Please read previous blog entry “Why?....” for my disclaimer as a movie critic. So here are my first reactions to the movie. I have since watched it many times. More about that another day.
So back to the theater......
I had determined beforehand that my first viewing would be about the movie--the story of the miracles. I didn't look for myself, nor did I look for family members. I did look for the message. I was not disappointed. In many instances, I was completely amazed. I had watched scenes being taken. I knew how I thought they would look. Sometimes the scene was similar to what I had expected. Usually they were completely different--better. I couldn't help thinking, "How did that happen? How did they get that to work out that way?" As much as I tried not to look at the extras, there were a few times when I still noticed.
In spite of all these distractions, I still shed tears. Can any human being that is not “beyond feeling” watch these events without tears? Some of the miracles I had read about before being an extra in “17 Miracles.” Obviously, Elizabeth Crook Panting’s miracles have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I had read about the little girls jumping over the snakes. An aside from the movie, Ellen Cantwell, age 9, was bitten on her hand by a rattlesnake. All that could be done for her was to apply a mixture of powder and lard externally and some whisky internally—“after which she slept soundly for some time.” Although surviving (another miracle with that kind of treatment!), she suffered for months . I didn’t know about Ann Rowley’s experience or the Mellors’.
One of the most touching scenes, to me, in “17 Miracles was when Levi was pulling the wagon with Bodil and Albert (as angels) pushing from behind. I have always known that there were angels who helped these saints. That is the only way that the majority of them could survive. But I had never thought that those who had been part of the company might have been granted the opportunity to be among the angels who did help. Yes! That seems truly possible. When I watched the scene, I got goose bumps. I still do. To see Albert “whole” as he is now in heaven, was such a tender touch. I loved it!
My first reaction to my first viewing was one of great sorrow for these saints. I love Levi Savage’s assessment in the movie: “And though they did not have even the basic skills of a frontiersman, they were disciples of the Lord and did have what it would take to become heroes.” “17 Miracles” is a tribute to those strong, sturdy, faithful English and Scandinavian heroes. It is a reminder to us. I would give the movie a top rating. “17 Miracles” portrays the stories in a true T. C. Christensen style. For the most part, just the right amount of dialogue, the right amount of narrative, the right angle of the scene, the right actor/actress coalesced to bring to the audience the true emotion of the message. The humor surrounding Albert, Levi and Ann Cooper, grants us short reprieves from the intensity of the situation. It is a perfect balance.
“17 Miracles” combines all of these things to be a movie to be added to one’s personal library of movies. Then, to be view again and again….so as to always remember!