"A Powerful Testimony of God’s Call"
What You Need To Know:
THE LETTERS has some great acting, including by Juliet Stevenson, who plays Mother Teresa. Some of the movie’s moments are absolutely superb. Regrettably, the movie tries to cover too much territory, so at times it’s almost like a documentary and more linear than dramatic. Even so, the movie is a powerful testimony to God’s call. MOVIEGUIDE® commends the filmmakers of THE LETTERS for attempting such an important and vast story. It will inspire many people, inside and, hopefully, outside the Christian faith.
(CCC, BBB, V, N) Very strong Christian worldview looking at the mission and minister of Mother Teresa from the viewpoint of her letters to her spiritual advisor, with a very Catholic orientation that, however, avoids inter-denominational disputes; no foul language; television type violence where Muslims are attacking Hindus in the split of Pakistan and India after independence in 1948, threats of violence, and Mother Teresa treats wounded, sick and dying people throughout the movie; no sex; upper male nudity; no alcohol; no smoking or illegal drugs; and, nothing else objectionable.
THE LETTERS tells the story of Mother Teresa and her incredible mission and ministry from the viewpoint of the letters she wrote her spiritual advisor, wherein she confessed her doubts and her feeling of alienation. The movie has some very strong, poignant Christian moments.
The story opens with Max Von Sydow, who plays her older spiritual advisor, and Rutger Hauer as the investigator deciding whether Mother Teresa should be sainted. According to her letters, she wrestled with doubts and alienation from people and God throughout her life. The movie shows this was in stark contrast to the miraculous success of her ministry, including healings and the very acts of ministry themselves.
The first scene of Mother Teresa has her graduating from seminary in Dublin in 1931. She quickly goes to Calcutta, India, where she works at the Loreto Convent and School. Her spiritual advisor says she was a great teacher. This was where he got to know her.
On a train trip to a retreat, says Mother Teresa, God spoke clearly to her that she was called to leave the convent and minister to the poorest of the poor. She calls this a call within a call. Her Mother Superior objects, but Pope Pius grants her one year to work with the poorest of the poor.
Some of the Hindu poor are very angry that she’s trying to evangelize them. She says they need her, and she’s there to help them.
When India goes through the pain of independence from the British Empire in 1947 and 48, several hundred thousands of people were killed in the battles between Hindus and Muslims. Eventually, this resulted in Pakistan being formed as a Muslim nation.
In this brutal situation, Mother Teresa studies medicine and nursing and takes care of the sick and the dying. The city of Calcutta grants her the right to take over an unused temple to the goddess of death, Kali. The Hindus start to riot, but she confronts them, and that is the last battle she faces. The Pope grants her the ability to start the Missionaries of Charity, and her ministry grew throughout her lifetime and is still growing, even though many outreaches of the church is shrinking.
THE LETTERS has some great acting, including by Juliet Stevenson, who plays Mother Teresa. Some of the movie’s moments are absolutely superb. Regrettably, the movie tries to cover too much territory, so at times it’s almost like a documentary and more linear than dramatic. Even so, the movie is a powerful testimony to God’s call. It is very Catholic, although it doesn’t focus on areas of contention with other parts of the Christian community, but also has some strong evangelical dialogue from Mother Teresa herself. Also, it shows the true story of Mother Teresa, who spent years fearing alienation just as anyone who’s been called by God.
There are two great movies about Mother Teresa already there. One is a feature movie starring Geraldine Chaplin called MOTHER TERESA: IN THE NAME OF GOD’S POOR. Another is a documentary by Anne and Jeanette Petrie narrated by Richard Attenborough. Mother Teresa’s work was so compelling that many atheists came to Christ, including Malcolm Muggeridge.
MOVIEGUIDE® commends the filmmakers of THE LETTERS for attempting such an important and vast story. It will inspire many people, inside and, hopefully, outside the Christian faith.