Movie Review – The Cider House Rules

A review with a difference. I don’t want to particulaly go into the ins and outs of how good Michael Caine (British = always good) or Toby McGuire were. Instead I want to share a few thoughts of what this movie (and, of course, the book that it was based upon) are trying to tell us.

First, a brief synopsis from http://www.hollywood.com/movies/detail/movie/180145

“Synopsis: The story of Homer Wells, a child without parents who is raised and mentored by his orphanage’s doctor, a man named Larch. Their’s was an extraordinary bond. Larch taught Homer everything about medicine and what he could about right and wrong. All Homer wanted was one thing Larch couldn’t give him… rules to live by. Given the chance to leave the orphanage, and the only family he’s ever known, Homer realizes there is an entire world to discover. His new life provides more excitement than he could have imagined, especially when Homer falls in love for the first time. But, when forced to make decisions that will change the course of his future, Homer ultimately realizes he can’t escape his past.”

So what is this past that Homer that Homer can’t escape from? Simply put, this is a film about abortion written from a distinctly pro-choice pov.

Larch is a doctor and is popular because he will perform abortions which are, at that point, illegal in the States. As Homer grows up he becomes a de facto doctor, training alongside Larch. He learns how to everything and, by the age of 18, might as well be an MD. But he has one rule; he will never perform an abortion. Why not? Because he himself was an orphan and he recognises how easy it would have been for his mother to have aborted him rather than let him live.

So Homer eventually leaves the orphanage and the film takes pains to portray him as idealistic and naive – point being, this young man doesn’t really understand.

Homer ends up working on a farm and stays in the “Cider House”, the building where the negro workers stay. These workers will travel around the region picking fruit and getting board and wages. They’re a close-knit bunch with some tensions.

We now get one of the key scenes in the film. A bunch of the workers are sitting on the roof of the Cider House talking to those inside. One of the people inside tells them that there’s a piece of paper tacked up on the wall. Homer is the only one that can read and so he tells them that they’re a bunch of rules, the Cider House Rules for the workers. So he reads them out. Lots of rules. One which gets a howl of laughter is “no-one to sit on the roof”!

Once the rules are read out one of the workers makes a telling statement to the effect of these are rules written by people who don’t have to live in the Cider House.

A year passes and the workers return. This time one of the girls is pregnant and it transpires that her father is the father. He has been raping her. She turns to Homer for help and he is in a dilemma. What should he do? He had decided long ago never to carry out an abortion but here is a seemingly needy case.

The outcome can be predicted. He carries out the abortion and eventually returns to the orphanage to be a full-time doctor, including helping many patients with abortions.

So what is the film trying to tell us? Simply put, the moral is this:

Homer’s initial decision never to carry out an abortion is a “Cider House Rule”. It’s a rule made by someone who doesn’t have to “live in the house”. Once Homer becomes “wiser” he realises that he doesn’t have the right to make such rules and “tell” women what to do without “being in their situation”.

It’s a calculated and deiberate broadside at the pro-life position and needs to be recognised as such.

FWIW, it’s a well-acted film and makes it’s point particularly well. But the point that it makes is, intrinsicly, evil. The right to life of the unborn child is just a “Cider House Rule”.

So watch this film! Get wise to how the media puts ideas in our heads and seeks to change our thinking. And recognise how they do it with this film. It’s a great film, lots to learn. But don’t let it think for you!

More soon (Pleasantville, Philadelphia, etc)

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