This morning, I had a shocking conversation with my own mother that caused a near collision when I almost ran my car of the road in dismay, confusion and disgust. The source of our debate: the movie version of Les Miserables. (Cue “I Dreamed a Dream” now…). The conversation went something like this (daughterly liberties taken with exact dialogue):
Me: What did you do this weekend?
Mom: We went to see Les Mis. I hated it.
Mom: Yeah, I thought it was depressing.
Me: What????!!!! Les Mis — you mean “the” Les Mis right? You didn’t go see the wrong movie right? What???!!!
Mom: Yeah, it was so depressing. It was also ugly – everyone was so dirty. And everyone died. I couldn’t really understand what they were singing about. And what was the point? It was too sad.
Me: What???!!! How can this be??? (Continued by fifteen minute dialogue on the redemptive value of the movie, religious themes, beauty, and altogether world-changing perspective of Les Mis)
Mom: Yeah, well I still don’t really like it. It’s so depressing…
Thankfully for me, we have another case of Father Robert Barron to the rescue. While Mom and I were chatting, Fr. Barron’s Word on Fire team was uploading this video, which has all the answers to my mom’s questions.
I promptly shared it with Mom in a further attempt to win her over to the light. For me, Fr. Barron’s video here is the perfect example of our efforts in the New Evangelization — the opportunity to take a thoughtful look at a piece of popular culture, and to explore it through the lens of faith. My mom (who is actually much smarter than I make her sound in our fake dialogue above) sees her world through the prism of faith. I do believe that when she has a chance to better know the context of the film, to learn the words to the songs, and to understand the themes of redemption that permeate the story, she will fall in love with Les Mis. But another equally likely scenario is that someone who already loves Les Mis will go surfing around Youtube today in search of videos about their favorite movie, find Fr. Barron, and fall in love again with a faith they perhaps never knew or put up on the shelf years ago. Can one video — or one movie — change a soul? I believe the answer lies in the tiny seed of faith and hope planted by them, and would answer with fervor, “Yes!”
But I also thought that to continue Mom’s education, I’d call in the cavalry next and ask YOU to chime in here too. What did you LOVE about Les Mis? What would YOU say to someone who perhaps missed the major themes of the film? And finally, what impact did the movie have on you personally? I promise to share each of your responses with Mom — hopefully they will be more persuasive than mine were!