I watch a movie a day, like that nourishing apple, all my molecules fixed onto the screen. I crave a story and a visual representative of what I hope will be glorious and profound and take me away. But I stay to read the credits, lists of people who worked on the team with international names to make art together.
At a recent showing of the film Noble at his Reel Talk series, Stephen Farber interviewed cinematographer Trevor Forrest. The young, talented Brit lives in NYC on a visa as a result of winning the Independent Spirit Award for Una Noche, a Cuban story. He spoke eloquently about the process of filming Stephen Bradley's biopic -- the inspirational Christina Noble who has used her own personal crises to forge her colossal calling. Three pivotal stages of her life are depicted in the film: her abusive, poverty-etched Dublin childhood during which she was abandoned by her drunk father; a gang-rape in her teens that left her pregnant with a child sold off by the Church; then, in an iteration of misery, she married a man turned violent, abandoning her with three sons to raise. Desolate, she dreamed about Vietnam one night. Then, witnessing the televised news coverage about homeless orphans ignited a profound epiphany: she must save them. She flew to Ho Chi Minh, lived in a shack, volunteered as a school worker, and began her fundraising mission, a growing call to action. Single-handedly, she has rescued children, one by one, now counting over 700,000 saved orphans in South East Asia. Creating a foundation by her persistent persuasion of businessmen in Vietnam to join her, she has built more than 100 boarding schools to house, feed, and educate these orphans. Hers is an outsized story of an outsized woman with the odds, staggeringly against her. Still living up to her name at 73, Noble continues to follow her passionate pursuit to transform the lives of others. In the process, she inspires the hero within us, too.
To tell this terrifyingly great story, Trevor Forrest has been privileged to collaborate closely with writer-director Stephen Bradley. Forrest's fine arts education as a portrait and landscape photographer shines: haunting flashbacks in different tones and moods for each of the three segments of Christina Noble's life -- the 1950s, the 1980s, and present day. The three stages of Christina Noble's life have been portrayed by three different actresses photographed as if one person. To capture the blighted landscapes of Dublin and of war-torn Vietnam, he used Fuji film and lenses authentic to each epoch in order to realize a refined shorthand, one that stirs our hearts and memories to bring us deeper into this remarkable story.
According to St. Benedict, "To work is to pray." The film, Noble, is a transcendent prayer.
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