Friday, October 06, 2006
Jesus Camp: a review
JESUS CAMP tries a fly on the wall approach. No obtrusive narrator. Keep the cameras on their subjects, and let them show and express themselves however they wish to. We meet several kids, mostly home schooled, as they eventually attend a camp run by Becky Fisher that teaches them more about the Bible. And how to preach in mass. They get to learn how to be part of God's Army by smashing coffee mugs with the word "government" on it. And how to have tape placed over their mouths, with words like "Life" on them. They get taken to Washington D.C., and are almost like little weapons. Pastor Fisher talks about how Islamic kids are taught in camps how to kill, and we see how she will use these American kids in a similar manner. As borderline tools. We see kids isolated from not only culture, but from most people. These blank slates get to pledge themselves in the fight against Abortion.
We meet some of the kids, fear for them and how they're being raised. A little girl talks about how she enjoys dancing, but has difficulty seeing the difference between dancing for God and "dancing for the flesh". How a girl knows the difference, or what is the difference as she perceives it, we can only wonder. A boy talks about how glad he was to find Christ at 5 because he wanted more out of his life. At ten or twelve I could buy a kid making a statement like that, BUT AT FIVE!?!? I had to see it to believe it.
The kids are cute, but passionate (programmed?) in their fervor.The sequence where they idolatrize a cardboard cutout of President Bush hit the audience the hardest into a gasp or silence. Touching, praying, bursting into tears, as they're being told about this Warrior of God. Oy vey. The audience at the sold out AMC Empire also gasped when we saw one home schooled child being taught how there's no such thing as global warming, and that Science has never proven anything. I guess no one has ever been sick there . . .
The directors try to show that not all Christians are this extreme, with the framing device of radio host Mike Papantonio. It doesn't completely work, until the end when he interviews/confronts Fisher; she doesn't come off well in the interview.
You get to see the kids' innocence slowly going out the window. It would be interesting to see the kids in 5-7 years. If a film screams for continuation in the 7 Up, 14 Up, 21 Up etc. method, this is it.
I can see why some Christians feel this is an attempt to demonize all of them. The film makes only a minimal effort to differentiate. But it appears the directors covered this particular group accurately, with minimal if any, interference. I don't know where they got the stat that 75% of home-schooled kids are Evangelical. I'd like to know where they came up with that. And the ending, a LITTLE heavy handed, to say the least. But overall, this a compelling must-see.
Below are 2 links; one of the films website, and the other is a link to an ABC news report involving the movie (about 3 minutes long).