The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

jane seymour pimpernelDisguised hero of the French Revolution falls in love with Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.


My mom frequently tried to get me to watch this film as a kid, but I just couldn’t get past how closely a “pimpernel” seemed to resemble a “pimple” in my mind. Throw in the scarlet imagery associated with those word cousins and my discomfort was just too much. Still, being the reasonable fellow I am, I compromised by watching Daffy Duck in The Scarlet Pumpernickel.

I eventually came around, though. In fact I read the book just a few years ago while my wife and I were on a cruise for our honeymoon. I remember we’d quite enjoyed reading books on the deck of the ship with the light ocean breeze enveloping our literary lovers’ paradise until one night at dinner when one of the couples with whom we were dining casually commented how comical it was that some people on the ship had taken all the effort to get on this fun-filled cruise ship only to spend their time reading on the deck. My wife and I awkwardly looked at each other then responded, “Wow, really? That is so lame. Who would do that? What a bunch of losers…”

scarlet pimpernel movieBack to the movie: The Scarlet Pimpernel stars Anthony Andrews (whom I’ve never seen in anything else), Jane Seymour (our friendly neighborhood medicine woman), and a young Ian McKellen, whom most of us would know better today as Magneto or Gandalf the Grey.

OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: Apparently *some* movies about the French Revolution include a guillotine. This one isn’t too graphic, but I should warn you that you will get a few gruesome glimpses of mobs celebrating their executions. Holding up decapitated trophies, participles won’t be the only ones dangling.

The Scarlet Pimpernel’s greatest disguise was himself. To society, Sir Percy Blakeney appeared to be the flamboyant fool who cared more for fashion than politics. In reality, his crafty exploits proved instrumental in saving innocent aristocrats from bloodthirsty mobs during the Reign of Terror.

Sometimes, as the Scarlet Pimpernel, we must be seen as a fool in order to carry on the work of the wise. Morally speaking, that means we must be willing to appear as out of touch with the “new order” of thinking and endure the revilings of society for adhering to what many perceive as outdated principles.

But there are more good people in this world than we sometimes realize. True, only a few are willing to speak up and defend what is right in the midst of popular wrongs, but they are there nonetheless — men and women who, imperfect as they may be, are still loyal to the King of kings.

“We are fools for Christ’s sake…being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it.” 1 Corinthians 4:10,12

***A friend just shared a great quote with me from Anthony Andrews: “My greatest fear is losing touch with God. I am in constant dialogue with Him. My grandfather was a priest and I served at the altar as a little boy. I have a long history of being on the cusp of Catholicism. I pray a lot, especially when those fogs of life descend. It helps me to keep a positive attitude in a negative world.”

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