Cider House Rules

Anglican Journal, February 2000 | Go to article overview

Cider House Rules


The Cider House Rules

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom Starring Michael Caine and Tobey Maguire **** (out of five) Adult Accompaniment - mature theme

"Good night, princes of Maine and kings of New England" says Dr. Larch (Michael Caine), to the boys of St. Cloud orphanage after he reads their bedtime story.

The Cider House Rules, adapted by John Irving from his novel of the same name, takes place in Maine in the 1940s.

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, this film features extraordinary performances by children as the orphans. It is, in some ways, too sunny a place for an orphanage, with Dr. Larch and his nurse assistants creating a large extended family protected from the cruelties of the world outside.

But the outside world comes into the orphanage in two ways: with parents coming round to pick out a child like one would choose a puppy, and with young women who come, seeking an abortion. Dr. Larch delivers babies or abortions, as requested, a fact which offends the orphan Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) who has to take the fetuses' remains to the incinerator to be burned.

The Cider House Rules is Homer Wells' stow. He's a teenage boy in the orphanage, he's worked as Dr. Larch's assistant; without formal medical education he's delivered babies and comforted many young mothers who have chosen to give up their children for adoption. But he draws the line at abortion -- he will not perform one, even though Larch has taught him the procedure.

Larch argues that if he does not perform an abortion, young distressed mothers will go to someone unskilled who will harm them. Homer dislikes the pressure of his role and wants to get out and see the world. When a soldier and his fiancee come to St. …

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