Cameron Takes a Monumental Journey
- Susan Ellingburg Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2012 3 Mar
Release Date: March27, 2012 (live one-night event in select theaters); March 30, 2012 (limited release)
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Run Time: 80 min.
Director: Duane Barnhart
Actors: Kirk Cameron
You know right away this is a film designed to make you think because during the opening sequence the camera keeps cutting back to shots of Kirk Cameron’s “deep in thought” face. Fortunately, the content is actually thought-provoking—offering a not-often-seen perspective on early American history.
“Everybody’s telling me the world’s going to hell,” Kirk says. He goes on to muse that many of his Christian friends think this is awesome because they see it as a sign Jesus is coming back soon—so the worse things get, the better it is. But is that really the attitude God wants us to have? Are we supposed to wash our hands of our nation and just let it go? Or should we climb out of our handbasket and do something to stop the downward slide? It’s a passionate speech with a rocking soundtrack, the first of many in this video history lesson/call to action.
In an attempt to find out what made the United States a great nation in the first place, Kirk goes on a journey to retrace the steps of “the people who built this country”—and takes us along for the ride. Before it’s over his journey takes him to England, Holland, New England, Washington, D.C., and even Texas.
First stop: England. Kirk meets up with a pilgrim expert and discovers the pilgrims were the religious radicals of their day—and their goal was not to shake the English dust off their feet and leave forever. The idea was they would regroup and come back to evangelize England. But first, they had to overcome a series of setbacks including getting swindled, prison, poverty, and more.
This is all quite interesting stuff, and the video images add a lot to the story. One quibble is the way each section ends with swelling orchestra overlaid by dramatic repeats of the high points we just heard moments earlier. “The storm abated…” “They had to put the children to work…” and so on. It’s reminiscent of bulleted highlights at the end of a chapter and is, frankly, just a wee bit hokey.
On to Holland then back to England before finally making it across the Atlantic to Plymouth for a discussion of the Mayflower crossing and the early settlement. FYI, most of the “discussions” in the film consist more of alternating monologues than actual conversation. That does change a bit when Kirk (and another expert) visit “the largest granite monument in America,” found in a Plymouth neighborhood.
About this monument: some viewers may be skeptical that a statue holds the secret to the “strategy of liberty” and the explanation of its meaning does smack of a National Treasure movie or even the plot of a Dan Brown novel. Regardless, the points made are good ones and the camera gives a much better look at the monument’s detail than anyone can hope to get in person.
Then to Texas: there’s a collection of early American documents there that gives lie to the idea that our founding fathers didn’t want the Bible in schools—and this time “founding fathers” doesn’t refer to pilgrims but to Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and the like. If that’s not enough to get conservative viewers riled up, there’s a stop at the gates of Harvard Yard to point out how far the famous university has come from its spiritual roots.
Finally we get to Washington, D.C. where a bunch of people turn up to talk with Kirk. They make excellent points, but unlike the previous experts/guests are not identified. Are we supposed to just know who they are? It’s distracting and the camera work gets spastic here, as if they’re eager to get it over with. Still, as history lessons go, Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure is a good one and more engaging than most.
Monumental will be shown as part of a one-night event on Tuesday, March 27, at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT/5:30 p.m. MT/8:00 p.m. PT (tape delayed). The special in-theater event will also include live performances from popular Christian music artists.
- Drugs/Alcohol: None.
- Language/Profanity: Hell is mentioned as a literal place, not as profanity.
- Sex/Nudity: None.
- Violence: Some discussion of imprisonment, punishment, etc. as related to both pilgrims and their dealings with Native Americans.
- Spiritual Themes: The call to action is clear: Christianity came and created liberty, which was the framework for the ideas that followed. The responsibility for freedom is in our hands; we’ve got the game plan, and we suffer consequences when we stray from it.