ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to parents and grandparents

The Basket (1999), (PG)
CAP Score: 86
CAP Influence Density: 0.26

June 24, 2000 Correction
Previous: Final - 85; CAP ID - 0.27
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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Table of Contents.

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NOTE: We make no scoring allowances for Hollywood's trumped-up "messages" to excuse, or its manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth. If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is purely objectuve and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.

If Scriptural references appear in the Summary / Commentary, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.


The Basket (PG) -- two more points and it could have been a low-end CAP "G."

A story of two German children, Brigitta (Amber Willenborg) and Helmut (Robert Karl Burke) orphaned by World War I being cared for by a pastor in 1918 Spokane, Washington during the war. Not a good mix for people who suffer prejudice as did one of the fathers in the small town who lost his son to the war at the hands of German soldiers. Maybe a statement was being made that Brigitta and Helmut are just kids who had nothing to do with the war and suffered its consequences just like everybody else (they lost both parents to it and were taken out of their homeland because of it). Maybe the movie is a reminder of how far we have come regarding prejudices as you should soon see.

Some elements in this movie I found disquieting: the daughter blaming herself for her father's death and the consuming contempt for the kids by the father who lost his son to the Germans; a public school teacher presenting curricula which infiltrated and modified moral standards of the community.

In Germany, as Brigitta and Helmut were being led out of immediate war danger by their father, Brigitta remembered she had forgotten a precious necklace belonging to her dead mother. Ignoring her father's commands to stop and return to him Brigitta ran back to get it, delaying their escape. Once together again, the trio encountered an American soldier who shot and killed the father. Now, both parents are dead due to the war, but the writers had Brigitta blaming herself for her father's death; that she caused his death by defying him which delayed their escape. To that I say though her defiance of her father's commands was a sin [Prov. 6:20], if she hadn't had delayed a moment or two maybe she or her brother or all of them would have been killed. I have a problem with movies portraying such a burden on kids, especially in "kid's shows" when kids (which includes teens) seem to be the most vulnerable to implantation of behavioral templates and sympathetic miseries. Think not? An Associated Press (AP) report of an Okaloosa County, Fla 5-year old boy carrying a loaded semi-automatic .380 gun to school in his book bag because "he had seen someone carry a gun in a book bag on TV and thought it was cool" might help your perspective [3 John 11].

Public school teacher, Martin Conlon (Peter Coyote) with a shady past enters the picture to save the day with music and basketball. Conlon saw some fractionation among the community and decided to try to unify them with a very new sport called basketball. He fashioned a hoop from a bushel basket (thus the story's name), hung it on the schoolhouse wall, and taught the boys to play basketball to refocus their energies from the war-driven miseries, including the prejudice against German-born Helmut [Prov. 18:3; Ps. 119:22]. In the eyes of many, Helmut (and his sister to a lesser degree) represented the enemy -- the ones killing American boys on foreign soil. And leading the pack in hatred of the German-born kids was the father of a boy killed by the Germans -- a tough situation in which to be, but nonetheless, the kids had nothing to do with the soldier's death. Conlon was relatively successful at softening the prejudices with basketball, but when he used an opera song, Das Boot (a German opera) as a teaching tool, things got a little strange as the whole town gets into the story passed on to the parents through the kids -- as infectious as a soap opera and just as influential. Das Boot, being about fighting war aggression, presented topics not suited for kids: sex, murder, defiance, rebellion, suicide and more. And, of course, to provide "enlightenment" of the town's people, the writers had them accepting of the corrupting curricula. All but one, anyway -- the leading "bigot" of course. And the "ammunition" packed by the warfare opera surfaced by refocusing a little the town's attention from racial differences to the realities and insanity of warfare aggression. While eradication of prejudice is indeed a good thing, must we sacrifice our time-honored values and even forsake the Scriptures to do it [2 Cor. 11:3]? And there was a lie told to do good [Is. 5:20]

In the end, Helmut was given 'redemption' as he glowed in a basketball game with a "professional" team, as he revived the leading bigot's ailing farm tractor, and as he saved an epileptic boy from serious injury and possible death. And Brigitta fell in love with a town boy. How much more does it take to show the world that one's ancestry of vicious aggression does not necessarily make one an aggressor; that kids are precious no matter what race they be and no matter what their countrymen did or do [Ps. 79:8].


  • Prov. 6:20 My [child], keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching.
  • John 11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
  • Prov. 18:3 When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach.
  • Ps. 119:22 Remove from me scorn and contempt, for I keep your statutes.
  • 2 Cor. 11:3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray...
  • Ps. 79:8 Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.
  • Is. 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

    Please see the Findings/Scoring section below for a full accounting of this movie: for the best representation of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


    NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • warfare killing
  • firearm threat

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • mischief - binding a man inside an outhouse
  • cruelty and hatred because of race or heritage
  • defiance of father's commands
  • urination in the open
  • allowing budding romance to cause defiance of rules
  • public school teacher presenting inappropriate material in a one-room schoolalleg
  • shallow justification for defiance
  • a lie to do good

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • none noted

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking
  • drinking

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • one use of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive
  • wife's defiance of husband and using cheap shots to do so

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted (remember, warfare killing is included in violence)

  • (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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    Thomas A. Carder
    ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

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