Film footnotes

Film footnotes

There are Unitarian Universalist angles to four prominent movies this season.


Movie-goers, have you noticed all the UU-adjacent films lately? Sure, none of them mentions Unitarian Universalism, but there’s a UU angle to each.

Film still image from UU Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird"

Lady Bird (© A24/Everett Collection)

© A24/Everett Collection

Critical darling Lady Bird was made by Greta Gerwig, who featured her childhood UU congregation, the UU Society of Sacramento, California, in her previous film, Frances Ha.

UU World interviewed Gerwig in 2013; three young ministers discussed Lady Birdand Unitarian Universalism in 2017.

The Greatest Showman turns the story of circus impresario and huckster P.T. Barnum into a musical. Barnum was a devout Universalist and a funder of Tufts, the Universalist-founded college.

Film still image from the movie "The Greatest Showman".

The Greatest Showman (© Niko Tavernise/Twentieth Century Fox Film)

© Niko Tavernise/Twentieth Century Fox Film

In 2003, Hank Peirce exploredBarnum’s Universalist connections forUU World.

The Post dramatizes the government’s fight with the Washington Post over its publication of the Pentagon Papers; the government also came after the UUA’s Beacon Press, which published the complete text in book form.

In 2001, Warren Ross retold the story of the FBI’s attempts to seize UUA bank records after Beacon Press published the papers. In 2006, Allison Trzop explained why she found Beacon Press’s courage to publish the report so inspiring; her Master’s thesis is “Beacon Press and the Pentagon Papers.”

Film still image from the movie "The Man Who Invented Christmas".

The Man Who Invented Christmas (© Kerry Brown/Bleecker Street)

© Kerry Brown/Bleecker Street

The Man Who Invented Christmas depicts the penning of A Christmas Carol, which Charles Dickens wrote during his Unitarian years.

In 2006, Michael Timko highlighted Unitarian themes in A Christmas Carol, which Dickens wrote after joining a Unitarian church in London, which he did after his visit to America, where he met Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Ellery Channing.