Went to see the above-named movie with several friends from church Saturday evening. It’s well worth your time and the price of admission. A caution: much like the movie Passion of the Christ, this is not escapist entertainment. It makes you think. As with that other movie, I noticed there was very little conversation as people left the theater.
Several things impressed me about this production. First, much of what Paul says is drawn from the various letters he wrote in the New Testament — either verbatim or by paraphrase. You get the sense his dialogue is intended to be close to the spirit and heart of the man being depicted. Second, while the movie is nowhere near as graphic as the Passion of the Christ, it does not shy away from highlighting the very real persecution and martyring of the Church in the time of Nero. (The PG-13 rating is a good guide for age appropriateness.) But it does so in a way that provides a reminder of the encouragement we have in Christ even when facing death at the hands of others. A closely related third, the Christians of Rome are not cardboard saints. They wrestle with how to respond to such wanton evil being inflicted on them. Without giving spoilers, I’ll say it was refreshing to see that not everyone made perfect “Sunday School” choices.
Which brings me to a final point. A pitfall of many “Christian” movies is a desire to tie everything up neatly: the antagonist repents, there is miraculous deliverance, and so forth. This movie manages to avoid that. I won’t get more specific so as not to ruin it for others, but suffice to say while the film concludes in a very appropriate manner for the story it is telling, it leaves open the question of how some characters’ futures resolve.
The best compliment I can give the movie is to note that before we went separate ways Saturday evening, our group agreed it could drive some discussion in our Bible study Sunday morning. (I should note we’ve been in Paul’s letters for a while now, so the movie’s release was very timely). Much like the Visual Bible films of a few years ago, this movie provides a way to look at familiar scripture through a different lens than the written word alone. I find myself hoping more such thought-provoking films will be made — movies that demonstrate a respect for scripture even while carefully filling in historical blanks.
This one is worth your support.