line in the movie was Hamilton's. After being beaten by the rival, but having done a great job with a good wave, just after time expired, a TV newsperson asked how it felt to lose. Hamilton said "I didn't come here to win. I came to surf." If that was true, it was a change of heart. Hamilton was shown to be extremely competitive, and obviously wanted to win very badly. But if God gave her ability to surf, then she should have used that ability, to His glory, and let the victories come, or not. I hope that was true.

Thanks for reading, even if you were web-surfing.

*I changed this sentence on April 30, 2011.

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