Monday, 5 October 2015

Constance - Film Review

Sometimes when reviewing it is necessary to understand the constraints that the producer of a piece of art or product may be under. I think this is the case with Constance, a film produced by the URC who are preparing for the centenary celebrations of her ordination and acceptance into ministry in the next year or so.

When watching this Kevin Snyman film I was disappointed at how short it was, expecting something much longer which covered more of the remarkable Constance Coltman’s life and work. Yet, I understand the film makers have done the best they can under difficult circumstances.

Watching this film about the first woman to be ordained as a minister in an English mainstream religious denomination I was struck by the impact this woman had. However, the impact shown at the beginning was that she had upon the great and the good. I would have liked to have seen a condolence letter written by an “ordinary person”. Part of the reason for this is I had the privilege to hear talked of warmly by a now deceased member of her congregation, a man who had been ministered to by Constance and Claude in Wolverton (near Milton Keynes). Unfortunately there was no mention of her ministry there, even in the credits.

What this film did was show the strength of character it took for her to be accepted for training. Within this short film I find it most interesting what it says about call and how she had to show her call was beyond her gender yet God was also calling her in a significant way because of her being a woman in a situation which excluded women.

What I had not been aware of prior to watching it was her pacifism or her links to the suffrage movement, the latter of which of course would have been there but which I had never picked up upon previously.

I was caught between being pleased and frustrated that the hook for the film was her relationship with her husband Claude. Somehow turning this into a mini chick flick based around their love story seemed inappropriate for a feminist film, yet their relationship was pivotal to their ministry which was in many ways a joint ministry.

This is not a film about one woman though. It is a film which shows she had a prophetic voice and which is seeking to talk into our current situation.

I would therefore recommend you watch this film which is available under a Creative Commons licence and then share it, as long as a not for profit basis. Constance’s story is one which should be shared and celebrated not forgotten.

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