Deliver Us from Evil, Directed by Amy J. Berg
Disarming Films, June 24, 2006 (USA)
Written by: Amy J. Berg
“Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.”
-from the Catholic version of the “Lord’s Prayer”
Writing about Amy J. Berg’s deeply moving film Deliver Us from Evil is not easy. The victims stay with you. It seems impossible to equate the personal tragedies and heartbreaks with anything redeeming.
But to say nothing at all? I am reminded of the eloquently simple yet powerful ad campaign of a human right’s group.
Today, I hold the June 7, 2010 TIME Magazine. The cover story is certainly an attention grabber: “Why Being Pope Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry: The sex abuse scandal and the limits of atonement.” How brazen, really. On the one hand, the church chooses a route of silence towards its own sins in order to protect its institution and does so knowing the side effects: the facilitation of continued horror and an endless path of destruction in which the most innocent of lives—that of children—are obliterated. Conversely, church officials choose to speak loudly from morality pulpits like when Pope Benedict XVI recently said that same sex marriage was among “today’s most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good.”
Naturally, I wondered why it was that I found it so difficult to praise a film that affected me so intensely. More than anything, the resulting silence seemed to protect the guilty. As for the victims, no quotes or names are given here. No level of sympathy or compassion can bridge the gap.
Perhaps a Catholic upbringing adds to the confusion. But it is here that I draw the line, coming to terms with why I found a sickeningly devastating film so inspiring.
Deliver Us from Evil is a portrait of courage. It is the courage of victims brave enough to speak out despite having to relive their stories and suffering so that all can see and hear. As a result, the film shows a heartbreaking but critically important close up of what the shattered remnants of broken lives look like. We cry. We become angry. We bear witness to true courage—courage to survive and choose life despite carrying the weight of all that has been taken away. And while we hope beyond hope that we or our loved ones are never faced with such atrocities, and as we feel compassion and outrage rising up for those who have suffered at the hands of pure evil, we gain a better understanding of the danger and power of silence.