This 1999 Belgian movie about St. Damien of Molokai has some big names in the cast: Peter O'Toole, Leo McKern, Derek Jacobi, Kate Ceberano, Kris Kristofferson, Sam Neill and of course, Faramir (aka David Wenham).
I haven't seen the movie in a while, so I just looked at the trailer.
That alone has the power to bring me to tears, although maybe it wouldn't if I hadn't already seen the movie.
The music by Wim Mertens is lovely. The director was Paul Cox and I think his work on this was very good. This movie is a truly great story and a wonderful piece of art, I think.
A brief interview of David Wenham gives a few interesting details.
I first saw this with a group of friends in Canberra, in 1999 or maybe 2000. It's one of my favourite movies. I love the relationship that is portrayed between Bishop Maigret (McKern) and St. Damien. The conflict between Father Leonor Fouesnel (Jacobi) and St. Damien is all too plausible. No good thing in this life can be done, it seems, without a great deal of conflict and strife!
It would take a fool to come here at all.
—Rudolph Meyer (Kristofferson)
After his first night on the Island, St. Damien is shown giving the old run-down Church a quick cleanup and he begins Mass, with a few of the lepers in attendance.
He then rescues a couple of young women from “the Madhouse” where the people get drunk and so on, saying to them that the building will be turned into a dormitory for the sick and elderly. One of the women says, “Let us live while we can! Nobody cares.” St. Damien replies, “Yes, well I care. And God cares. And this is not the way to live.”
There were so many very moving scenes in this, not least of which was the scene of St. Damien making his confession across the water to the bishop. Wenham did such a great job in this movie, it always felt to me as though I were really seeing St. Damien himself, and that's why I think it's so powerful. But really, everything about it is wonderful, including the writing. There is so much suffering portrayed and yet so much love and beauty.
Rudolph Meyer: From now on, only God can help you.
Father Damien: Yes, I often count on him.
Rudolph Meyer: Oh, Damien, look at all this I've brought you. More than I ever got out of the government.
Father Damien: I have a bishop with a conscience.
Rudolph Meyer: I'm a good Lutheran, I've got no faith in bishops. What are you doing?
Father Damien: I am making a windbreak. We have winds in Belgium too.
Rudolph Meyer: They picked the worst hole in Hawaii. Because of that valley you never see the sun rise and you never see it set. If they were putting away murderers they couldn't have thought of a better place.
Rudolph Meyer: You're a good man, Damien. But you had better learn to bend. Like those trees. The ones that don't bend break.
Father Damien: [fixing William's hut] There. That should be more comfortable.
William Williamson: All this work for a Protestant? You might go to hell.
Father Damien: I would rather that you took the sacraments, but I don't like you sleeping like this within my sight.
William Williamson: I suppose it would be easier for you if I just died?
Father Damien: Oh, you can't die until I convert you.
William Williamson: Do you honestly believe only Catholics go to heaven?
Father Damien: I'm not absolutely certain, but I know that Catholics *can* go to heaven.
If only there were more works of art like this, and more people like St. Damien!
I don't really know what else to say, except to borrow from Peter Hitchens, watching this movie will almost certainly make us better people.
—Louise is an Australian homeschooling mother of six, currently living in Texas.