I wanted to see Paul: Apostle Of Christ, the movie, in theaters, when it released in May. I’m glad I waited to view the DVD.
Why am I glad I waited? I’m an ugly crier. I made it almost to the end, before I was a blubbering mess. Then I had to go back and watch the closing two scenes I had been crying too hard to fully appreciate the first time. You can’t do that in the theater.
Paul: Apostle of Christ is presented in my very favorite genera. It is based on known solid facts and accounts of real people, and researched cultural realities of time and place, woven together with “could-have-been” fictional people and plot lines. This film’s retelling of the final years of Paul’s life, and Dr, Luke’s endeavor to write an account on the Acts of the apostles, seems faithful to the historical and Biblical realities that marked this significant period of early church history.
Paul (Faulkner), who goes from the most infamous persecutor of Christians to Christ’s most influential apostle, is spending his last days in a dark and bleak prison cell awaiting execution by Emperor Nero. Luke(Caviezel), his friend and physician, risks his life when he ventures into Rome to visit him. Paul is under the watchful eye of Mauritius (Martinez), the prison’s prefect, who seeks to understand how this broken old man can pose such a threat. But before Paul’s death sentence can be enacted, Luke resolves to write another book, one that details the beginnings of “The Way” and the birth of what will come to be known as the church. Their faith challenged an empire. But their words changed the world.
Kudos to the entire team responsible for lifting this story from the black and white pages of Scripture, and challenging our minds to move beyond the cobweb corners of dusty history books, in order to better grasp the lives of the first generation that was called to live for Christ without ever having see Him in flesh. While this movie is fantastic for any adult interested in history and/or the Bible, I believe it could especially benefit (older) middle school, high school, and college students, who are seeking an emotional understanding of this period of history. Please be aware that the PG13 rating is well merited. While the majority of the goriest depictions, such as Christians fed to wild beasts in Nero’s circus, or the beheading of Paul, are only alluded to, while visual portrayal is left to the imagination, there are some rather gruesome scenes.
The movie opens (and similar scenes continue throughout the movie), by portraying the horror of “Roman candles,” human beings doused in oil and mounted to stakes to be burned alive, as light for the streets. Another potentially stomach-lurching sight, illustrates injuries Paul obtains via flogging. There are several instances of verbal abuse and physical violence played out. The directors did an admirable job of balancing enough details to let viewers begin to understand, without showing more than needed to convey the idea, but this is absolutely not a movie suitable for young children!
The story-lines are intricate and detailed. Especially with many scene set in dark environments like a dungeon, and less-than-optimal hearing capability on my part, I had to watch the film twice to start grasping some of the nuances. Being well-versed in the Scriptural side of the story, and relatively familial with the historical context, many cultural and fictional elements of the script took three plays before I felt I had a good grasp on story line. I do not see this as a fault of the movie-maker, rather I mention to let you know that this isn’t a light movie to be played in the background while your focus is divided. It is a real thinker’s movie. I expect to discover missed details and glean deeper understanding every time I watch it again.
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY:Andrew Hyatt
PRODUCED BY:T.J. Berden and David Zelon
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS:Eric Groth, Rick Jackson, Harrison Powell and Jim Caviezel
STARRING:Jim Caviezel, James Faulkner, Olivier Martinez, Joanne Whalley and John Lynch
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I did receive my DVD copy for free, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.