Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #12

Re: 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)

I am pro-life, have always been and will always be pro-life. At age 17, I went to Romania as a Friendship Ambassador with our youth orchestra in 1979 (I was very poor; this trip cost me $35.00 as part of a government-sponsored program). So … I could not wait to see 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days when I heard about it on Al Kresta’s program.

This movie certainly captures the struggles of poor women in a country behind the Iron Curtain under the Nicolae Ceauşescu regime. However, I do not understand how this was a great film and more importantly, it seems to promote the idea pro abortion advocates champion in their on-going litany and rhetoric to “keep abortion safe and legal.” I believe this film helps the other side and should not be promoted by Catholics.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, from a particularly informed perspective.

I don’t think 4 Months means to be either “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” Like other films of the Romanian new wave in cinema, “4 Months” brings great compassion but also great objectivity to a personal story with public implications. The value of telling the story is implicit in the story itself, and the filmmakers trust the audience to evaluate what has happened and to draw their own conclusions.

It is certainly possible to draw a pro-choice moral from 4 Months. Undeniably, if a legal abortion had been an option, the girls would not have faced the nightmare they did that day. That is simply a fact, and as pro-lifers I think we can and indeed have to face and acknowledge that.

On a deeper level, though, I think that the dreadful circumstances of the abortion in 4 Months allow the film to lay bare a human tragedy that would have been masked and hidden by a “safe and legal” abortion.

Only because this abortion happened the way it did were Gabita and Otilia confronted with the naked horror of what they had done. Gabita’s wish that the fetus be buried expresses an awareness of its dignity and claim on her compassion. That it was in fact tossed down a garbage chute is a dreadful thing they must live with, but a “safe and legal” abortion would have treated the fetus with the same ignominy while cloaking the reality behind a facade of clinical professionalism.

The very title of the film indicates a refusal to focus solely on the crisis of the girls: There is another victim here, and the movie knows it. The lingering shot of the dead fetus lying on the tiles of the bathroom floor speaks for itself. 4 Months acknowledges the human tragedy that has occurred, and gives that tragedy a face. While it is not deliberately “pro-life,” it is truthful, and if the truth is on our side, that’s enough.

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