New film sparks abortion controversy
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 02:04
In November 2011, while Mississippians were gearing up to vote on Initiative 26, local theaters previewed “October Baby,” an anti-abortion movie. The movie was officially released to all theaters in March 2012.
“October Baby” tells the story of 19-year-old Hannah, a college student who has always had a history of health problems. The movie begins with Hannah preparing to perform in a play when she collapses on stage. We learn afterward of all of Hannah’s medical history: hip surgeries, epilepsy and acute asthma, to name a few. Hannah’s parents eventually come clean to her as to why she stays so sick. Hannah was adopted after she survived a failed abortion.
Hannah tries to deal with this news in the best of possible ways: find and confront her birth mother. She and her best friend, Jason, go on a road trip to Mobile, Ala. to find answers. While the film is an obvious nod to pro-lifers everywhere, at the heart of the movie is a story about a girl on a path to self-awareness. That’s the main plot and message of the film for this critic, at least.
However, the only way to get to that point is to strip away the propaganda that shows throughout the movie. It begins with the credits, in which the audience sees that American Family Studios produced the film, a Christian-based organization. From there, we see a girl running through a field with a boy, racing to a lake. While the scenery is pretty, it’s difficult to wipe that image from our minds, and Hannah repeatedly references her Christian upbringing, as do her parents.
As a woman who leans toward the pro-choice movement, I found it hard to get past the credits with an open mind. The movie does have a rare shining moment when Hannah meets the nurse who delivered her, played by Jasmine Guy, and her performance is the only good one. Her chilling account of Hannah’s birth could hold even the most liberal heart’s attention. That’s about it, though. The movie could easily be an ABC Family special with its soft music and use of slow-motion tactics. It’s full of cliches like the college road trip or friendship-turned-romance scenario. Otherwise, all of the actors are overly dramatic, and its plot begs to be released straight to DVD.
Critics generally panned the movie, too.
“What’s most interesting – and depressing – about ‘October Baby’ is how easily first-time feature directors Andrew and Jon Erwin have folded the anti-abortion theme into such standard Hollywood elements as building a plot on serial coincidence and a belief that the talking cure can solve any emotional problem so long as those doing the talking are backlit,” said Mark Feeney of The Boston Globe.
But another message does lie in the film, especially if you can get around the anti-abortion stance. Forgiveness is a major plot theme, and it carries the film to its much-needed end. We have to wait an hour and half for it, but it’s there.
“To its credit, ‘October Baby’ doesn’t opt for the expected ending,” said Barbara Vancheri of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Its message about forgiveness is a welcome one, even though it’s delivered in a clumsily wrapped package.”
Whether or not you agree with the anti-abortion message of “October Baby,” I think we can all agree on one thing: there’s definitely a need for improvement.