Movie (dvd) Recommendation:

Ithaca is based on the book, The Human Comedy, by William Saroyan, who lived in my hometown of Fresno years ago. Set in 1943, the movie focuses on a high school-aged boy named Homer. His father has passed away, although unlike the book, he (Tom Hanks) shows up, but only Homer’s mother (Meg Ryan) can see him.

It’s the height of WWII, and Homer’s older brother, Marcus, serves in the army. Homer also has an older sister named Bess and a 4-year-old brother named Ulysses. Now that Homer is the “man” of the family, he takes a job as a messenger at a telegraph company. His first telegram begins, “We regret to inform you….” Homer is so upset when he delivers the telegram that the mother of the fallen soldier has to comfort him.

Homer is a boy of deep feelings and great determination, and we watch him grow into a man as he continues to bring joy and sorrow to people through these telegrams. The other characters add to this depth as they also struggle to make sense of a world at war. One character in particular shows up when you least expect him, creating a bittersweet yet hopeful moment.

The movie captures both the heartbreak of war and the hope of a generation who believed they could make a difference. Life was slower back then, and the movie may not be fast-paced enough for all members of the family, but I think many of you will appreciate this very genuine story. The book is short and easy to read, so that also might be a good choice.

Yours in Christ, Pastor Lisa

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