When you watch a movie, do you watch it just for entertainment value? Let me suggest a different way: As you watch, be asking yourself, “What does this movie say about humans and our needs, about God, about religion, about the meaning of life?” Doing so really allows you to get more out of a movie than ever before.
In the churches I am part of, one of the things I try to do on occasion, is host a movie study. I pick a movie, and open it up with some discussion questions to watch for during the movie. Then we watch it. Afterwards, we discuss the movie, and some of the questions. Here is one such study I did recently on the movie “Henry Poole is Here.” If you haven’t seen the movie, I suggest you rent it, and watch it while asking yourself some of the questions below.
Henry Poole is HereIs your life a miracle or a mistake?
Quote: “Do you ever feel like things happen for no reason? Like you’re just along for the ride?”
Quote:“All that either of us have is right now.”
What do you think of some people’s tendency to see apparition of Jesus (or Mary) in strange places – like a lava lamp, a Cheeto, a piece of toast, or a water stain on a wall? Are these miracles, or just mistakes?
What do you think of healing, especially when it happens to people who believe differently than you do? Are such healings from God, from Satan, or just mere coincidence? What do you think they believe about your claims of healing? What do you think atheists believe about all such claims?
What does the movie say about people’s greatest desire, as seen through Henry, Esperanza, Patience, Millie, and Dawn? How about the film director (Mark Pellington) himself? Four years ago, he lost his wife unexpectedly to a ruptured spleen, and was left to take care of his 2 ½ year-old daughter, Isabella. He says that many times he wanted to end it all, but Isabella and others gave him the hope to go on.
How does water play a role in the move? (Henry’s name. Trying to wash the wall. The balloon fight: “I surrender.” The river walk.) What does it symbolize? What role does water play in the life of the believer, and what does it symbolize?
Why does Henry want to check under the bridge for what he wrote as a child? Why does he post the picture of his family on his wall, and write “Henry Pool was here” underneath?
Can people see the face of Christ in you? Are you a source of hope to those in pain? When you encounter people who are filled with depression and despair, who, or what, do you point them to? Is this a reliable source of hope?
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
What is it that all people want? We could say, “Money” or “fame” or “health” but really, these are pointing to something else, something hidden, that people want: HOPE. Hope for the future. Hope for something better. This life is full of disappointment and despair, but hope keeps us going.
Henry Poole needs hope. Upon moving into his home, the first person to welcome him to the neighborhood is a woman named Esperanza, which in Spanish, means “hope.” And like hope, she is unrelenting. Patience patiently works with Henry. And Dawn is the light. Upon meeting Dawn, he begins to feel hope.
And yet, Henry Poole is a man without hope. His situation is so desperate, his life has been so full of fear and failure, that he cannot bring himself to hope. He cannot bring himself to touch the face of Jesus on his wall. Why not? For fear it “won’t work.” For fear of another failure.
In the end, Henry discovers he is not sick. Was he healed, or was it a misdiagnosis? As with the other healings, the movie leaves such questions unanswered. But whether the physical healing occurred or not, Henry is still healed, because he now has hope.
How can you be a voice of hope to those around you? How can you be the face of Christ?
How do you view your life? As one big mistake, or one big miracle? Henry Poole has problems seeing a miracle in the stain on his wall. What he realizes by the end is that whether it is just a stain or actually a miracle, it still caused a miracle in his life. Regardless of whether he was truly healed or simply misdiagnosed, he found the miracle of love and hope for the future, he found that his life could actually be lived with significance.
I thought this was a great movie, full of insight and humor. You can get it at Amazon.