The Widow and Judge is a short film from the Modern Parables series. For my Sunday School class I played the film one week and then the application video the next week. This film, like all the other films before it, did an excellent job provoking discussion about some critical topics.
Modern Parables is a film series put out by Compass Classroom, and like the other films in this series, The Widow and Judge does not fail to disappoint. Based on Jesus’ parable in Luke 18:1-8, the film vividly portrays a prejudiced and corrupt judge and his unwillingness to hear the case of Hannah, a poor black widow. Filmed in black and white and set in a small southern community in the 1970s, the film captures the difficulties a poor widow must endure just to get her case heard. Like Jesus’ parable, the widow’s persistence eventually wears down the judge’s reluctance, and her case is brought before the court.
Jesus used this parable to teach his disciples about the importance of persistence in prayer.
What I Liked
- The style of the film helped the the viewers to identify with the original parable.The Widow and Judge is filmed in the style of Robert Mulligan’s 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird. This almost iconic scene of prejudicial treatment helped to frame the old parable in a new light, showing the imbalance of power that is part of Jesus’ original parable. Even Hannah’s persistence is reminiscent of 60s-style civil disobedience: a fitting parallel to the widow in Jesus’ story.
- The film shows the inner struggle of prayer in unique ways. This short film shows a series of flashbacks from earlier in Hannah’s life, back when she was a school teacher. This not only adds color to Hannah’s character, but also shows how echoes from Hannah’s past help to inspire her persistence in the present. Hannah is also seen, at times of stress, using an inhaler, tapping into the symbolism of prayer as “breathing.” These creative additions to the story provide great conversation-starters about the difficulty of persistent prayer.
- The acting in this film was fantastic. Of all the films, this one had the most talented actors and actresses. Joanne Morgan‘s portrayal of a tired but relentless widow is very believable. J.D. Parker plays the judge; his gruff, resonant voice and his ability to capture both rage and indifference was very enjoyable to watch.
What I Added
- I felt the eschatological context of the original parable needed more explanation. Luke 17 frames the original parable as not just a teaching about prayer in general, but a teaching about prayers for vindication and judgement. The persistence Jesus is talking about in this parable is the patience and fortitude to keep praying for Jesus’ return.
- Our class discussed another common hindrance to prayer: belief in God’s sovereignty. Whereas one hindrance to persistent prayer is delay, another hindrance is a false understanding of God’s sovereign will. If God knows what I need and has already promised it anyway, why should I pray for it? This became a rich, albeit off-topic, discussion for us.
Buy the DVD
You can purchase the DVD at the Compass Classroom store.