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There are millions of stories and thousands of films in our world. And yet, some writers say that there are only seven basic 'story plots’ – the basic shape a story takes. Every story will have one of these plots, or sometimes two. Stories help us to understand truth about ourselves and the world. Even very small children understand and learn from stories.

Alongside these ‘seven plots’, there are often ‘echoes of eternity’ in stories. These ‘echoes’ may tell us something about a deeper truth. Usually the writer of the story did not plan this to happen, but it is something people recognise as true when they watch the film.

Films: Hotel Rwanda, Sholay and ET

There is often redemption (rescue) by a main person in a story. He or she may risk their life to rescue others.

In the film Hotel Rwanda, hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina saves many people from being killed. He defeats evil and death for them. In the Indian ‘Bollywood’ film Sholay, ex-policeman Thakur Baldev Singh asks two men to help him catch the dangerous and evil Gabbar Singh. This is the start of many adventures for these two heroes, Veeru and Jaidev. In one scene, Gabbar’s men attack a village. Veeru and Jaidev need help to protect the village – and they get it from the beautiful Basanti – a brave woman they meet when she is driving a horse-drawn carriage. Later, Jaidev helps to rescue Basanti, and blows up a bridge killing most of the enemy. By doing this he dies, giving his life to save Basanti and defeat evil.

The film ET tells the story of an ‘Extra Terrestrial’ (a being from another planet) landing on the Earth. He makes friends with some children, brings healing to people, dies and comes alive again, and then returns to his own home.

Someone told Stephen Spielberg (the maker of the film), that this sounded very like the story of Jesus coming down to our world. He was very angry and said, “I don’t want to hear this.” Stephen did not believe in Jesus, even though he is a Jew, and he rejected that there could be such a parallel in his story!

When you watch a film or read a book, look for parallels like this – echoes of a deeper truth about God. You may be surprised by how many there are! Sometimes a story will also give you a strange feeling of ‘longing’ – wanting something that is just out of reach, ‘round the corner’, yet you are not even sure what it is. That is also an ‘echo of eternity’.

Maybe it is God calling you to learn something more about him and his loving plan for you.

Read more about these films

• The seven plots:

• Hotel Rwanda film:

• Parallels in E.T. film: