The Inn of Sixth Happiness
Awhile ago I wrote an entry about our Geography studies that we are doing this year. Part of those studies include reading a biography of a missionary from the area we are studying.
For the month of March, we have been reading about Gladys Aylward from the Christian Heroes:Now and Then series. Gladys’ story is an amazing one. Even though she was turned down by the missionary organization, she still felt that God had etched China on her heart and she must go. The amazing adventure/trial she had just getting to China was amazing enough, but the story continues in it’s amazement as she is determined to reach the Yangcheng people of China.
Doing my research for this unit, I came upon this movie at our local library. I’m always excited to find movies and or documentary type things for school because one of my princesses is a visual learner and it helps her remember and retain information.
The movie is almost 2 hours long, so we broke it up between two days.
Now this movie, as stated on the back of the DVD, is adapted from the novel “The Small Woman.” Seeing that we read a different book, some of the discrepancies may have been actual truth, just not given in our book.
First and foremost, I was a little disappointed that they did not show more of her struggles in actually reaching China. It was in these struggles where I think you learn about her determination and desire to follow God’s leading. Also, the movie seems to water down the TRUE meaning of why she is there. She is known more in the movie as the one who loves all people rather then the one who shares God.
BUT, don’t let that deter you from sharing this movie with your family. There are some wonderful parts where she is truly seen trusting in God and where the Yangcheng people see her as ‘protected’ by her God.
Part of our schooling in watching this was for my girls to compare the movie with the book. They will write a comparison paper at the end of the week. This way they enjoy getting a break from ‘regular’ school stuff, but I can get them to pay attention more, knowing they have to write something about it.
Below is a synopsis that I found at Wikipedia. All in all I can’t say it’s a very accurate retelling of Gladys’ life, but it IS a good family film and I would definitely recommend it for a family movie night!
The Inn of Sixth Happiness
The story begins with Aylward being rejected as a potential missionary to China because of her lack of education. Dr.Robinson, the senior missionary, feels sorry for her and secures her a position in the home of a veteran explorer with contacts in China. Over the next few months, Aylward saves her money to purchase a ticket on the Trans-Siberian railway, choosing the more dangerous overland route to the East because it is less expensive.
Once in China, she settles in the town of Yang Cheng, where she secures a post as assistant to a veteran missionary, Jeannie Lawson (played by Athene Seyler), who has set up an inn for traveling merchants, where they can get a hot meal and hear stories from the Bible. The film follows Aylward’s acculturation, culminating in her taking over the inn when Lawson dies in an accident.
The local mandarin appoints Aylward, a stubborn but endearing woman, as his Foot Inspector to ensure that the ancient practice of foot binding is eradicated in the region he governs. She succeeds in this, and manages to put down a prison revolt as well, winning her the esteem of the local population as well as of the mandarin. Meanwhile, however, China is being invaded by Japan, and Aylward is encouraged by Lin to leave. She refuses, and as the town of Yang Cheng comes under attack, she finds that she has fifty orphans in her care.
As the population prepares to evacuate the town, the mandarin announces that he is converting to Christianity as a final tribute to Aylward. Aylward is overcome with emotion, but is now left alone with the children, aided by Lee, the former leader of the prison revolt that she helped to resolve (played by Burt Kwouk). Lin tells her that the only hope for safety is to take the children to the next province, where trucks will drive them to safety, but they must get there within three weeks, or else the trucks will leave without them.
Just as they are preparing to leave, another fifty orphans appear from a neighbouring town, so Aylward and Lee have no choice but to lead one hundred children on a trek across the countryside. Although it should only have taken them a week, the roads are infested with Japanese patrols, and the group has no choice but to cut across the mountains. After a long, difficult journey, they all arrive safely (except for Lee, who gave his life to save them from a Japanese patrol) on the day the trucks are to leave. Aylward is greeted by Dr.Robinson, whom she reminds how he rejected her as a missionary years before.
The film culminates with the column of children, led by Aylward, marching into the town, singing the song “This Old Man” to keep up their spirits.