‘Noble’ – A Film Review
Many years ago I read an inspiring book called ‘Bridge Across My Sorrows’ by Christina Noble. It documented the astonishing life of this feisty and fearless Irish heroine who survived and overcame a traumatic and brutal childhood in Ireland, to become a champion for children’s rights in Vietnam. When I saw that the life of Christina Noble had been made into a film, I jumped at the chance to go and see it. I went to see this film last night with my friend Kirsteen McLay, editor-in-chief of The Forever Years Blog. She worked in Vietnam for many years and once had a long conversation with Christina Noble over the telephone and she also met her son.
The film Noble’ was a difficult yet inspiring and hopeful watch. Like most books that have been made into films, many details are left out. But the film does a pretty good job of documenting her life, jumping from poverty stricken Dublin in the 1950’s to Birmingham in the 1960’s and Ho Chi Min City in the late 1980’s. Christina Noble’s childhood was as difficult as that of the Vietnamese children she later sought to help. ‘An Irish gutter is the same as a Vietnamese gutter’. She was one of five children born into a poverty stricken Irish Catholic family. Her mother was loving, but she regularly saw her father come home drunk and become violent, clearing out a room. Her mother died of tuberculosis when she was still small and after the bereavement her alcoholic father was unable to cope. The children were subsequently split up and placed into separate institutions, run by cruel and abusive nuns.
At the age of seventeen she was turfed out onto the street where she made her home for awhile. Alone and vulnerable, she was attacked by a gang and became pregnant as a result. She was moved into a convent for the remainder of her pregnancy and when her baby Thomas was born, he was given up for adoption by the nuns without her informed consent. Several years later she moves to Birmingham with a friend where she meets and marries a man and has three children. Her husband turns violent and they separate. She spends much of her early adult life coming to terms with the absence of nurture and protection in her traumatic childhood and adolescence.
The second half of Christina Noble’s life was the better half. This tenacious woman had several God-given dreams throughout her life about going to Vietnam to help children there, and at the age of forty, this dream becomes a reality. She gains a permit to work for three months and sets to work establishing a home for street children. Miraculously she gains a longer work permit and acquires the sponsorship from business contacts to enable the home to grow. It is now known as The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation and it has helped more than a million children and their families throughout Asia, by providing them with food, shelter, healthcare and education. Noble is a compelling watch about the capacity of the human spirit to overcome adversity and to love others well. She had no one to love her throughout her life, yet she knew the love of God, and because of this revelation, she was able to overcome her anger and resentment about her past, to go on and change the world. Superbly acted, this heart wrenching film demonstrates that it only takes one person to make a difference. Christina Noble still talks to God.
For more information about The Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, please see: http://www.cncf.org