"Many Beautiful Things"...
Those were some of the last words spoken by Lilias Trotter. That is how this film got it's name. A film about a woman almost lost in the sands of history. A woman who was head strong and walked until her feet couldn't carry her any more. Dear Ms. Trotter, I can relate!
It took me a lot to get to this screening tonight; I was looking in the mirror after waking up very late due to exhaustion and my iron levels being insanely low. Should I stay or should I go? Stay home, rest up like a common person would, or be me, of course, and go to see this movie (which my friend Laura made). It was the inner self that drove me to make my decision-- I felt like I had to go. To support a friend, yes, but also something else. The body and the spirit were fighting-- thankfully my spirit led me to go. Why do I tell you this? It ties into the movie's encouragement to find yourself and follow your heart.
I had gotten in my seat before it filled up, and it did fill up fast. 700 people came for 500 spots at the event at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Totally awesome, right? That is how sought out this movie was! It was on the list of one of the top things to do this weekend by Washington Post! I fell asleep for the 15 minutes between sitting down and waiting for the movie to start. Hey, every cat nap counts! I am still exhausted! Anyways, I was stoked to watch this... not sure honestly what to expect. That is when Laura stands up and talks about her movie.
From Executive Producer Hisao Kurosawa, (Dreams, Ran), comes the untold story of one of the world’s greatest women artists and why her name was nearly lost to history. Many Beautiful Things plunges viewers into the complex age of Victorian England to meet Lilias Trotter, a daring young woman who defied all norms by winning the favor of England’s top art critic, John Ruskin. In an era when women were thought incapable of producing high art, Ruskin promised that her work could be “immortal.” But with her legacy on the line, Lilias made a stunning decision that bids us to question the limits of sacrifice. As Lilias journeys to French Algeria in the late 1800’s to pioneer work with women and children as a single missionary, viewers are left to wonder, “Could you abandon a dream to pursue your true calling?” Featuring the voices of Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones). Directed by award-winning filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson (As We Forgive) with original music by Sleeping at Last.
How did this film come about?
A woman named Miriam contacted Laura, the film maker, about helping her bring to life this amazing decades long project she was working on. The story of a woman almost lost in history who lived quite the amazing life. She worked hard to find missing letters, to learn every step in this woman's life. Her husband on the film jokes that he sometimes didn't know if he was talking to Miriam or Lilias.
Why is this important and amazing?
You are talking a woman born into privilege, but a woman who I can personally identify with: a woman that has a heart of gold, loves to give openly, community oriented, head strong, ahead of her time, willing to move her feet until the last drop of energy she can give. That took her very far!
This film left me thinking about how a woman of such stature and ability of art, (which meeting Ruskin offered her more than she can imagine), gave up choice of fame, gave up stature to be able to do something her heart called her to. Being a missionary. Don't think that this is a fully religious film, because it is not. While it talks about God and her passion for the poor, she is an amazing human being with a heart. She followed that which is incredibly profound. That is why this movie is moving and incredible.
She was a woman of firsts. She was one of the few women who really had a gift of art and it got recognised in a time and age where many women were not. She would wonder the streets of London giving a cloak to a woman who was poor. She would try to make sure that women got the chance to eat, even those who some considered to be the lowest of the low.
She met a man who believed in her, Ruskin in Venice, who was famed in his time for art, who could offer her so much that most would pine for. He saw, that even though not socially popular for women to be in art, that Trotter had talent and ability. He wanted to take her far in the art world. From there on out they developed a great friendship.
If it were not for Miriam Rockness, and all of her friends/helpers who helped dig up this history, Lilias Trotter would be but dust. Instead we have this INCREDIBLY INSPIRING story that resonates today as I am sure it would to any one at any time in history.
We all have that inner gift to find something-- to keep something alive the way Miriam did for Lilias and the way Lilias did for the many women she came in contact with.
We are not talking a fairy tale folks- this is a real life fairy tale!
She left on her own to go to North Africa, to Algeria, to be a missionary facing many obstacles a long the way. She got investigated by the French because of the work her and her two or three friends were doing. Yet, she was making sure these women had amazing opportunities out of nothing-- helping them with their own start ups.
"He who sacrifices most, has the most to give" Lilias Trotter from the movie. Work to the limit and break down physically- Dear Lilias, you and I have this in common. Don't mistake... being able to sacrifice has nothing to do of money but of heart.
This movie is a combination of different techniques-- voices overs (done by famous people from Downton Abbey and Indiana Jones) as well as animations, silent movie techniques. It is quite beautiful the way these different mediums are all blended together at the same time and done well! It is so much in one:
- an art film
- a history film
- an art history film
- woman's history
- story of faith
This movie, is one of a kind, unique, and powerful, a film that can and is going to touch many. Where does this need to be shown? Everywhere (duh)! It could be used in museums, galleries, women's colleges, and I plan to use it in homeschool for my kids. It is that rich of a story.
After seeing this film, you can't help question if you are seeking your true path- no matter what the cost. My heart grew, and yours should too, if you watch with an open spirit.
And you should watch it! The movie comes out on International Women's Day on I-tunes, other media, and on DVD on the 8th of March 2016. How appropriate! Before then, come to one of the screenings of the movie (Find a Screening Near You)! You can also check out the movie's Facebook page. Once it comes out, you can go to the official page below and find out more and support the documentary film (by some amazing people).