PG for thematic elements
including suggestive material and mild language
October 7th, 2005
Drama and Musical/Performing
Boris Kodjoe, Idris Elba,
Nona Gaye, Clifton Powell, Aloma Wright, Donnie McClurkin,
Omar Gooding, Tamyra Gray, Hezekiah Walker, Keshia
Knight Pulliam, Delores Winans Yolanda Adams, Martha
Munizzi, Fred Hammond
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By Elliott Ryan
The Gospel, an indie movie, finished in fifth
place at the box office on the weekend that it was released in
spite of the fact that it was shown in less than half as many
theaters as most of the other movies in the top ten. It also had
a much lower advertising budget than the other ranking films.
Now, The Gospel is available on DVD.
The film is a modern day retelling of Christ’s parable
of the Prodigal Son. A preacher’s son named David Taylor
and his friend Frank are training to become ministers as the movie
begins. After a tragedy, David falls away from his family and
his church and becomes a famous musician. He lives the high life
and enjoys the “perks” often associated with being
young, rich and famous.
His friend Frank chooses to continue to follow his calling in
the ministry. David’s father hires him as an assistant minister
at the church. When David’s father becomes ill, Frank is
named as his successor
As you would expect, news of his father’s illness is enough
to bring David back home. He leaves his concert tour to spend
time with his ailing father in what may be his last few days on
earth. Once back at home, David must decide whether or not he
wants to be involved in the church he turned his back on as it
faces a crisis of leadership. Very few movies have ever portrayed
the inner workings of a church. But here we see it all –
staff meetings, disagreements with denominational boards, and
power struggles among people trying to become church celebrities
and committed believers who want to honor God through the church’s
ministry. It is this world in which David will be asked to become
a participant once again.
The movie progresses in pretty much the exact way that you would
imagine it would from the details listed above. I have left out
much of the storyline details. But there aren’t really any
surprises. Of course, it really has to be that way for the movie
to follow the plot of Christ’s parable. The movie’s
senior pastor represents the father in the parable. David, the
ministry student turned music star, of course represents the prodigal.
His friend and fellow ministry student Frank represents the good
son who remained at home. And the story evolves similar to the
way Jesus told the original version in Luke 15:11-32.
In addition to a story you know, you might also hear some songs
with which you are familiar. In fact, music, more than acting
or writing, may be the main draw of this film. Prominent Gospel
musicians such as Yolanda Adams and Fred Hammond sing along with
the choir in rousing renditions of praise songs. In fact, Gospel
star Kirk Franklin was instrumental in writing some of the original
music appearing in the film.
The Gospel is mostly good, clean family entertainment.
However, while David is living it up as a musician on tour, viewers
are confronted with a few minor curse words, an implied extramarital
sexual encounter, a bit of drinking, and a few scantily-clad back
up dancers at David’s concert. The whole message of the
movie though is that these are things that should be turned away
from as one turns to God. Church attendance, strong families,
and even sexual abstinence are all portrayed in a positive light
by the time the movie ends.
I encourage you to see this movie. Christians often complain
(with good reason) about the lack of good, moral movies put out
in the theaters these days. When one turns up, we should put our
money where our mouth is and support it. Judging from the box
office receipts, a large number of people did just that.
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