Monday, December 06, 2004

Extraordinary "Catholic" Movie: "The Five People You Meet in Heaven"

Did anyone see this on TV last night? It was truly one of the best, most spiritual, and moving films I've ever seen. Mitch Albom, considered one of the very finest sportswriters in the country, and also a non-sports author (e.g., Tuesdays With Morrie, which also was made into a movie, starring Jack Lemmon), is based in the Detroit area. I used to take airline tickets to his house every week, in the early 90s, as part of my delivery responsibilities, and met him briefly (Jeff Daniels is also a Michigander, from Chelsea, about 50-60 miles to the southwest of Detroit).

I had thought that Albom was Jewish (he is). The movie seemed so Catholic to me (to the extent of even being "sacramental" and suggesting purgatorial suffering after death in some ways), that I wondered whether I was mistaken, and that he might indeed be a Catholic. This just goes to show yet again a point where I readily agreed with my agnostic friend Ed Babinski, in the second round of our debate: basic morality is a thing held in common by the human race (men being made in God's image; thus intrinsically possessing these sensibilities and longings and a sense of justice and right and wrong).

Accordingly, Catholics and other Christians are not in the least surprised when a well-done artistic statement such as this one, on the meaning of life and the deeper wellsprings of spirituality and existential longing, offers a powerful message in the medium of drama (or fiction, as the case may be) that can profoundly affect those of any religious background. I am reminded of The Song of Bernadette, about the Marian apparitions at Lourdes: a book which was also made into a popular movie. The author, Franz Werfel (1890-1945), was a Jew who resided for a time in Lourdes, while fleeing from the Nazis.

Here are some articles about the movie. If you missed it and ever see it on a DVD at a movie rental place or in a store, by all means, I strongly urge you to watch it (and don't ever deny again -- if you have done this -- that the days of great moviemaking, and great messages in movies, are over):

SurfWax -- News and Articles On Mitch Albom

Catholic Online: A Companion Guide to the Albom Movie (Steve Kellmeyer)

Beliefnet: Paradise Is in the People: Mitch Albom Interviewed by Rebecca Phillips

Bookideas.com: Review of the book by John Hoh

Amazon.com book page (with over 1000 reviews and ranked at #3 for sales!)

ABC.com - Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet In Heaven

imdb page: Five People You Meet in Heaven, The (2004) (TV)

Review by Hagen Baye

Many more entries in a Google search

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