OctoberBaby_Poster_smI had the opportunity recently to attend a screening / preview the Irwin brothers film October Baby. This film highlights the victims of abortion, but more specifically abortion survivors. The fictitious story centers around a teenager, Hannah, who discovers that she was adopted, and was a survivor of a botched abortion. October Baby focuses on all those that were impacted with her survival in one way or another, including the attending abortion center nurse, birth mother, adoptive parents, and of course, the teenager herself.

A “Christian Film” It Is Not

Even though the screening included footage of the Irwin brothers expressing great joy over being able to enter into the “Christian film industry,” (a term which I am not wholly friendly towards), I would argue that October Baby is not a Christian film. Though it may have some common feelings with Christianity (and I did say “feelings”), if it retains the Christian film nomenclature it should win the award for being the “most covert.” The film makes reference to little that would be characteristically Christian. The writers and producers seemed to be so concerned about not offending viewers by word or action that all such things are left out.

October Baby contains no church involvement. The one church that is brought into the film is a Catholic church where Hannah wanders to and occasions to speak with a priest. Hannah (the abortion survivor) expresses that she is a “Baptist,” but is helped by the priest. Apparently her Baptist upbringing had no effect or ability to help her in this time of struggle. Sharing that her implied Christian involvement could not sustain her or assist her misses the Christian message, and actually degrades the intent of the film. She is a Christian and doesn’t know what to do? The Christian walk centers around interaction with a local body of disciples who learn the Word and help each other. Hannah has no such connection or help evident. Was this scene just a gesture to appeal in a more ecumenical way? Market is the message?

October Baby makes no clear references to Scripture. To say that a film is Christian and leave out Scripture is, well, unchristian. If the goal is to appeal to the Truth, and proclaim the Truth, why not share some Truth? I caught no references to the Word in this drama.

October Baby contains no clear Christian conversation or conduct. I found myself in strange territory when this fictional Baptist with her fictional Baptist parents had no Christian words amongst themselves. In fact, I was trying to figure out why these supposed Christian parents would have failed to tell this adoptive daughter of theirs about her adoption or her being the survivor of an abortion (and other things that I will not share so as not to spoil the movie for those that have not seen it). I was in a further quandary why such a Christian girl would take off on a co-ed spring break and end up in compromising situations such as being in a motel room alone with a single boy. That is not conduct encouraged in any Christian group I’ve ever known.

October Baby provides no clear Christian takeaway. This may sound repetitious, but this film leaves one with feelings, not facts. The feelings are not bad; they are just incomplete without something to hang them on. The Truth sets one free, not emotions. In a truly Christian film, one should walk away with something very clear to think about, not just a sense of emotional pain.

A Mixed-Up Market

I would suggest that the writers and producers confused their audience, and lost the full impact that they could have had. The film , when analyzed (as opposed to experienced) leaves things painfully incomplete. Something is missing when appealing to the Christian, and more is missing if the intent is to appeal to the non-believer.

It is very apparent that October Baby is written to appeal to the unchurched and irreligious. The message is presented in a way to appeal primarily at an emotional level, touching on the pain abortion causes, especially surrounding failed abortion. The film seems to go to great lengths to avoid any real Christian connection, to the point of not sharing one.

The film offers no action for Christ followers. Even though the “Christian film industry” seeks to activate the Church to sell their wares, this film gives nothing concrete to know or do for those that want to act. Further, at least from my view, it tries to sell a Christian story that is very unchristian, even foreign to those actively attending and serving in a local Christian assembly, and seeking to learn and live the truths taught in the Word of God.

Even though I was given the privilege to view this screening for free, I felt a little used. I was challenged to promote this so that more such films could be made. That seems to be a self-justifying market. “Please come and see our movies, so that we can make more.” That pitch would work on any product anywhere, if you can find those to do what they are told without discernment. Make a good movie, and we’ll spread the word about it.

Two Detracting Observations

In this film there were enough technical gaffs to actually catch my attention, and such attention to detail when viewing a movie is usually not something for which I am known (ask my kids). Jumpy camera shots were plentiful. Scene mistakes were also evident (tears on cheeks in one shot, missing in the next; the priest walking far away and the audio footsteps not matching his stride, etc.). It was not a technical disaster, but it was not a stellar work in that area either.

If you like crying, you will like October Baby. There is much crying in the film, which seems to encourage crying at the film. I felt that the crying was largely “see and do likewise” rather than from any powerful scenes which made you want to cry because of content. It came across very manufactured. I think I’ve mentioned “emotion” enough times already that you get the picture. Make people cry because of your message, not because you have people crying in front of them.

One Major Concern

From a pro-life perspective, I walked away from October Baby confused. This is due partly to the exclusive focus of the film on the abortion survivor at the cost of any emphasis on those that do not survive abortions (where the abortionists actually succeed in killing the babies). This confusion is also due to comments by the writers and producers (in the screening, not in the actual film) that seemed to miss that truth as well. All abortions kill babies. Some survive abortions, but that story is not worse than any of the 54,000,000+ “successful” abortions that have taken place to date since Roe v. Wade.

There is even a level of confusion which I believe could even be construed by some to think that we need to make sure there are no unexpected survivors of abortion. Some could really walk away with that thought. “If it is this bad, we need to make sure that no one accidentally survives an abortion.” Refer back to the need for clear Christian information.

Conclusion

Though the film is presented as a contribution to the Christian film market, October Baby accomplishes that only by weak implication. There are no clear or overt Christian messages spoken or presented.

The film does encourage people to consider how others are affected by abortions, and more specifically, failed abortions. However, it does so on a subjective feelings level, with no presentation of absolute truth or principles. Though it may get people thinking about abortion and its consequences, maybe it will be used by some to introduce the topic for further truth-based discussion. and maybe it will even encourage some to decide against having one, the film falls short in presenting the foundational truth of the value of life, or any clear Christian truth.

11 comments
  1. I am surprised you are so critical.  I likewise had the opportunity to see a prescreening of the film here in Iowa and was very impressed.  Is it a big-budget Hollywood film?  Nope.  Is it overtly Evangelical?  Nope.  Is it the best “Christian” film to-date.  Yup!

    I loved that it wasn’t overt and full of Evangelical Christian cheese, Christian-ease, Scripture recitation, etc.  It told a story that addressed well themes like purpose, forgiveness, the value of life, and faith.  Jesus loved to tell stories that were less than overt.  These guys did a pretty good job of it themselves.

    I saw a couple of technical issues too but this film will be far more effective at imparting Truth, in my opinion, than more overtly Christian movies like Fireproof or Facing the Giants because it is, in fact, more tactful and accessible.  Anyone can watch this movie and come out edified and inspired.  Those will an open heart and mind will also let the message of faith sink in.

    I am going to pay full price to see it again in the theatre.  This type of storytelling and faith-based film will only improve and get better (as it has already!) if it is supported.  Go see the film!

    1. Thank you Mr. Subra. I also think much as you do about this film and many other so-called Christian films in recent history. The Christians in the film come out not even acting like real Christians. Is it possible Mr. Goranson to be a true Christian and not be cheesy or appearing as a scripture-reciting robot? Some Christian movies portray Christians as so tongue-tied that they cannot even get out one lucid sentence, much less quote scripture. BTW, what is wrong with quoting scripture?  Wasn’t Jesus Christ our example in this?  Do you find fault with Him when he isn’t telling stories?
      Although the Roman Catholic aspect of this film was not touched on in the article, this also is a problem. Rome has historically used movies to teach their doctrines and to confuse people. By making the priest the one that the Baptist girl goes to, what message is being sent about the Protestant church? Don’t miss the claim of being Christian, yet including Roman Catholics alongside Protestants. Rome is not a Christian church, but the ecumenical movement is trying really hard to blur the lines so that folks are left believing it is. Is this really the message of the film? And is this why the viewer is left in the end with more questions than answers? Something to think about.

  2. Thank you for your review of October Baby.  I have not yet seen the film.  However, I am often very disappointed in so-called “Christian” films that do not definitively point to Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  It makes no difference how good people “feel.”  Feelings seldom lead anyone to search out truth.  We have way too much “feel good-warm and fuzzy going on in our “Christian” realm today.  The hour is late and we need the truth of Scripture. 

    1. It never claims to be a “Christian” film, by the way.  It’s just that a number of Christians were involved in the writing and producing of the film.  We laud Christians for working in Hollywood on mainstream films but when they touch the subject of faith, life, or family; why do we then all of the sudden require them to be overt and even cheesy to win our seal of approval?  We should guard against a critical spirit when there is nothing “wrong” with the film and it delivers a powerful, positive, and faith-friendly message.

      1. Eric, the producers clearly indicated that they were excited to be entering the Christian film market. I’ll take their word for what they were attempting.

        What is wrong about being overtly Christian? Being overt seems to be the only way to be “Christian” as I would understand it. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify God in the day of visitation.”

        This film is positive. It has nothing to do with faith per se. Truth sets people free, so the truth needs to be shared. This film avoids sharing any clear truth.

  3. How ironic it is that it is a roman catholic priest that is helping the young woman. Is God more angry about abortion than with the wholesale slaughter of Christians throughout history by the church of Rome? What would’ve made a more compelling story is if the young woman, a survivor of abortion were to read Foxe’s book of martyrs that tells about the Roman Catholic murders of true Christians throughout history. She then confronts the priest with that information and shares the gospel with him. As a result, he repents of the false religion of Rome and embraces the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    1. It’s not ironic at all. the catholic church does more for the anti-abortion movement, than any other institution. stop throwing stones, you sound ignorant.

  4. Thanks for the linked article. It’s from a totally different perspective, but powerful nonetheless.

  5. I saw the movie yesterday and loved the message, loved the story.  It communicates the horror of taking a life, and also the wonder of the forgiveness and grace God offers.  It shows true reconciliation in many lives involved and that every life is beautiful.  I don’t know what could be better than that!  I loved the scene with the Catholic priest, nothing political about it, but rather a beautiful opportunity for God to speak to the young girl about forgiveness through a man of God.  

  6. Sir, I respect your service to our country, the fact that you have a wonderfully big family, and that you have always homeschooled.
    In response to your blog I have a lot to say.
    Wow, I just got back from seeing the movie and I think you need to go see the movie again.  It is a great example of a Christian movie reaching out to the churched and the unchurched.  I think it specifically speaks to those people who are sitting in the pews but don’t know the Love of God.  They don’t have a real relationship with Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior.
    I don’t think the movie was so much about abortion or adoption but about finding a place in God’s world, accepting your past, no matter how bad, forgiving yourself, forgiving others and accepting forgiveness.  The boy and girl that went to the hotel room never was in the bed together and they ended up sleeping on the couch in the lobby of the hotel.  Hannah didn’t just wander in to the catholic church, she went there specifically after she found out her adoptive mother went to the same church during lunches after she lost her babies during pregnancy.  The priest talked about Paul and the letter to Colossus. The father talks about his struggle with God after they lost the other babies.
    As for church involvement, Hannah says that she is a Baptist.  The move takes place over 3 weeks of time,one of those weeks is spring break.  Hannah is in school and there isn’t much time in a movie to include all the visits to church that might happen in 3 weeks.  However, the character of the girl shows that her parents have sewed Christian values into her life.  There are no scenes of sexuality, intense tension, or even kissing.
    At the end of the movie there is a wonderful testimony from one of the actresses that is very glorifying to God (during the credits). Also during the credits there is a list of national and local pro-life organizations that can be of help to anyone needing the help.
    Please go see the movie again and ask the Lord for an open mind when seeing it.  It is a fine movie.

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective. We probably all see different aspects of the same film when viewing it.

      This film, without question, is marketed and touted as a pro-life film by the sponsoring agencies (including FamilyLife, Focus on the Family, AFA, etc.). That is what the writers and producers say it is as well. It is also touted as a Christian film by the writers and sponsors. On those premises I made my comments, and on those premises I stand by my comments.

      I agree with your comments regarding what didn’t happen in the movie. I was taken back by some of the situations and choices that they allowed themselves to get into which in real life often do not end as they did in the movie.

      I am just curious how you would see this film about “finding a place in God’s world,” when God is only a byline, and not a major, clear component in the story at all. Claiming to be “Baptist” is hardly a clear statement of faith (Bill Clinton claims to be a Baptist, for example). The absence of any storyline involvement by the main character or the parents in any Biblical truth leaves the film wanting.

      I so much want movies to know the love of God, and have a real relationship with Jesus Christ, but to do so, you have to tell people about the love of God, and about Jesus Christ. This movie did not. The film wasn’t bad. It just left so much out that it missed the point (barring starting a conversation possibly).

      Thanks for sharing. This is one film you won’t be able to sell me on. – Kevin

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