Friday, October 08, 2010

The Least Among You...Disappointing

Who doesn’t like a movie where good triumphs over evil?  I love a movie where the hero stands strong in his convictions despite great opposition.   That’s why I selected “The Least Among You” from Book Sneeze.  Based on the movie’s description…I thought the movie would be inspirational. 

After the movie ended my husband Chris turned to me and said, “I’m glad that I don’t have to review that movie.”  I wasn’t eager to write my review on “The Least Among You” because overall the movie was disappointing.

The movie is based on a true story of Richard Kelly (Cedric Sanders) who was arrested following the Watt’s riots in 1965.  Richard was accused of assaulting a police officer and decided to serve probation instead of fighting the charges.  His probation was to be served out at an all-white seminary near Los Angeles.  As the only black student, Richard encounters prejudice from both students and professors.  The seminary’s president Alan Beckett (William Devane) encourages Richard to break through the racial barriers until his actions threaten the schools financial backing for a media center.  Samuel Benton (Louis Gosset, Jr.), a gardener at the seminary, befriends Richard and encourages him through many trials.

Some of the performances in the movie were good, in particular Cedric Sanders and Louis Gosset.  The most interesting characters were the gardener Samuel Benton (Louis Gossett, Jr.) and his wife Bessie Benton (Starletta DuPois).   They demonstrated the most Christ-like characteristics and seemed to have a living faith that had transformed their lives. 

However, I find fault and take issue with the movie’s screenplay.  Most of the Christians in this movie were portrayed as corrupt, or bigoted, or lying thieves, or greedy and lacking in faith.  They seem like a caricatures, rather than real people. 

The seminary’s president was greedy and corrupt and many of the professors were ignorant and prejudice.  A former missionary Kate Allison (Lauren Holly) seemed like a caricature of liberated women in the 60’s and throughout the movie she was smoking and drinking.  Worse yet most of the characters at this seminary, professors and students alike, seemed to be devoid of anything resembling true faith in Jesus Christ.  Why any of them were at the seminary is a mystery. 

The movie was provided to me free through Book Sneeze as part of their selection for Christian bloggers.  After watching this movie, I’m not sure what would qualify it as a “Christian” based movie.  Not only was the movie disappointing, but it was also offensive to me as a Christian. 

In my opinion the alternate theme of the movie can best be described as the “dangers of going to a liberal theological seminary”.  In the movie, the miracles in the Bible are called into question and attributed to being nothing more than allegories, and truth is said to be relative.  Rather than sharing the Gospel message that salvation and forgiveness of sin is found in Jesus Christ, the movie’s message is centered around a social gospel which promotes change. 
 
The movie never fully explains what happened to the former missionary to cause her crisis of faith.  Also it left me wondering what happened to the seminary president's wife who appeared to have suffered some type of mental breakdown.  I wanted to know what led to the president’s downfall and corruption.  Was he ever a “man of faith” or was he just running a business?

Because this movie is “based on a true story” it’s hard to know what’s true and where writer/director Mark Young took literary license.  Based on the screenplay I wanted to ask Mark Young if he personally knows any Christians? 

I would not recommend this movie.  Spend your time and money elsewhere on something that is in keeping with your Christian faith and values and gives a faithful presentation of the Gospel. 

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