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'A Walk to Remember': Love Defined

By Laura Bagby
CBN.Com Producer - Bad boy falls for innocent, smart goody-two-shoes -- In today's typical teen flick this love story would equal a murky mix of partying, disgust for authority figures, and an inevitable loss of virginity.

Finally, there is a romantic drama that portrays what true love and true living is really all about while keeping morals and clothes intact: the unassuming A Walk to Remember.


Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, the Warner Brothers Pictures heart-warmer starring pop singer Mandy Moore (The Princess Diaries, 2001) as the sweet, shy, and morally upstanding Jamie Sullivan and Shane West (Whatever It Takes, 2000) as popular bad boy Landon Carter follows the lives of these two Beaufort, North Carolina, high school students as they each grow and learn from each other through life's tender moments and unexpected trials.

Instead of reveling in teenage rebellion and overzealous affections, A Walk to Remember points to the values of love, forgiveness, and mercy. It tells the story of teens with integrity and purpose, of teens who, though young, stand up for what is right. It tells the story of going against the crowd, of not caving into peer pressure. All the while tugging on your tear ducts.

Jamie is a star-gazing, Bible-toting preacher's daughter, who, because of her strict Baptist upbringing, wears mostly loose-fitting dresses and sweaters. Landon, on the other hand, is an angry young man with a mean streak for those outside of the popular crowd. He initially considers Jamie prudish and bookish. But then he gets to know her: Jamie who is sweet…Jamie who is determined…Jamie who doesn't care what people think…Jamie who has quiet strength…Jamie who has faith in God and faith in him. And Landon, despite the taunts and tricks of his friends, finds himself not only falling for Jamie, but standing up for her when she needs it most. True love -- not sex -- is what this story is all about. And at the heart of this film is this familiar passage of Scripture which plays a pivotal role:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, NIV).

If you are looking for positive role models and a movie that won't embarrass your date, this is it.


Breaking the Star Vehicle Mold

Unlike last year's Glitter, starring Maria Carey, and this year's Britney Spears headliner, Crossroads, A Walk to Remember is not a movie about its star. It's not the familiar singer wannabe-becomes-overnight-pop-sensation plot. Though Mandy does sing several songs as part of the annual Spring play at Beaufort High School, the film is, as it should be, about the character -- in this case, Jamie. Plus, Mandy Moore can act. She is totally believable as a woman of faith.

Teaching Young Girls to Stay Pure

At first it takes a while to adjust to a teen girl in dowdy clothes. We ignore her. We want to see her in body-hugging clothes. But then, that is what the world teaches women. To be hot you have to show it all off. To be cool, you have to be sexy. And it is simply not true. I love this movie, because it shows young girls that by sticking to your morals and staying chaste, you can get an awesome guy. It also shows that beauty is more than skin deep. This is encouraging for those who are trying to take a stand for their values.

Handling Issues of Love and Sex with Respect

Old black-and-white movies knew how to handle love scenes. They weren't crass about sexuality, and neither is this film. Rather than showing all the passion, the film shows restraint and respect. Where most films would unashamedly broadcast intimate bedroom scenes, as in a couple's honeymoon, this film prefers to leave such visions to the imagination.

And when the subject comes up in conversation, it is handled with caution. In one nervous conversation with his daughter, Jaime's father is trying to explain the reality of teenage boys' sexual expectations when dating. The film is gentle, yet the audience knows exactly what dad is saying. And again, with Landon, who returns early one morning after presumably staying out late with Jamie the night before, the conversation goes something like this:

LANDON'S MOM: Be careful, she is the preacher's daughter.

LANDON: It's not like that with Jamie (meaning, we don't have sex).

LANDON'S MOM: It better not be. (You better not be having sex.)

Letting the Light Shine

What's the best way to bring other's to Christ? To live it.

The Bible tells us:

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16, NIV).
Jamie's goal throughout the film is to be that lamp in the darkness. And as her life stands firm and peaceful trusting God, others notice. The light spreads, and before you know it, the domino effect has taken place and everyone else has caught the same vision and is on the path to a redeemed life.

Forgiveness and Faithfulness

This movie illustrates the value of looking deeper inside of people and finding the good. It looks at showing mercy to those who might not deserve it instead of judgement, forgiveness instead of wrath, and the beauty of restored relationships.

A Walk to Remember (official Web site)

Comments? E-mail me.

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