Within the past two weeks, my siblings and I got to see the Polycarp movie!
(available as DVD on May 5th 2015!)
We were interested partly because we know many of the people involved with this film project, and partly because historical accounts such as these are so important to remember.
I must admit that I experienced some fear of going to see a Christian film because I can be rather critical of the typical badly-filmed poorly acted homeschool family film.
Imagine my relief and excitement when I immediately found myself immersed in the movie, with no qualms at all about the quality of the production!
We all agreed that this film accurately and respectfully portrayed the life and death of Polycarp.
Polycarp (AD 80-167) was one of the earliest martrys. A student of the apostle John, Polycarp served as the bishop of Smyrna. Tertullian testifies of Polycarp's discipleship with John, while Saint Jerome wrote that Polycarp was a disciple of John and that John had ordained him bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp was martyred at an advanced age for refusing to burn incense to the Roman Emperor. He was burnt at the stake and then, when the flames did not end his life speedily enough, stabbed to death. A famous quote from the martyr is:
"Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong"
Since there are so few details known about the daily life of Polycarp, Henline productions created several fictional characters, specifically a slave girl ''Anna'' around which to weave the story. The whole film beautifully emphasizes God's amazing love and grace as the family in the story actively demonstrate God's love by opening up their hearts and home to the young slave girl.
It makes a wonderful family film which will open up hearts and lead to important conversations particularly with young children. On that note, I will assure you that this movie kindly avoids gore and extreme violence. The scenes in the ampitheatre are surprisingly well-done with the horror of the moment being represented yet there is nothing you would want to hide from a child younger than 8 or 9.
Other aspects we loved about the movie include...
-Sets/props were accurate; excellent portrayal of ancient Smyrna (our family loves history and are used to critiquing films)
-Believer's worship gatherings were realistic and well done (you know how awkward it is when you're watching a film about believers in ancient times and they use terms from the 21st century? Not so in this film, thankfully!)
-Gary Nation who played Polycarp did a great job!
-Eliya Hurt, although not a professional actress played her main role of ''Anna'' delightfully
-The score by Benjamin Botkin was absolutely beautiful. I loved how he incorporated traditional instruments into the music to give it a perfect Greek feel.
-The horror of the amphitheater was hinted at without there being any gore whatsoever
-I recommend this movie for ages 8+
-The cinematography of this film was especially pleasing. Beautiful color tones and filming.
As for those necessary critical thoughts which I'm sure you want to hear since there is no way this movie can be absolutely perfect...
-We didn't care for the actor (Gary Bosek) who played the evil Quadratus...but he was a bad guy, and nobody's supposed to like them right? We just found his acting talent lacking.
-The mother (played by Ilse Apestegui) is sweet but a little overdone in the film. However,this probably won't bother most people since a lot of actresses posing as mothers in films are like that.
-There are some amateur actors of course, but not unbearable.
-Although I prefer slower-paced films over fast-paced, I did find that this movie was a little long (slow) but it wasn't meant to pass as an action or adventure film, so one can hardly criticize it for that. And I did watch it at the end of a full Sunday so I was probably tired.
In conclusion, your family can't go wrong with getting this movie and watching it together! You will be moved and blessed by it.