A Walk to Remember (Warner Bros.) is based on a tear-inducing novel by Nicholas Sparks (author of Message in a Bottle). Young evangelical pop singer Mandy Moore portrays Jamie Sullivan, a straight-laced, brilliant, and ostracized preacher's kid in a small North Carolina town. In its opening scenes, A Walk to Remember feels like just another movie in which thrill-seeking teen-agers behave moronically. Soon enough, however, Jamie is exchanging misty glances with Landon Carter (Shane West). The class nerd and the class thug discover a love for one another. Peter Coyote delivers one of the finest performances of his eccentric career, portraying Jamie's strict but emotionally generous father. One moment, in which the main characters gather in a church, is reminiscent of the breathtaking Communion scene from Places in the Heart. A Walk to Remember is a quiet but remarkable film.

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The Magic Never Ends: The Life and Work of C.S. Lewis (Crouse Entertainment Group/Duncan Group) will appear on various pbs affiliates during 2002. This one-hour documentary is heavy on transitional shots from the lush countryside of Great Britain, as if the title were C.S. Lewis and the Landscapes He Loved to Walk. But it also includes engaging interviews, ranging from Lewis scholar Lyle Dorsett of Wheaton College to actress Debra Winger, who portrayed Lewis's wife, Joy Davidman, in the film Shadowlands. It does not shrink away from topics like Lewis's complicated relationship with Janie King Moore, the mother of a comrade who died in World War I. The Magic Never Ends is not a definitive video biography of Lewis. Nevertheless, it discusses his Christianity without any politically correct throat-clearing. For those who do not wish to wait for PBS, the video is available for purchase ($19.95) on Duncan Group's Web site (www.duncanentertainment.com/movie_lewis.htm).

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The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It (Independent Television Service) is scheduled for PBS stations on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday (Jan. 15). This documentary, subsidized by peace-movement celebrities such as Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, depicts pacifists who took their convictions so seriously that they declined to fight in World War II. Pacifists went to federal prisons, volunteered at mental hospitals, and assisted public-works projects rather than take up arms. The most dramatic story in this film is that of Lew Ayres, a handsome, popular actor (several Dr. Kildare films, All Quiet on the Western Front), who served as a medic in the Pacific theater, tending to the wounded on both sides. No one could accuse Ayres of being unwilling to die for his nation—but he wasn't willing to kill for it. The Good War paints too broadly, leaving the impression that nearly all Americans supported the war with blind loyalty and that McCarthyism preceded Joseph McCarthy. But in one poignant moment, a man describes how a prison warden softened his tone and expressed his respect for his pacifist guests. In a time when it's again easy to endorse any military response to the savagery of terrorists, The Good War provides a necessary reminder that pacifists also can be heroic and patriotic.

Related Elsewhere

The official A Walk to Remember site includes trailers, photos, and background information on the film.

The Duncan Group's Web site has a brief profile of Lewis, the introduction to the book The Magic Never Ends, and an online store where you can buy the book, video, or soundtrack.

The official PBS site for The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It has plenty of resources related to the documentary including an overview of the story, a history of pacifism in the U.S., a "talkback" for viewer opinions, and an account of post-war contributions by conscientious objectors.

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