Review: October Baby
“You saw me before I was born.” Psalm 139:16 (NLT)
As the curtain rises, Hannah hesitantly steps onto the stage for her theatrical debut in college. Yet before she can utter her first lines, Hannah—unscripted—collapses in front of the stunned audience.
After countless medical tests, all signs point to one underlying factor: Hannah’s difficult birth. This revelation is nothing compared to what she then learns from her parents: she was actually adopted … after a failed abortion attempt.
Bewildered, angered, and confused, Hannah turns for support to Jason, her oldest friend. Encouraged by his adventurous spirit, Hannah joins his group of friends on a Spring Break road trip, embarking on a journey to discover her hidden past … and find hope for her unknown future.
In the midst of her incredible journey, Hannah finds that life can be so much more than what you have planned.”
Spencer: I believe the movie could have done a much better job at this, actually. The most powerful portrayal of the sanctity of life was when the nurse described how Hannah’s adopted parents stayed by her dying twin brother’s side treasuring the moments they had to spend with him, if only for a short while. I thought this was the best portrayal of the sanctity of life because it shows that even though Hannah’s adopted parents knew that her twin brother would die soon, he still became apart of their family.
Hailey: The movie October Baby may not be a masterpiece of cinematography or destined to go down in history as one of the great films of this era [or even of 2011… but hey I can be a kind of a harsh movie critic, so watch and judge for yourself!!] but it does, without question, do one thing quite well. It paints a powerful portrait of life – its beauty, its fragility, its inherent worth. It reminds me of a quote from Agatha Christie, “I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that to be alive is a grand thing.” Life is a grand thing. But even more than that, it is a gift, a responsibility, a miracle, a breath from God. October Baby portrays this powerfully and emotionally by letting us glimpse life through the eyes of abortion survivor Hannah, who almost had that wild and crazy, precious gift denied her.
Bianca: The portrayal of sanctity of life hit more than one way for me. There’s the obvious sanctity of life portrayed by the evil of abortion but I also saw this in those who were already living. Life is so filled with all walks of life and different people. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, you saw life in all its glory in this movie. That to me, is also a portrayal of the sanctity of life. All the moments together make something truly sacred.
Samantha: October BABY portrayed life as the precious, irreplaceable, fragile and yet, powerful gift that it is. They also exposed how often we take life for granted. Not only does our culture take life for granted frequently, but I believe that we as individuals also do so by forgetting that God created us to live. He created us to participate in others lives. Our life is powerful simply because God made it that way. The very fact that we are created in his image, that He paid the penalty that we rightly deserved and continually forgives us is proof that at the very least our life is worth something!
2. What was your favorite moment in the film where you witnessed this?
Spencer: I suppose I accidentally answered that with the first question.
Hailey: Watching Hannah laugh, hair blown across her face, as she drives with Jason, watching her joke with her friends, run down the beach and splash into the water, scribble in her journal, hug her dad – all of these moments, woven together, create the powerful message, not spoken in so many words but shown in every off guard moment: Life is precious. Too precious to be measured, to become addition and subtraction, to be contained in a statistic. There is no such thing as a single life. For life is so intertwined with other life that you cannot deny one person the right to be without also denying a piece of being from the tens, thousands of others whose lives would have intersected, touched, and intertwined with that life.
Bianca: I saw this when the movie hit that high musical spot and the camera came just at the right moment to see Jason and Hannah run across the beach and smash right into the waves, I also saw this when Hannah was in a town she had never been before hearing about parts of her life she never even fathomed could be hers, and walks out into the hallway and proceeds to just melt from the weight of what’s happening in her life. Although, My favorite scene was the final one. She thanks her parents for life.acknowledging her past that changed her forever. Yet, walking onward with a smile with Jason embracing this new chapter in life.
Samantha: My favorite scene in the movie (not counting the humorous scenes) would be the Cathedral Scene. As the priest sits down and listens, Hannah’s frustration unwinds and we are given a very realistic glimpse of her thoughts. Wisely and thoughtfully he responds. Not with answers to the questions she asks, but answers to the constricting turmoil within. “Only in forgiveness can you be free…you can’t find this forgiveness on a trip or in a cathedral…but if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” The priest knew Hannah wasn’t looking for answers; she wasn’t even looking for forgiveness. She was looking for truth—know the truth and the truth will set you free. Until we acknowledge that we are precious and irreplaceable in God’s sight and accept the forgiveness we have all been offered, we cannot have peace, or understanding, or forgiveness for others. The truth Hannah needed to know was that she was loved, and she was worth a price no human can pay, and she was worth being forgiven.
3. Who was your favorite character and why?
Spencer: My favorite character was Jason, because he was the perfect role model of a best friend. I absolutely loved that Jason and Hannah were together at the end and Jason had broke up with his girlfriend because the best relationships are founded in the best of friendships.
Hailey: I loved Jasmine Guy as Nurse Mary. The depth of the knowledge and heart break in her beautiful eyes was haunting. I also thought the priest at the church was cool, he had this down to earth twinkle in his eye that I liked. To be honest though, my favorite characters might be B-Mac and Truman. And Evelyn. Does she count as a character??
Bianca: I know no one will say Hannah because she’s the main character but my favorite was, Hannah! I really connected with her throughout the movie. I felt her emotion, I felt her happiness, and I felt her sadness. Then I was just really happy for her!! I felt like she was a friend. Oh and I also have to thank Jason’s ex-girlfriend, because if she was any different he most likely would have never left with Hannah. So thank you for being a complete nut, ex-girlfriend. Oh and Jason, he was an AMAZING friend. He was a still spirit just loving her. I appreciated his character so much.
Samantha: Everyone seems to pick the main characters, so I’m taking those as “of course.” After Hannah and Jason, I would choose the police man from the Mobile Prison. I appreciated his patience, willingness to listen, and thoughtfulness to connect the dots. He made a choice to understand. He also made a choice to step out in faith and share powerful truths, which happen to be my favorite quotes of the movie: “to be human is to be beautifully flawed…hate the crime not the criminal.”
4. In the movie, when the mother realizes just who Hannah is she rejects her for the time being but then when seeing the notes that reads, “ I forgive you” she breaks down. Why do you think it affected her that way?
Spencer: Hannah’s mother never wanted her, hence the abortion then adoption. But she still feels the guilt of wanting her own daughter dead. I believe she was affected in that way because she never wanted her daughter dead; and she has realized that the one person she had the full intent to kill for her own personal gain has forgiven her. The mother had cast aside Hannah like garbage, and Hannah, at the end, harbors no ill will toward her.
Hailey: Because that is the reality of forgiveness. It affects all of us in that way, because we are all Cynthia, each and every one of us. And when we read, “you are forgiven,” in the handwriting of the One who we have hurt the most, the One who has born the consequences of our weakness, fear, and sin, what else is there to do but crumble to our knees and cry in the face of the utterly overwhelming, incomprehensible, undeserved gift we call forgiveness? It breaks our hearts and heals them. In the tears, we are set free.
Bianca: Ahhh, that is beauty of mercy and forgiveness! Forgiveness is earth-shaking and will cleanse you to the core. To actually see your child who you tried to abort after all these years, then she leaves a note saying she forgives you? She may have realized at that moment the reality of abortion. It takes a life completely away, and I think that fact was realized in full at that moment.
Samantha: I think Cindy had never forgiven herself. She needed her daughter to forgive her so that she could forgive herself. When Cindy received this powerful, unconditional, and unfathomable love in the form of forgiveness from the daughter she tried to kill, Hannah presented her with a taste of the forgiveness God holds out to us. Pain and guilt that had been crying for 19 long years was accomplished in three words: “I forgive you.” Love that Cindy had probably never known was received from the least likely individual in three words, “I forgive you.”
5. What are your thoughts on how the Christian theme was interwoven throughout the film? Would you have preferred it to be more overt [along the lines of the Kendrick brother films] or did you appreciate the relative subtlety?
Spencer: I did appreciate the relative subtlety. I’ve noticed when arguing with people that aren’t religious that when theology is used it only encourages the opposition. However, when a secular argument can be used that supports the Christian idea, the opposition loses its argument.
Hailey: The movie is obviously a Christian one, but the viewer isn’t beat over the head with the theme, which I appreciated. I think Andrew and John Erwin did a relatively skillful job founding the film on the fundamental truth of Christianity and weaving visible threads of forgiveness, sin, freedom and redemption throughout the movie while maintaining the integrity of the story.
Bianca: The Christian theme I think was only apparent through the pro-life message. There was no blatant talk of it but it was subtle and there. I think the characters showed a Christian way of life and exemplified the words of St. Francis of Assisi, ” Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words.”
Samantha: I do not think the goal of the producers was to convey a loud salvation message. By exposing the power of forgiveness, the treasure of life, and the freedom truth gives OctoberBABY was able to reveal incredible depth of Christianity to believers, while presenting fundamentally crucial truths and seeds to others. Not only that, but they were able to offer healing through forgiveness to many who have walked the path of Hannah, her biological mother, and adoptive parents. With that said, I appreciate the subtlety of Christian theme throughout the movie.
6. Did this movie change you in any way? How do you see it impacting your life or the lives of others who saw it?
Spencer: It did not, I already am very aware of the arguments for and against abortion, as well as personal stories. The movie did not provide anything unique, other than the fact it was a movie that did reach so many people.
Hailey: While I have been aware of many aspects of abortion for many years, October Baby confronted me with the reality of abortion survivors in its heart shattering entirety. To have that played out in front of my eyes, through the personal story of a girl my age, was definitely moving.
Bianca: When the credits rolled I was in tears. The movie definitely had an impact on my view of abortion. At the time I saw it, the Presidential Election debates were airing. So, in frivolous talk with peers the subject of life and abortion would be brought up. I would pick and choose my times to comment. After, seeing this movie I was re-ignited of my passion for the pro-life movement. That, I would say is a huge impact.
Samantha: Firstly, this movie opened my eyes to the pain that abortions cause in many individual’s lives and the fact that there are actually abortion survivors. Although the reality seems obvious now having watched the movie, I had never even thought about the potential of an abortion survivor. Secondly, the Lord breaks my heart every time during the Cathedral scene. Not only did Hannah, the abortion survivor, have to battle feelings of inadequacies and failure, but so do I. And, every time I am reminded that the same weapons Hannah used are the same ones I am commanded to use: truth and forgiveness.
John 8:32 …know the truth and the truth will set you free.Hebrews 12:14-15
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Learning to walk in truth has allowed me to overcome and pursue my relationship with Christ free from the past mistakes which He has cleansed from by washing of re-birth and renewal through His holy spirit. Life walked in true forgiveness is beautiful and radiates the joy and grace of Christ in ways that strand out to our culture. Forgiveness has opened doors in my life to be able to mentor, pour into and watch Christ work in lives of those around me.
7. Do you see October Baby as especially relevant to our generation? If so, in what ways?
Spencer: Yes, because it dealt with two very important issues. First and most obvious is abortion. I recognize abortion is not a new issue, but since its legalization in the United States, it seems to be rather accepted. The second is true friendship. Many people say men and women cannot be “just friends”. While Hannah and Jason did end up together, they had been friends for years and (at least Jason) had been in other relationships. I said it before, and I believe it is worth saying again: the best relationships come from strong friendships. In our generation, we don’t look for a friend first; we look for a spouse first. I would attribute our high divorce rate partly to that.
Hailey: Not to sound like a lawyer, but yes and no. No, because abortion has a long history which can be traced back to c. 2700 BC; it is unique to neither our time nor our culture. Yes because, while the stats vary according to the source you site, it is irrefutable that abortion has wiped out a staggering percentage of my generation. Our generation. People like the friends I hang out with, talk for hours on the phone, laugh together over silly inside jokes. And that breaks my heart. Regardless of where you stand on the legislative side of the issue, the magnitude of human life lost is a tragedy of such proportions it hurts my mind to try to comprehend.
Bianca: Absolutely. Abortion, I find is either a word just tossed around like a joke among some peers or they are just extremely misinformed of the reality. I would love to have this movie aired on MTV to rock some peoples worlds. Also, seeing the respect and love Hannah had for her parents and the friendship between Hannah and Jason that turned into a relationship based on looking out for the other. That was noteworthy and contrary to the relationship progress of today’s teenage and young adult relationships.
Samantha: On one hand: no. Ecclesiastes says that there is nothing new under the sun. We are still in need of a Savior who loves us unconditionally, and forgives us of what we cannot forgive ourselves. At the same time: yes. I often feel that not only are expectant mothers frequently not treasuring life the way God intended it, but individuals aren’t either. A quick look at suicide rates and eating disorder statics does not take anyone very long to recognize this fact. More and more our culture is accepting the lie that we are not good enough to be cherished, approved of, or forgiven. Ironically, the truth is we’re not. God loves us. God chose us. God forgave us. We didn’t do anything to earn the love, approval, or forgiveness. He just gave it to us. God is the one who gives us worth, not us or anyone else’s approval.
8. What would you say to someone considering seeing this movie?
Spencer: I would (and have) encouraged people to see this movie. It is a very beautifully done piece that describes a young girl’s struggles with being a survivor of abortion.
Hailey: What – you haven’t seen it already??! Get on it!! ;)
Bianca: I could say, ” Watch this movie…. it’s very well done.” Which it is! Yet, know that if you told me in person that you haven’t seen this movie, you’d be on the way back to your house with my borrowed copy.
Samantha: Three things:
- Watch it and watch it more than once!
- Watch all the behind the scenes, special features, deleted scenes, extras and anything else you can find—they make the movie!
- Finally, my caution would be the way Hannah responds to the intelligence of her adoption. Frequently, after finding out that she is adopted Hannah says that her adoptive parents are not her REAL parents. She is correct in the fact that they are not her biological parents, but being the sister of two adopted brothers I am very aware that the adoptive family is the REAL family. The adoptive family/parents are the ones who you share your life with, educate you, love you, care for you, encourage you, and cheer for you no matter what. On another note, being a girl, I can completely see how and why Hannah responded the way she did, because I probably would have received the information similarly. At the same time the restoration between Hannah and her father, on account of Hannah’s confusion with adoption, is beautiful and critical to the plot!
9. If you could describe October Baby in one word, what would it be?
Spencer: Real. When the biological mother read the note from Hannah saying, “I forgive you” and broke down crying seemed very real to me. The truth is always more persuasive than fiction.
We had a great time coming up with this for both of our respective readers! Also, a fun side note to the readers is none of use were together for this Q&A and no one had seen each other’s answers until now. I waited until it was published right now on the site to read everyone’s response which was awesome. I was enlightened and tickled by some of the answers. Truly, speaking for all of us, we are glad to speak on the issue of abortion and support October Baby in every way we can.
(you can read this article on The You Are Loved Campaign’s blog, here)