After almost a year, we're back with another written movie review! While we will continue reviewing movies every other week on our podcast, we will also be reviewing Christian films on our blog and on our Youtube channel.
When one thinks of silent films, they normally think back to the early 1900s, when movies were in black and white, had very grainy images, and the only concept of dialogue was slides with text interspersed throughout the film. However, in the late 20's and into the 30's as "talkies" or talking pictures became the newest and greatest form of visual entertainment, silent movies slowly faded away. With various exceptions like The Artist (2011), silent films are nearly non-existent in an age where big explosions, high-res graphics, and controversial language are the keys to selling tickets. What's even more rare than a silent film is silent Christian film. While the past few years have brought us a slew of new Christian media, few have dared tread into this difficult and seemingly obsolete area of filmmaking.
That's what make this film so unique.
The Good Book, released on February 2nd, goes off in a completely different direction than your average Christian film, attempting to tell a feature-length story completely without words. The whole film is accompanied solely by a musical score, not uttering a single word until a few testimonials during the credits.
First off, look at the pros of creating a silent film. Without having any dialogue, it negates the need for a lot of audio equipment. You don't need many of the traditional equipment pieces, such as a microphone, wind muff, boom pole, recorder, several cords, and so on. It takes a lot of different pieces to add sound to a film, both in production and post-production. Removing sound from your film makes it much more affordable and allows you to spend your budget on other places. Besides being cost-effective, it also transcends language barriers. While the majority of films need to be dubbed in other languages in order to reach an international audience, a silent film is understandable in any language. This way of breaking down a language barrier is also a wonderful ministry tool, as it really does work in almost any community, regardless of what language is spoken therein.
This film does an amazing job of utilizing these benefits, but unfortunately, it does also have a few problems. While a silent film may have worked for this particular story, acting in a silent film is exceedingly difficult. Actions in this movie had to be done very obviously in order to communicate what was transpiring in the film to the audience. Something as simple as a child sneaking out his bedroom, having his flashlight fail, and him resorting to a match and candle instead are all acted out very awkwardly and unrealistically. If it were acted out more realistically, however, the audience might have missed out on what was happening in front of them.
This was my main complaint with the film. While I was excited to see something different from a Christian film, I was a little disappointed to see how it was executed. What sounded like a great idea on paper did not translate very well into a finished product. The story is very simple and one-dimensional and the lack of dialogue didn't allow for very much depth or substance. The story also plays out in a serial-like timeline, focusing on one story for 10 minutes, then moving on to a completely different story for the next ten minutes. Rather than having the same characters throughout the entire movie, we were introduced to a completely new cast of characters every 10 minutes or so. This was rather jarring and kept me from getting very attached to any one character.
I want to be clear and say now that I don't disagree with the content of the film. I do believe that the Bible is powerful and very moving. I've seen God's Word impact many lives in my own experience and I strongly believe that it is 100% valid and the true Word of God. I was glad to see that this film had respect for the Bible and it was good to see it get some well-earned respect and praise.
While this movie may not have been the highest quality or told the most compelling story, I do commend the producers for trying to do something that has never been done before. As I mentioned above, I think it's amazing that they're trying to transcend the language barrier and make a film that is easily accessible to anyone from any background. There were some genuine moments and I did enjoy watching it. If you are tired of the "Christian film formula" and want to check out something a little bit different, I would wholeheartedly recommend The Good Book.