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Friday, April 15, 2011

The Other Side of Heaven


We've reached the end. As I was watching this film I realized that this project is coming to an end. Jamie can attest that in many ways it has consumed me this semester. I've either had to watch a film or write about a film every day of this semester. The project was honestly far too big for the class. Tomorrow I present on my findings. I'm honestly a little intimidated. There is far too much to talk about, but I guess I will get into that when I write a wrap up post tomorrow.

The Other Side of Heaven is the film that every LDS filmmaker wanted to create. That's a big statement, but after seeing all of the failed attempts and all of the successes in the LDS film movement I am certain of it. First, and foremost the film is clearly a Mormon film. There are many references to the church, both implicit (a photo of David O. McKay in the church house) and explicit (the drunk Tongan proclaiming, "I am a Mormon!").  This is what many LDS films wanted to accomplish. They wanted every audience member to realize that the characters in this film were in fact Mormon.


Second, the film taught doctrines of the church, without being preachy or overt. It seemed that al Groberg did was teach doctrine. He taught about faith, repentance, The Word of Wisdom, and chastity. Unlike The Best Two Years or any other of the missionary films that I viewed this semester the doctrines are not strictly LDS or at least not blatantly so. This desire existed in every LDS film I viewed this semester.


Lastly, the film revealed truths about LDS identity in an honest way that brought its viewers to transcend with the characters. The film is a missionary pic. This genre is unique to the LDS film movement because "missions... are a modern phenomenon with which all Church members are familiar" (Astle, 38). This film did not gloss over any of the hardships of a mission. In fact it is clearly portraying one of the most difficult missions ever served. The story presents all of the "culture shock, foreign languages, homesickness, departures, homecomings, and letters—all components of accented cinema" (Astle, 38) in an authentic manner. With these trials we see a change in Groberg. We see him literally take on the culture of those he served. When he comes home we don't know whether or not to be happy that the love of his life waited for him or to cry because the other love in his life (Tonga and its people) are no longer a part of his life.


This is a feeling that is typical of Mormon missions, something that is not explicitly brought up in any LDS to this point. It is the point at which missionaries understand what their mission really was for two years. It is the most important transcending moment for each Elder or Sister. It is the realization of the common identity of man.


Which has been your favorite LDS film I've talked about during this project? Do you feel I am right in saying that this film is "the film that every LDS filmmaker wanted to create"?


Film Information
Works Cited

2 comments:

  1. I think I'll have to agree. This is the best LDS film I've seen so far. While other movies are entertaining for LDS's they sometimes they dont really reach to people outside of the religion without getting preachy. This film, in my opinion, certainly does reach out. Not only is it entertaining, but it is enlightnening, its not cheesy, its heartwarming, and its down to earth.

    I can think of one other movie that is comparable, and that is Charlie. Though that one is super sad.

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