You can get the movie here: Holy Ghost
So I recently watched this movie and this is my review of “Holy Ghost” (Should either my grammar and/or spelling be lacking, you will forgive it of me)
First off, I think I’m a fairly plugged in fellow but I knew nothing about this film at all until it appeared in my Facebook feed as an upcoming event. I was immediately wary of it, because if I had a “Dances with “Wolves” type name it would be “Rains on Parade”. When my personal Red Flags go up I always hope to be proven wrong but it never works out that way.
So, if you want to save your self some time from reading my lengthy review (aka diatribic ramblings)…it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting but it still wasn’t good in any way either.
The Holy Ghost film bills itself thusly: “Holy Ghost is a feature film documentary that follows filmmaker Darren Wilson as he travels the world attempting to make a movie that is completely led by the Holy Spirit. At times challenging, but always uplifting, Holy Ghost reveals a God far bigger and more active than previously thought.”
Well, right off the bat you have a hyperbolic statement that the film is going to reveal “a God far bigger and more active than previously thought.” and the trailer makes the arrogant claim that they are going to “make God famous”. Hyperbole and arrogance aren’t exactly great starting points for your Holy Ghost movie guys, OK?
So the movie “Holy Ghost” basically consists of a bunch of “Talking Head” and “Man On The Street” interviews. The talking heads are various church/ministry/other leader types and also Lenny Kravitz and Michael W. Smith espousing opinions on the nature of The Holy Ghost. None of which really stuck with me, except Michael W. Smith who said his music may have touched many lives but he’s not sure it’s had any impact on the culture at large. There’s a more interesting movie in that one statement than in this whole movie.
Anyway, the talking head interviews are pretty standard fare if you’re a christian, lots of “relationship not religion” and “stepping out in faith”, your basic christianese speak. I had some issues with some of what was said but most of it was just kind of “meh”. The interviews and thereby the movie, doesn’t really dig deep biblically/theologically/historically on the nature of The Holy Ghost. It glosses, it skims but there’s no meat on these bones. It’s really about everyone’s feelings about The Holy Ghost, not really about The Holy Ghost Himself. Christian’s “Feelings” are the downfall of Christianity. Get yourself a biblical foundation my fellow Christians and stop feeling so damn much, but I digress…
OK, so, my main issue with the movie is the man on the street interviews, which is supposed to be the Holy Ghost led heart of the movie. They basically consist of the filmmaker and his team going up to people and talking to them and asking to pray for them. Which is perfectly fine except for the fact that they almost immediately start guessing at possible ailments of the person they’re talking to. “Do you have back pain?” “How about knee pain?” “Something wrong with your shoulder?”. It just reeks of the worst Psychic charlatanism. (See: Cold Reading) Once the filmmaker team has something to work with they immediately start praying about that. There’s lots of “Do you feel that?” and commanding The Holy Spirit for “More!” As if The Holy Spirit is hooked up to some kind of machine and He’s running back and forth turning dials and pushing buttons trying to get the elusive “More”.
Once they’ve prayed over these people with their fairly minor issues they stare at their subject with a wild eyed enthusiasm probing for confirmation of The Holy Ghost’s divine healing and almost all of the people they’ve prayed over have this kind of bemused, playing along expression on their faces. One guy near the end of the movie has an actual look of genuine surprise on his face after someone prays over his bad knee. Everyone else just looks like they’re being nice. Maybe the filmmakers were just too focused on their narrative, or have really bad emotional IQ’s but when the majority of your movie consists of people amusing you…well, that’s probably not a good thing.
I seriously can’t state enough how much these interviews bothered me. Did you ever see one of those David Blaine specials where the dead-eyed magician does some random card trick and people freak the hell out? This is the exact opposite of that. Basically the movie presents people receiving supposed divine healing being 100% less enthusiastic than anyone who ever had the soulless lich Blaine pulling the King of Hearts out of their neck folds. (FunFact: I went to High School with David Blaine. He was a turd pickle but he wasn’t a dead-eyed lich back then)
The movie culminates in the city of Varanasi, which it claims is “the oldest city in the world” except for the fact that a simple Wikipedia search disproves that, but OK. So, the filmmakers, having been “led by The Holy Ghost” go to Varanasi where both Hinduism and Buddhism dominate. There’s a big set up of the danger of preaching Christianity there and how bold what they are doing actually is and how they could be straight up killed and their bodies dumped in the Ganges River and they get there and…not a whole lot happens. They sing some songs, do some praying. They say at some point someone tries to grab the singer’s guitar but they don’t catch that on film for some reason. Once they’re done with the signing and praying they ask their guide? Protector? The guy that keeps the marauding band of Ganges Body Dumpers off their backs? to take them to his temple, because hes’ the high priest of the monkey god (If the “monkey god” had a name the film didn’t provide it) Instead he takes them to the temple of Shiva, One of the main gods of Hinduism, because he’s also the High Priest of Shiva too! A high priest of multiple gods? Must be hard during holidays.
So a big deal is made about how amazing it is they are going to be able to go to the temple of Shiva and they get there and a guy tries to grab their camera but they say their with multi-high priest guy and they’re left alone and then they…walk through the temple and film people worshiping Shiva. They don’t pray, preach or sing about God, Jesus or the film’s namesake while walking through the temple of a false god and then the movie just kind of ends.
The movie that was supposed to reveal “a God far bigger and more active than previously thought” ends with people in bondage to a false god and the filmmakers doing nothing but walking right on by those people. That’s going to “make God famous” all right.
Unless of course the “god” that’s far bigger and more active is actually Shiva. Well then, bravo, what a twist!
- The very first guy they walk up to, the very first one, claims he and his friends slept in a graveyard once and has been haunted by spirits ever since. The filmmakers don’t question that at all. Look, I have no problem believing evil spirits roam the Earth. Jesus was casting them out of people here and there throughout the Gospels but I’m pretty sure you don’t sleep in a graveyard and “catch evil spirits” like they’re a cold or something. He had to have been involved in something before he snoozed in the cemetery but the filmmakers don’t probe past his initial statement at all. It’s almost as if they care about curing the symptom and not the cause.
- Twice one of the praying guys says something to the effect that “there’s thousands of gods but”…and he goes one to say how there’s only one Holy Spirit basically. Here’s the problem. There’s not thousands of gods. There’s thousands of idols mankind has made into gods. While one could imply that that’s what the guy meant the lack of definitive clarification that there is only one singular God is disturbing to me.
- A section of the movie is dedicated to some members of the band Korn. Before one of their concerts they go out among the crowd that’s come to see them and ask if they can pray for people and, like I said before, start asking if anyone has bad legs or backs or something and this one guy says his friend has a bad back so one of the Korn guys jumps right on that and brings him over to some steps and starts praying for the guy’s healing. He grabs the guys legs and says people with back problems have legs that don’t line up or something. Thanks for the medical expertise guy from Korn. Anyway he prays for the guy and the camera focuses on the Korn guy holding the broke back guys legs and the way the guys legs are being held it looks like there’s a half inch difference between his legs and the Korn guy is praying with the “More!” and stuff and look the guy’s legs line up evenly right there on camera! It’s not like “Faith Healers” have been pulling this trick for more than a century. Nope, divine healing! Afterwards, the “healed” guy looks both confused and extremely high.
- Look, I absolutely, positively believe in divine healing and since the filmmakers both believe in it, and believe themselves capable of it, how much better of a movie would it have been if they walked into a burn ward or a children’s hospital and healed those people right there on film? Wouldn’t that, above and beyond anything, “make God famous”? Instead we get parlor tricks and people kinda, sorta saying maybe they’re healed? Great job!
- The one thing I was hoping for was a follow up at the end of all the people that were prayed for throughout the movie. What happened to them since? What’s different now? But the film can’t be bothered with that. All throughout they talk about how The Holy Spirit led them to this person and how that led them to another person and how that led to them to this place but at the very end when they can literally tie it altogether into some kind of definitive narrative about The Holy Ghost..they just don’t.
- Several people in the movie, maybe more, refer to The Holy Ghost as just “Holy Ghost” and/or “Holy Spirit”. They purposely drop the “The”. I’ve heard it before and it drives me insane! There is something about it that makes a clarion bell of falseness ring in my head. The Spirit of God is not first name “Holy”, last name “Spirit”! Not only is dropping the “The” grammatically wrong (“I had tea with Queen of England today.” Ugh, no!) but dropping the “The” is basically dropping the singularity and uniqueness of THE Holy Spirit. If, as established in the bible, that there are other spirits on the earth. Then it goes to say that any spirit can call itself “Holy”, but only the one true divine being that is The Holy Spirit can call itself THE Holy Spirit! Stop doing it!
Ok, that’s all I got. If you read all this you deserve a cookie! I’m sure the filmmakers had good intentions and I’m not really questioning anyone’s motives or faith when it comes to making this movie but I think there’s way too much misguided enthusiasm and way too little grounded theology displayed throughout the film. It’s a thumbs down for me Roger.
And who am I? I’m just a guy with a blog who writes and draws comics and this is The Internet!