Thursday, August 11, 2011

Soul Surfer - the movie

Last night I had an opportunity to finally watch Soul Surfer on DVD. Unfortunately, where I live, this movie was only in theatres for a very short time and I missed that window. Most unfortunate, because this is a movie worth watching.

Soul Surfer is an exceptional movie about an exceptional young woman - Bethany Hamilton. It traces the sequences of events that led to that fateful day of Halloween, 2003 when Bethany was attacked by a On that day Bethany and her best friend Alana Blanchard and Blanchard's father and brother went surfing at Tunnels Beach on Kauai. Bethany had her left arm over the surf board in the water when she was attacked by a 14 foot tiger shark. It is unlikely she would have survived if it were not for Blanchard's quick action of improvising a tourniquet out of a surfboard leash to stem the loss of blood.
There are two things I especially liked about this movie. The first is that there was less focus on the dramatic attack and more on Bethany and her experience after the attack. The drama of the attack lasted only seconds and the race to get her medical help was well done, intense and frightening. But Bethany Hamilton is not to be defined by the attack but instead by her response. She showed herself to be remarkably poised and courageous.

That she survived at all after having lost 60 per cent of her blood, amazed doctors and her friends and family alike. God, in His providence, reminded her during the ambulance ride that he would not abandon her. One of the paramedics whispered this reminder in her ear during the run.

One of my favourite parts of the movie occurs when Bethany goes to see Sarah Hill (Carrie Underwood), her youth minister not long after she is out of hospital. When Sarah asks Bethany how she is, Bethany replies, "I'm good. Yeah. Everyone is doing real good." At that point Sarah tells Bethany that she can level with her and tell her how it REALLY is. Bethany tells Sarah that she has been trying to get some perspective, to step back and see things how they really are. She asks Sarah, "How can this be God's plan for me. I don't understand." Sarah replies, "I don't know why terrible things happen to us sometimes. But I have to believe something good is going to come out of this. I don't know what that is."

Of course, this is the struggle all believers eventually experience because all of us will experience something bad in our lives at some point. It wasn't God's plan for her to be attacked, but he had a new plan when that happened and she allowed God to work in her life. Her mother, in one of the special features on the DVD, relates that during the month prior to the attack Bethany and her family had been praying to understand what God wanted of Bethany in her life. This film does portray their strong faith and commitment to Christ, but not in an overhanded manner. It's subtle and believable.

Much of the actual surfing in the re-creation of the competitions was done by Bethany. This was apparently another of the Hamilton's goals in the movie, to demonstrate good surfing to those of us who know nothing about the sport. The surfing shots were brilliant and exciting. I can understand why Bethany felt such a desire to return to the ocean. The beauty and power of ocean was both awesome and inspiring.

This movie was well done and nice change from the usual Hollywood fare. Bethany's book of the same name continues to be a popular choice for teens, although it is written for very young teens and tweens.

You can catch all the latest on Bethany Hamilton at her website, including information on her injury to her right arm this summer.

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