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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

SOPHIE SCHOLL: THE FINAL DAYS: One of the most uplifting stories of Christian courage I've ever seen

For the past nine months I've been determined... no, obsessed with trying to watch a certain movie. It's a German film, apparently it got very limited showing here in the states and it's due to arrive as an English-subtitled DVD in November. But I haven't wanted to wait that long. This is the story of one of the most inspirational and heart-breaking things that happened during World War II and ever since I first read about these three students years ago, I've been utterly captivated by their courage... and the faith in Christ that sustained them through their trials until the very end. Finding and seeing this film has been one of the bigger projects I've occupied myself with since the year started.

Well yesterday, after making numerous inquiries about it over the better part of the past year, a copy arrived. Not the highest quality that I have been hoping for and I'll definitely be buying the DVD on the day it comes out on November 14th, this is so deserving of space on my DVD shelf. But this is such an important movie that I could not resist talking about it now...

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (click for official website) is the story of the White Rose: a group of college students in Munich who published a series of underground pamphlets denouncing Hitler and the Nazi regime. The film focuses on Sophie Scholl (beautifully played by Julia Jentsch), who was at the center of the White Rose along with her brother Hans and their friend Christoph Probst.

Over the years I've read and studied everything that I could about the White Rose, and I am absolutely floored at the historical accuracy of this movie. But what amazes me even more is that in making this film, the producers did not at all play down the students's faith in God that first motivated them to strike such a blow at Hitler's government, and then gave them the conviction to stand boldly before their accusers in the shadows of a Nazi courtroom. This is absolutely a story of having the courage to stand for Christ even in the face of your own death. Compared to the only other prominent religious movie that's come out in the past few years - The Passion of the Christ - Sophie Scholl: The Final Days stands out as being the far more inspiring tale. This is a movie that should be played for church youth groups across the country, as well as in every high school history classroom.

Everything about this movie is perfect: from when we first see Sophie singing playfully with a friend, to the final moments as she holds her head high and smiles while being walked to the waiting guillotine (that really happened by the way: witnesses said they had never seen someone so serenely accept her fate as did Sophie on the day of her execution). The acting, the lighting and camera-work, the music... good Lord this movie is going to be haunting me for the next few days, I just know it.

I wrote an op-ed column when I was at Elon about the White Rose. I'll say here what I said then: that there comes a time when a person has to stop and look at the way things are going around him or her. And realize that things are not right at all. And then has to have the courage to stand up and say "STOP this @&$% is WRONG!" regardless of how much the temporal authorities have it within their power to kill you for saying it. You have no choice: either you choose to take the stand, or no one else will. And does it really matter that "they" can destroy you in the flesh for doing it? Sophie, Hans and Christoph decided it was better to do what is right in the eyes of God than to do what the thugs in the Nazi regime were telling them to do. Every German schoolchild today knows the story of the White Rose... while those who killed them are nothing but scum in the dustbin of history.

Now, that is real immortality, my friends.

I'm going to post about this again the day the DVD comes out here in the states, but I'm giving you all fair notice now: by any means possible, you absolutely must watch Sophie Scholl: The Final Days. Indeed, I can think of no other movie in recent memory that has so much relevance to the world we are even now seeing arise around us... and what the task is that God would have each of us do in spite of it.