There are probably already countless movie reviews on this topic. They may focus on the movie’s actors not winning any academy awards and the storyline being fairly predictable. My main observation about this movie is that what makes it successful is that it is not so much a documentary preaching at you but rather preaching disguised as a “chick flick,” i.e. one woman’s story of overcoming adversity. In fact, this is why I think the movie is so important.
The movie shows abortions and in the process reveals the hypocrisy of those who are “pro choice.” All of this is presented within the life story of the protagonist, Abby Johnson.
Nevertheless, the pretext of the film is set by how it begins. The movie makes the dramatic choice of showing you an abortion in the first scene. Why?
As a young man, I never understood the argument that, “I’m pro life, but I do not believe in forcing other people to be.” That always sounded like, “I’m against OJ killing his wife, but I don’t think it should have been illegal.” The question is, plainly, are we destroying life or sucking up an unthinking tumor/clump of cells?
No one cries about removing gangrene body parts. Being part of a human is not the issue. The question is whether the unborn baby is really a baby. If we cannot go dashing babies’ heads against stones, then we cannot go aborting unborn babies if they are in fact babies.
At one time the best doctors, philosophers, and fathers of the church really had no idea when “life began.” They simply did not have the technology to know when the baby was “just a clump of cells” and when it was an actual person. Some believed once the fetus started kicking it was an actual baby. Others believed it waited until the baby was born and breathed oxygen (I am not sure what they thought kicking was using this criteria but whatever). However, there was this idea that before all of this, the baby was being formed like a germinated seed, a coalescing of meat and blood inside the womb.
Modern science leaves this completely indefensible. Embryos share the DNA of adults and almost immediately the unborn develop into what is for all intents and purposes a human being. Arms, legs, brain, eyes, heart. They move, feel pain, and I am not sure when they start “thinking” but this is probably pretty early and being that we don’t smash the skulls of people who are “vegetables,” whether someone “thinks” does not seem to be a criteria for personhood.
So, the preceding is all heady and philosophical–but all easily understood by simply watching an abortion. The movie shows one. It shows what the baby looks like in the womb and how he/she reacts. With the tears falling and dramatic music playing, the audience without having to study Augustine and genetics already knows the basic truth. A human was just murdered.
This is why Unplanned is so much better than a documentary. Generally, people don’t want to watch a documentary. We don’t always want to make a decision by weighing evidence and logic. In fact, we make tons of decisions every day based on our “gut,” “instinct,” or how we feel about what we see. When someone flips you the bird in traffic, your reaction is not a carefully thought out ethical response. We have a feeling of right and wrong, and our response is predicated upon what we know to be right.
So, Unplanned informs viewers by addressing us with this more base level of ethical reasoning. Just show them what abortion is without going into all the debates at the moment. Hence, right at the beginning of the movie, the viewer already makes up her/his mind without any specious reasoning required. As the movie unfolds, it then goes through the arguments for and against abortion, obviously siding with the pro-life side. However, by beginning with an actual abortion and making this the pretext of the film, it is out “gut” and not our “mind” that now weighs the rest of the story and the “arguments” pertaining to the topic.
The movie itself is “watchable.” It’s not going to win any awards for best screenwriting, but its entertaining, not slow, and interestingly funny near the very end (a two-bit lawyer beats Planned Parenthood due to the flimsiness of their case or the politics of the judge, the movie never says.) I honestly think anyone can sit down and want to watch to the end. This is what I call in entertainment “good enough.”
And “good enough” is all the movie needs to be because ultimately it is about the evils of abortion and not being the biggest blockbuster their ever was. If the majority of “pro-choice” people were to sit down, watch this, and still be “pro-choice,” I would be shocked. Ultimately, that is where the real importance of this movie lies. In mass distribution. And after its theater run, hopefully it will eventually be available in free showings, dollar DVDs, and such.
This is why the media (online and otherwise) has essentially memoryholed every video of an actual abortion procedure that does not look like grainy crap from the mid 80s. Anyone who has had an ultrasound knows how clear the images are and they know that if you watch a video not obscured of an actual abortion, you could not possibly support it. (Note: I do suppose that the other alternative is becoming an increasingly hardened sociopath). It’s the same reason the news never shows you actual fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Sure, you see a bunch of videos of planes and rockets as if war was a videogame, but that’s it. They know if people see the close-up gruesome details, like the Vietnam War, they won’t stand for it.
They are the hegemony that runs the world. Academia, industry, government, and media–all not wanting to have the people revolt against endless war, limitless abortive genocide, and constant dehumanization. I would only concede that this is an unfair description of these groups of people if we stopped endless wars, unnecessary genocides, exploitative entertainment, non-informative “news,” and such.
A manifestation of this hegemonic corruption at work is that Unplanned was Rated R in what must have been one the most questionable MPAA ratings ever. If Titanic can be PG-13 with full frontal nudity, sex, and people getting killed on a boat then why is a movie that uses the H and A words once Rated R? Simply because it shows an abortion.
If abortion is not really the murder of a human being, then how is this worse then a bunch of human beings getting killed on the Titanic? Even the movie Taken is PG-13 and there is kidnapping, prostitution, and killing people up close. Ironically, no 14 year old was going to watch Unplanned without parental supervision anyway, so the rating merely garners free publicity of the film and exposes the hubris of liberals in entertainment.
My last comment of interest is I find it funny that all of the “good guys” are implied to be Protestants when in fact they were Roman Catholics. Roman Catholics are definitely the strongest force behind the pro-life movement in the US, though the makers of this movie make an important Protestant contribution.
Please watch the movie and when it gets cheap enough, give out the DVDs.