With people are so caught up in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, this is probably the best time to go back and take a quick look at another Bible based movie, Left Behind. The film, which is based on the book series by Tim LeHaye and Jerry Jenkins, was produced in 2000 and leaves that other religious venture way behind.
Lehaye and Jenkins elevated the story to considerable fame in 1995 when they published the first of their 12 book series. Since then, they have published ten more books for the series and sold about 55 million copies, making these books the most purchased Christian literature to date, excepting the Bible. And though the cinematic adaptation of the series does not live up to the repute established by the books, it sure makes for a better movie than Passion.
The movie, which Director Vic Sarin wanted to remain true to the books, begins with television reporter Buck Williams (Kirk Cameron from Growing Pains) interviewing an Israeli scientist. The scientist, Chaim Rosenzweig, played by Colin Fox, has just discovered a chemical formula that allows the growth of wheat in deserts. Just as Williams is interviewing the scientist, an all out aerial attack unfolds before them and Buck lives up to his reputation as a world-renowned journalist, covering the incident skillfully. With that attack, just a minute or two into the film, the movie immediately embarks on its rapid, action-packed pace.
Soon the religious aspects of the film come into play, as people mysteriously disappear, supposedly due to prophesies in the Revelations, which say that after collecting his believers, God will leave non-believers on Earth for seven years to wait for Jesus Christ and the Judgment Day. This movie (there were others that continue the series) focuses on these disappearances and the beginnings of the rise of the Anti-Christ, who is revealed to be UN Secretary-General Nicolae Carpathia, played masterfully by Gordon Currie. As the drama unfolds and the plot grows more and more complex, viewers are left mildly surprised that the Bible could have provided so much of the plot for such a modern, action-filled film.
And that is exactly where the strength of this movie lies, its riveting plot line. The "end of the world" idea is not interesting by itself. The idea needs a certain twist, be it setting, be it scripting, that spruces it up and makes it exciting. In Left Behind (this goes for the books as well) this distinction is the setting and plot development. An ancient, biblical prophesy is brought into the real world and presented so plainly that it needs nothing else to be compelling. And even though a sermonizing movie is always somewhat dubious, Left Behind does not preach in the traditional sense; it takes the realities of the world today and puts them in a biblical sense, providing instead for a pretty interesting, some would say science-fiction-like, story.
One can fault the actors and screenwriters in Left Behind. Except for Gordon Currie, the actors in this movie come across as a bit phony, detracting from the realist effect that the director is obviously working to establish. Of course the actors are not solely to blame, the screenwriting is maddeningly simple, which no doubt detracts from the realism of this film.
As Christian blockbusters go, the original Left Behind is an unprecedented feat. This movie holds its own separate niche in the genre and is unique in its ability to rivet audiences by injecting biblical themes into a modern world setting. If for nothing but excitement and the novelty, this movie is a must see.
Left Behind is rated PG-13 for violence.
Kedamai Fisseha. Kedamai Fisseha sorely misses the computer lab where Silver Chips was born and is daily reborn. He is currently living and writing from London, England where he is glad for the chance to continue his participation in the organization. More »