Sunday, May 20, 2007

Jesus Camp

I enjoyed watching this movie about how contemporary evangelicals conflate particular political ideologies with theological truth and ecclesiological practice and I believe that the claims that the filmmaker suggests (through interview, sermons, montage and counter-testimonial) truthfully reflect the reality of many evangelicals, but I found the construction of the film to be disappointing and contrived, which may, troublingly, allow some viewers to dismiss the other merits.

The selection-of and attention-to the main characters worked well: these characters (Becky Fisher, Levi & Rachael) were relateable, resonant and likeable; the mise en scene was nicely constructed, controlled and photographed -- except for the Washington D.C. & Colorado Springs tack-ons at the ending (which feels like a device imposed by the filmmaker) -- the camp and the church register as two coherent parts of the same world; the title and the narrative arc feel at odds with one another since ultimately the narrative threads that actually occur at Jesus Camp are not the spine nor the heart of this story; finally the subtly dissonant score and the counter-testimonials of Mike Papatonio seem like faithless additions the filmmaker makes in order to clarify her own opposition to Fisher's ideals and techniques