Unification News for November 2002

Video Review - A Tale of Two Planets

by Dr. Tyler Hendricks

The Blessing: Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the Marriage Rededication for 144,000 Clergy. A Review of an Andrew Davies Video

The 55-minute video, culled from hundreds of hours of footage from the 144,000 blessing campaign of last April, was a light, playful and lively piece of work by film-maker Andrew Davies, guided and supported by World CARP leader Michael Balcomb. As they are two UTS grads, Iím happy to see our alum out there being creative.

The video was nice; not boring at all and thatís remarkable to begin with. Thereís no ponderous male or solicitous female narration, and that had a lot to do with the freedom one felt in watching it. We could make our own interpretations, and not be told what to think about it. It had some very nice moments, with the lives of several campaign soldiers appearing in and out of the two-weeks of footage, sandwiched by a nice little gospel music riff.

The tale of Bishop Stallings' and Sayomi's birth of their first baby was a happy one, woven through the fabric. I loved Rev. Schanker's plea, "I need a computer," as he walked through his office. Some people walk around saying I need a cigarette like Phillip said I need a computer. David Stewart's listless "amen Ö amen Ö"; the girls on the bicycle; Stallings with a phone on each ear; Frank Kaufmann in his black leather jacket talking about his friends in Israel and India, people like Kevin Thompson in cars and on sidewalks in general was good; the office shots were great. Frankís theological discourse was a smooth way to bring in that subject matter; Phillipís putting his jacket on in the hotel was just so cool as he testified about something. I remember the putting on the jacket; the testimony, I forget. That tells you something about me, perhaps, but also about how movies work.

I loved the gospel choir in Las Vegas; the bowing in the mosque and the intense Muslim with a serene Ron Pine. Dr. Kenyattaís recollections of Malcolm X. could have comprised an entire hour. The walking in and out of churches, hotels, elevators and airports was real. Real life is good and nice to see once in a while.

Levy Daugherty's ongoing commentary was excellent, especially about the slave experience of Christianity, mixed with the shots from the Detroit church service; Sayomi's "he told me that I'm going to be his wife" was so pretty. I was left asking, yeah? and then? But there she is, just pregnant, and we know. The shot of Taj Hamad looking so dignified and graceful on the stage in Indonesia was a personal hit for me, otherwise the overseas footage was a subject difficult to treat; I don't know if it worked but I don't know what else Mr. Davies could have done.

There could have been more Rev. Jenkins and Dr. Yang, and don't say we didn't want central figures because Bishop Stallings was all over it and he's a central figure. I wished the camera had spent some time walking around with them. It's just that they defined the event in such a major way. It would have been nice to hear one of them preach the grand providential vision, cut with shots of the actual simple, small, mom-and-pop events.

Also some footage of True Father speaking at East Garden would have been nice. We love the feeding of the fish and photo matching; they were excellent, but show only one side of Father.

The cut-ins from the 50-city tour and other blessings didnít quite move with the groove. We can replay that scene from the 2,000-voice MSG choir only so many times, no matter how great it is. Now we have a 2-voice choir, Raoul and Lali, and you had a fine vignette of them. I felt that the movie should have become more intense, with mostly shorter bytes at the end, building to a climax, but instead it seemed to stretch out with longer segments. Maybe too many hands spoiled the broth?

The protesters at the Blessing are another difficult subject to treat. What you did was fine, but their presence was so out of context, as if they were from another planet. We viewed two planets here in the film. Will the real planet Earth please stand up? The film is a big step forward in our movement cinematography and an enjoyable flic. But if you used this approach for a movie on Jesus, the viewer would never be able to understand why he was crucified. Will there be, can there be, a movie that explains why? Filled with blood, sweat, tears and the weight of Godís awesome, anguished historical heart? That brings to two planets together? In the meantime, we will be happy to see Dr. and Mrs. Kenyatta taking their stroll down the Harlem street, a blessed couple quietly, unobtrusively uniting race, nation and religion on their way shopping.

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