Friday, December 28, 2012

"The Hiding Place": a 1975 Billy Graham film about a Christian Dutch family during the Holocaust illustrates the risk of "radical hospitality"

The Hiding Place” is a 1975 film from Billy Graham and World Wide Pictures, now distributed by Fox on DVD, that seems almost as a harrowing a Holocaust story as in of the larger commercial films, even if it s a little more intimate.  The film, directed by James F. Collier, is based on the books by Corrie Ten Boom and John Sherrill.  The Ten Boom family members are played by Julie Harris, Jeannette Clift, Arthur O’Connell and Robert Riety.

In 1940, Corrie and Betsie work in a family clock and watch shop in the Netherlands.  Out of a sense of Christian generosity, the family gradually starts sheltering Jews in its home.  The early part of the film develops the idea of “radical hospitality” and the idea that Christian faith requires people to share the burdens of others  (including being sheltered, even from enemies) based on need.  There is one scene where one of the Ten Boom family is told by a Jewish person that it would be all right for everyone if everyone had the courage to stand up and be counted as Jewish, which in one sense, everyone is.

Eventually (after an irregularity with ration cards), the family is caught, and the two sisters are sent to a concentration camp.  The sequence with the train journey is similar to that of many other Holocaust films, if a bit abbreviated (although the entire film runs 145 minutes).  The conditions in a women’s camp seem as brutal as in any.  The women are put into slave manual labor, often beaten (by other female guards) and fight for gruel and bread.  Betsie dies, but Corrie survives and is released, by somewhat a lucky break, before the liberation.  She then must deal with the idea of forgiving her captors. I don’t think I could have survived or dealt with this had I lived through something like this.

The film can be found free on YouTube (not sure it’s legal).

Pat Robertson actually interviewed Corrie in 1974.

It would be interesting to hear Rick Warren talk about this film today. 

This is a good place to mention the 1959 film from 20th Century Fox and director George Stevens, "The Diary of Anne Frank", in black and white Cinemascope (one of the earliest films in this format), with Millie Perkins as Anne.  I do recall showing this to a history class around 2004 when I was a substitute teacher.  I believe that I saw it in early 1961 about when graduating from high school; it was discussed in government class.    

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