table border="0" align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0">
What does it mean to grow up "less than human" as a slave? What does slavery do to the human soul? What happens to the mind? What about devastating memories that haunt us into a peace-less existence? 
pur_yel.gif (6906 bytes)
B
ELOVED
(1998) 
pur_yel.gif (6906 bytes)
By David Bruce
.........................
David Bruce
The film is based on the book by Toni Morrison, in which a slave is visited by the spirit of her deceased daughter.
CAST:
Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Irma P. Hall, Kimberly Elise, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Thandie Newton.
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia)
Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Toni Morrison.
Rated R.
 
THIS REVIEW IS A SPOILER
YOU MAY WANT TO SEE THE FILM FIRST.
The past has a life of its own.
beloved1.jpg (23066 bytes)
The story is based on a true incident. A renegade slave by the name of Margaret Garner attempted to kill her children because they were going to be taken and returned to the plantation from which she had escaped. Death seemed to be the better alternative to the evils of slavery. The ghost of the dead child, Beloved, is the invention of the author of the book, Toni Morrison. The ghost, Beloved, represents the lingering pain of a shattered life. A broken-ness so profound and irreversible that it haunts the whole life.
beloved2.jpg (24857 bytes)
Sethe sacrifices her child by shedding her blood. Freedom through death is a profound spiritual reality. Sethe instinctively knew this was the only act to protect her beloved child from the ravages of an evil world. It was a spontaneous act. A mother's mission of love captulized in a moment in time. You can almost hear a primordial scream emanate from Sethe's spirit: "Evil will not have my baby. She will be free."
beloved3.jpg (22519 bytes)
Sethe was publicly stripped, abused in a disgusting manner and unmercifully whipped by the so-called respectable people. Her slave owners seemed bent on proving through her public humiliation that their only mission in life was to maintain "superiority" through the intentional dehumanization of others. Afterwards, Sethe escapes to the underground railroad, blazing a new trail on her quest for freedom.  Sethe is bleeding, pregnant and near death. She collapses. Discovered by a young white woman, Denver, she is nursed back to health in the woods along the river.  Sethe gives birth to another baby and names her after the young woman of providence. After regaining her strength, she makes her way to Ohio; a free state.  She is free.  Or is she?
beloved4.jpg (24620 bytes)
Hard working Sethe earns her way up into the emerging middle class. Her new life, however is haunted by her past. This is visually and skillfully depicted in the film. Objects in Sethe's house move and rooms flash in red. The painful haunting of the past affects everything in Sethe's life; her daughter, Denver; her love relationship with lover Paul D; everything!
beloved5.jpg (19599 bytes)
The invisible haunting is only the beginning.
beloved6.jpg (23454 bytes)
Suddenly, the impossible happens. The ghost of Beloved becomes incarnate and rises from the bog. The filmmakers create a very mystical feel to the whole event. There is a mist that covers the ground. Butterflies, the symbols of metamorphosis, flutter about as Beloved rises to life. She rests against a tree where she is covered with ladybugs. Her snore (voice) is rough from the slit throat she suffered at the hands of her mother. She finally makes her way to her mother's home and introduces herself. Sethe reacts with a sudden and necessary trip to relieve herself. Her daughter has returned from the dead.
beloved7.jpg (21889 bytes)
The sense of the mystical continues through the whole film. There is another dimension beyond the physical and the film makers keep it alive in our minds through the use of muted colors, shadows, light, dreams, and even through enchanting nature scenes.
beloved8.jpg (24050 bytes)
Beloved continues her destructive work in Sethe's life. She seduces Sethe's lover, Paul D, and becomes pregnant with his child. Sethe's daughter, Denver, moves out. Sethe is left in utter isolation. Her life is reduced to the care and feeding of the ever-growing pregnant Beloved. In town, Denver mentions in passing Sethe's condition to some Christian women friends of Sethe. These caring women band together and armed with crosses and prayers go and visit Sethe. The visit is the very strength that Sethe needs to pull Beloved out of her bed in the darkened room. Throwing open the front door Sethe exposes the naked truth of her past to daylight and to the women. They immediately fall on the ground with loud cries for the deliverance of Sethe. Then suddenly the bondage is broken. Beloved is transformed into a host of butterflies. She is no more. Freedom has come in the form of hope for the future.
OFFICIAL SITE
Beloved, © 1998 Touchstone Pictures. All rights reserved.

RELATED NEWS

SLAVERY CONTINUES IN CHINA
Oct. 22, 1998. A Christian wants his imprisoned friends freed. Shen Xianfeng protested the Chinese government's labeling his house church movement a cult and called on officials to release his fellow believers from forced-labor camps. Sixteen leaders of the China Evangelical Fellowship, including Shen, were given 2-to-3 year sentences in labor camps in 1998. Shen, who was released for medical reasons, said Christians are abused in prison.
..."We were constantly interrogated, beaten, and exposed to the cold wind of an electric fan in severe winter conditions," he told Compass Direct News. Shen, from Henan province, said his group is not a cult but is orthodox in faith and patriotic in outlook. Protestant churches not connected with the government-sponsored Three-Self Patriotic Movement are often labeled cults to justify legal action against them, he said. Henan has seen the largest church growth of all China's provinces, and it is estimated that 10-to-20 million believers may live there.

ATTACKS ON AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHURCHES DECREASING.
Oct. 22, 1998. Attacks on U.S. churches have decreased but still are numerous. The National Church Arson Task Force reports that arsons, bombings, and attempted bombings are down since 1996, when there were 297 violent incidents against churches; there have been 114 in 1998. The task force said it has not uncovered evidence of a national conspiracy to burn churches, particularly African-American ones in the South, United Press International said.

EMBRACING "ENEMIES" WITH LOVE
Oct. 22, 1998. The U.S. ambassador to Vietnam is a Christian and former prisoner of war. Douglas Peterson, 63, spent six-and-a-half years in Hanoi's Hoa Lo prison. He lives and works at the U.S. Embassy, 15 minutes away. Peterson said his faith helped him overcome hatred caused by torture and solitary confinement. "I was taught in church to forgive. During my stay in prison, my faith in God was all that sustained me. How could I be true to my Christian faith if I did not come back and try to bridge the river of pain between America and Vietnam?" Peterson visited his former captors a few months after arriving in the country last year. About 4,000 people in An Doui village came to see the former Air Force fighter pilot. He and the Vietnamese soldier who captured him embraced and became friends.

News from ReligionToday.com is Copyrighted by Media Management. Content may be reproduced provided proper credit is given to www.ReligionToday.com.

THOUGHTS TO PONDER.

What does it mean to grow up "less than human" as a slave?

What does slavery do to the human soul?

What happens to the mind?

What about deviating memories that haunt victims into a peace-less existence?

SPIRITUAL INSIGHTS
on LIGHT and PAIN.

Most of us have painful memories that haunt us. Bad things have happened to us through the hands of others. We have made bad choices. Such incidents are painfully imprinted into our memory and soul. We can replay those memories and feel them all over again. It takes time to work through these things. But work through them we must. Or, they will ruin everything else in our life. Such memories can grow and dominate just as pregnant Beloved did in the film.

We can not win in isolation. We need to expose our problems to the light of day and gain the help of those who care.

Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.
Luke 11:33-36 Msg.
Jesus said, "No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It's put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they're going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar.  Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don't get musty and murky.   Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room."

This is the crisis we're in ...addicted to denial and illusion. John 3:19-21 Msg.
Jesus said, "This is the crisis we're in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God.  Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won't come near it, fearing a painful exposure.  But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is."

Hate and God's light. 1 John 2:9-10 Msg.
Anyone who claims to live in God's light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark.  It's the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God's light and doesn't block the light from others.

But if we walk in the light..1 John 1:7 Msg.
But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin.

OVERCOMING DIFFICULTIES
Some Brief Thoughts.

The difficulties in life are intended to make us better not bitter.

The best way out of difficulty is through it.

Despite all the pain and trouble, life is still better than the alternative.

A person's most fervent prayers are not said when on their knees, but when they are flat on their back.

Invite trouble and it will usually come.

Troubles are like babies -the more you nurse them, the larger they grow.