Chocolat (released in 2000) is the story of a chocolatier who upsets the rigid morality of a rural village in France during Lent. By movie’s end, we affirm that giving up chocolate for Lent is easy. It’s the deeper attitudes and prejudices and dispositions of our hearts, however, which we ought to be focusing our attention. (And, then, there’s the whole notion of Lent waking up our dormant, God-given passions!)
Like Les Miserables, the storyline is populated by Judeo-Christian archtypes: the wind of the Spirit, a Christ figure, broken “sinners” whose biggest “sin” is their brokenness, a Pharisee,… Christian as the worldview of the film may be, its truths are friendly for all and universal. (There are ways that my non-religious and nominally religious friends might enjoy it more, in fact—for all the ways it jabs at the foolishness of organized religion. Many of these folks, you see, love Jesus. They just can’t stand his “bride,” the Church [or, at least local expressions of it]! Have to admit, I can often understand where they are coming from!)
A few years ago, I produced a video using clips from the movie—highlighting the meaning of Holy Communion. By tweaking it (with legalistic scenes/characters in black in white and graceful scenes in color), I added my own touch: hopefully adding to the message that God’s hope and plan in the Gospel and in Holy Communion and in Easter is to call us from our black and white existence into a full color experience!
I hope you’ll enjoy this venture in “visio divina” or “cinema divina.” I encourage you to secure a copy of the larger film and have a movie night with your family or small group. It’s bound to stimulate some meaningful conversation! (Discussions guides abound out there, by the way — including this one from Union Presbyterian Seminary, entitled “Chocolat: Questions for Theological Conversation.”)
[Chocolat, by the way, is an example of the kind of films we engage in the Exploration which is “Reel Theology: Focused Discussions at Intersection of Hollywood and Divine.”]