How do you forgive the unforgivable? That’s the question raised in Amish Grace, a 2010 TV movie based on an actual event that took place on October 2, 2006. On that day, Charles Carl Roberts IV walked into a one room Amish schoolhouse and proceeded to shoot ten girls, after which he turned the gun on himself. It was a senseless act that left many scratching their heads wondering why would anyone walk into a school with the intention of murdering innocent children?
Amish Grace depicts the events of that day and the days following, and while it doesn’t answer the above question – I don’t think it ever intended to – it does strive to show how the Amish community dealt with their pain, anger, and sorrow, and just how far they were willing to go to obey God’s Word.
The acting in Amish Grace is superb for a TV movie. Kimberley Williams-Paisley plays Ida Graber, one of the Amish mothers who lost a daughter in the shooting. Previous to this film I had only seen Mrs. Williams-Paisley in a couple of movies and TV shows, the most notable being the sitcom According to Jim, and to be honest I didn’t expect too much from her. But she is fantastic in this film. She plays Ida with a passion rarely seen in TV movies and gives a tear-inducing performance that is sure to leave even the most hardened viewer with a huge lump in their throat. Likewise, Matt Letscher (Eli Stone), who plays Ida’s husband Gideon Graber, and Tammy Blanchard (Bella), who plays Amy Roberts, the wife of the shooter, both give sensitive and heartfelt performances that are sure to open up the waterworks for many people. As for the rest of the cast… let’s just say that I had no issues whatsoever with the acting in Amish Grace.
As for the production quality – the picture, sound, music, screenplay, and the directing are all way above par for a TV movie… so again, no issues here.
Content wise, there is a lot of Christian content in this movie which surprised me given that this is a TV movie. There’s talk of Jesus and God, people read from The Bible, and one man even talks about God’s Will and the path of Christ. However, the main theme that runs throughout the entire film is that of forgiveness.
If anyone were to ask me what this movie was about, I would simply reply forgiveness. Honestly, I was taken aback by the sheer amount of screen time that was devoted to forgiveness, both the giving and receiving of it, and I can safely say that I have never in my life watched a movie that tackles the issue of forgiveness as well as Amish Grace. As I stated above, the acting and production quality are both excellent, but ultimately forgiveness is what this movie is all about… the backbone of the story that permeates every detail of the screenplay.
Amish Grace more than calls believers to consider/reconsider just how far they would go to forgive. It was as if the producers and writers of this film decided to make forgiveness the battle cry of this movie… the flag planted in the sand… the banner emblazoned on high for all to see. The message is simple yet profound, challenging yet freeing, tragic yet hopeful, and is a call for all believers to forgive, as it’s God’s Will that we forgive!
I liked that the producers chose not to show the actual shooting, so as not to make the movie violently exploitative or gratuitous. Instead they chose to veer away from the actual crime itself to concentrate on those left behind, which I thought made for a more impacting movie. In fact, the power in this movie is not to be found in sensationalism, but in the tender coming together of believers who, as a community, walk through the aftermath of a senseless tragedy to collectively forgive what the majority of the world would look upon as simply unforgivable.
Amish Grace is a soul stirring and emotionally charged movie, and believe me when I say that you will be moved. Although not the most pleasant movie to watch, I would highly recommend that all Christians should – must – watch this movie at least once to see what true forgiveness looks like in action.
One of the best portrayals of forgiveness ever to grace the screen, Amish Grace is a remarkable film that takes the viewer on an incredible journey through the Biblical ideals and reality of forgiveness – what it looks like, how it works, and to whom it is extended.
Christian St John – Christian Film Guide Editor
|Christian Film Guide Ratings for Amish Grace (2010)|
Violence: Man shoots 10 girls and himself – this happens off screen; talk of the shootings.
Language: God; OMG.
Faith/Spiritual Content: Amish pastor talks about walking the path of Christ and asks his congregation how they can keep their eyes on God if they are distracted by the things of the world; people sing “Safe In the Arms of Jesus”; Amish way of life is show – men and women sit separately in church and at a community lunch; talk of peace, heaven, angels; woman talks of going to prayer meeting; woman prays; woman says that a recently deceased girl is safe in the arms of Jesus; girl reads Psalm 23 from Bible; one of the murdered girls prayed for her killer; preacher talks about the healing light of forgiveness; man talks about his daughter being in heaven with her Father; man exhorts others to trust in God’s wisdom; man says that if we forgive, peace will follow; man says the Amish share one another’s burdens; Man talks about forgiveness being his duty and the right thing to do; man says that if we hold onto unforgiveness, we are the ones being punished; man says that forgiveness is not a pardon or mean forgetting, it simply allows God to be the judge; someone says that forgiveness comes from an open heart without condition; a grieving girl is told to never feel bad for being alive; woman talks about how her husband chose to go to hell; man tells daughter that hate is a very big, very hungry thing with plenty of sharp teeth that will eat anything without remorse; someone says that God will punish the evil that men do; man is said to have been mad at God; woman refuses to forgive and it threatens to destroy her relationships; powerful scene of forgiveness at a funeral; the Amish community shows support towards the wife of the shooter; man says it’s not easy to forgive; woman talks about continual forgiveness; the words God Is Love are seen on a mortuary wall; man talks about true faith being shown in times of trial and testing; Amish man talks about the persecution his people have suffered.
Main Themes: Loss, grief, healing, redemption, faith, compassion, love, fellowship, hope, peace, forgiveness, community, the Amish, grace.
Christian watched his first movie at 3 years old and since then has watched literally thousands of movies. With a love for both God and movies, Christian launched Christian Film Guide in 2012, and although it's a relatively new website you could say that it's been almost 40 years in the making! About Christian More reviews by Christian