Movie Clip Discussions

Hart's War

Dynamic Image

(MGM, 2002)

Main Point of Discussion: His sacrifice leads us home.

The Movie Clip: “You are willing to exchange your life for theirs?”

Easter is an especially great time of year for us to remember Jesus' death on the cross. Every year at this time we regret where we have fallen short and every year at this time we reflect on His sacrifice.

Hart's War, staring Bruce Willis and Collin Ferrell, is a great movie about honor, bravery and sacrifice. Set in a German POW camp during World War II, this movie helps us understand what sacrifice means.

Introducing the Clip:
Today I want to show you a clip from the movie Hart's War. Colin Farrell plays Lt. Thomas W. Hart, a young WWII officer with a cushiony job, who while on a routine delivery is ambushed, taken prisoner, tortured and sent to a POW camp. There he meets Col. William A. McNamara (Bruce Willis), a fourth-generation solider whose toughness is rivaled only by his cleverness.

The Americans continue to fight the war from behind the fences and plan an escape to destroy a nearby munitions plant. Every perceived act of rebellion by the prisoners is met with extreme retaliation. The Germans execute random prisoners for discipline, discouraging any attempts to escape. A murder in camp, a mock court marshal and racial tension provide them the chance to set a plan into motion. Everyone, especially McNamara, understands and is willing to accept the consequences for an escape attempt.

The stage has been set, the players are in place, and the trial is nearing its end. McNamara and 34 men are escaping while Hart delivers his closing arguments. Even though he is innocent, Hart confesses to the murder, willing to sacrifice himself. This leads to the Germans discovering the escape attempt.

Let's watch the dramatic ending of Hart's War.

Scene Script:

BEGIN CLIP AT 1 hour, 51minutes and 59 seconds.

    Visser: I want every man…who participated in the court-martial…removed from the line. Line them up. Line them up. Now.

    Hart: These men knew nothing, Colonel.

    Visser: Line them up! You will be the first.

    Hart: These men knew nothing.

    Visser: You will be the first!

    Hart: Colonel, they knew nothing!

    Visser: So, your men are saboteurs as well?

    McNamara: No, Colonel, they're just soldiers. They were following my orders. I assume complete responsibility.

    Visser: That's very noble of you. Seems you've won our duel after all, Colonel.

    McNamara: No. We both lose, don't we?

    Visser: Yeah. And now you wish to trade your life for theirs?

    McNamara: Yes, I do.

    Visser: Very well.

END CLIP AT 1 hour 56 minutes and 38 seconds. (Please note: there is a graphic scene of violence right after this clip, please be prepared to stop it at the appropriate time.)

Transitional Statement:
Our culture loves heroes. We love stories of sacrifice. We want to celebrate those who are willing to sacrifice themselves for their country, their family, for their friends and yes, for God.

In that powerful scene we see one man willing to exchange his life for the lives of his men. That kind of sacrifice may lead to medals or to movies or even to victory. But only one sacrifice leads us home.

Let's take some time to discuss the sacrifice that leads home.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let's go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we'll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we begin, tell everyone your name and your favorite Easter celebration/tradition.
  2. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Let's go around a play High/Low real quick… tell us your high and low point of the day.
  3. ASK A FEW: What did you feel when you saw McNamara standing at the gate?
  4. ASK SOMEONE: Why did McNamara come back to the camp once he was out?
  5. Read the following passage:

      I John 3:16 (NIV)
      This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

  6. ASK SOMEONE: What does the passage tell us about love?
  7. ASK A FEW: What does it mean, Jesus laid down his life? How is what McNamara did the same thing? How was it different?
  8. ASK A FEW: We may never be asked to lay down our lives but¡­what are some practical ways we can show love to others? How can we sacrifice for those around us? (leader – encourage them to start small, share or give up the last piece of pizza, pick up someone's trash, etc. Then move into bigger things like sponsoring a child through Compassion or World Vision, sacrificing sports/band camp for a missions trip and even laying down our dream/money to enter full time ministry.)

    Read the following passage:

      Romans 5:8 (NIV)
      But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    In this verse we are told that while we were still jerks towards God… He chose to die for us. The reality is no one is perfect. There have been times when instead of sacrificing ourselves for others, we have sacrificed others, including God, for ourselves. There have been times when we have all been jerks.

  9. ASK A FEW: Is it easier or harder for you to make sacrifices for your friends? (leader – the answer you are looking for: they should say it is easier for their friends.)

  10. ASK A FEW: Are you willing to sacrifice the things you want for that annoying person in your gym class?
  11. ASK THE SAME FEW: What about laying down your life for that same annoying person in your gym class… are you willing to do that?
  12. Read the following passage:

      John 3:16 (NIV)
      For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

  13. ASK SOMEONE: What was the result of McNamara's sacrifice? (leader – the answer you are looking for: Hart and the other solders live.)

  14. ASK SOMEONE: What was the result of Jesus' Sacrifice? (leader – the answer you are looking for: Eternal life)

  15. ASK A FEW: What effect does Jesus' sacrifice have on our daily lives? What effect should it have? (leader – the answer you are looking for: We should be loving those around us.)

  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What is just one thing you can do this week to demonstrate your love for others?

Close Your Group in Prayer.

Wrap Up:
The story of Hart's War is a powerful and moving one. To think that a man would return to a POW camp in order to save his men, knowing he would be executed – that's an awesome story. However, it fails in comparison to the story of Jesus – willing to exchange His life for ours. He was willing to die so that we could live.

I hope today you leave with a better understanding of sacrifice. I hope you understand that sometimes sacrifice means laying down our lives, sometimes it means laying down our plans, sometimes it means picking up a piece of trash. I hope you are willing to sacrifice yourself, your plans, and your stuff for others.

Because of McNamara's sacrifice, his men got to go home; because of Jesus' sacrifice we get to go to our heavenly home.

Close in Prayer

Written by Todd Pearage


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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