“The Hiding Place” is a new film on courage in the face of brutality

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“The Hiding Place” is a new film of a play of a book, but its theme remains the same: courage in the face of brutality

August 17, 2023 -

Promotional photo for "The Hiding Place" film. Provided by K. Cole Communications.

Promotional photo for "The Hiding Place" film. Provided by K. Cole Communications.

Promotional photo for "The Hiding Place" film. Provided by K. Cole Communications.

The Hiding Place is a cinematic adaptation of Corrie Ten Boom’s autobiography by the same name. The story was first made into a play for the stage, and the recent film carries the feel of watching that play from the best seat in the house.

The story centers on the Ten Booms and picks up just as the violence of World War II starts to reach the borders of their home in the Netherlands. A family of watchmakers, the Ten Booms—Corrie, along with her father Casper and sister Betsie—open their store to become part of the underground movement to funnel Jews outside of Nazi-controlled lands.

They are eventually discovered, and the two sisters are sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany, but not before the family helped more than eight hundred Jewish refugees escape the same fate.

Overall, the film is well-made and powerfully presents the story of this brave family. One of my favorite parts of the way it presents the Ten Boom’s tale, though, was how it did not shy away from the inner struggles they faced, particularly Corrie. There are moments of doubt and questions about God that give the film a level of authenticity that is often lacking in such stories. As a result, the example of Corrie and her family feels more like a standard of bravery and faith to which we can all aspire than a heroic example worthy of admiration but beyond our emulation.

And, ultimately, the relatable nature of Corrie’s story is important for driving home the film’s primary theme of having the courage to respond to hate with love.

Witnessing the courage to love

Before the first characters take the stage, the movie opens with a quote from Frederick Buechner: “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”

The ability to recognize the evil in the world without allowing the fear of that evil to keep us from opposing it is central to the story’s message. It’s also probably the perspective I found most relevant and powerful to our culture today.

To be sure, the emphasis on responding to hate with love is important as well, but finding the courage to do so requires that we first recognize the source of that hate without fearing it. When we get to the point that we identify people as the ultimate source of evil in this world, then loving them becomes much more difficult. However, if we can see people as God does—absolutely capable of evil but still bearing some trace of his image and worthy of love—then it gets easier to not give up on them.

In one of the film’s most powerful scenes (which took some poetic license in diverging from the book, though the basic theme remains), Corrie meets a young man who apprenticed with her father before bringing the Nazis to their door. Her struggle to accept his hand in forgiveness is palpable. However, the memory of her father’s words and her sister’s example ultimately gives her the strength to do so.

There is no hint of ignoring the wrongs he’d committed or forgetting the pain he’d caused. Rather, she forgave him by refusing to identify him by his sins and looking beyond them to see someone worthy of love in spite of what he’d done. As the viewer, you’re left to wrestle with whether you would have the strength and faith to do the same.

It’s a question I honestly don’t know that I can answer, but the Ten Booms’ story makes clear what the right answer should be.

In a culture increasingly divided and polarized along ideological lines that turn people into caricatures of their beliefs more than real individuals, The Hiding Place film offers an important reminder that we are all called to take a higher view of those around us. We just have to find the courage to do so.

Will you?

NOTE: The Hiding Place is currently showing in select theaters, but its producers hope it will eventually be available to view via streaming services in the future.

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