Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Movie is not The Gospel

Apparently, the buzz around town is how well the movie The Gospel did over its opening weekend. I, myself, have not seen it. However, I have had several friends, including my wife, who have seen it and have only confirmed what I knew would be the story. Having read several reviews and watched the trailers, the movie is as billed, "sound and fury signifying nothing. "The Gospel" is a movie that tragically fails to live up to its name. It is called "the gospel" but you are left wondering what the gospel is. Then again, it does capture the essence of most churches today. When you attend churches reminiscent of the one portrayed in the movie, you leave those places wondering the same thing, "What is the gospel?" In light of this, I found the following review in the Atlanta Journal Constitution most revealing:
Shot on location in Atlanta, "The Gospel" is a preachy soap opera about Saturday night and Sunday morning. The movie's melodramatic musings about the line between the secular and the sacred are set to a soul-stirring soundtrack produced by contemporary gospel superstar Kirk Franklin and featuring performances by the likes of Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams and Delores "Mom" Winans.
That's its greatest appeal, even for those who've never set foot inside an African-American church. But in his retelling of the story of the prodigal son, writer-director Rob Hardy ("Trois," "Pandora's Box") never gets to anything like the depths of the gospel moans and shouts he celebrates. In fact, when the music isn't pounding in sanctified syncopation, the look and the dialogue of "The Gospel" are a lot like what you might see and hear on daytime TV....Hardy has plenty of opportunities to examine the foibles of the current crop of theatrical "prosperity" preachers. But that's clearly not his purpose, as time and again he goes for easier, cliched images --- juxtaposing liquor bottles and leather-bound Bibles, hip-hop bump-and-grind and dancing in the spirit. And with all that, Hardy's sure to please his target audience, even if he's only preaching to the choir.
The key phrase in the review is "a preachy soap opera." The dialogue is trite, predictable, and unimpressive. This movie is nothing more than the unfortunate demonstration of what most of our churches have become, a frolic of entertaining, choreographed, human-centered performances. This movie is a glorified series of videos with the purpose of selling a sound track. If you like modern gospel music, you may overlook the poor theatrical elements and enjoy the video. If you are interested in a movie that delivers what this one promises, that is "the gospel," you will be sorely disappointed. But something tells me that most people go to this movie with the same hope they go to church every Sunday, to be entertained. More's to pity.


jazztheo said...


there is a good series of posts on the gospel over at
it's worth checking out.

ajcarter said...

Thanks JT. Those post are quite interesting, as are most of the comments originating from those in the Emergent Church. Interesting.

homo unius libri said...

You hit the nail on the head. We have replaced repentance with recreation. Most people choose a church today for its entertaiment factor. Woe to the pastor who falls into that trap...

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Gospel Music said...

kirk franklin revolution lyric visit that page some audio bible ....good info....really enjoyed this
blog...keep up the good work