Vengeance is Mine, Says the Lord

Left Behind co-author Jerry B. Jenkins wants a lighter 'Bedroom.'

BY: Interview by Paul O'Donnell

Jerry Jenkins Jerry B. Jenkins knows a little about film. The co-author of the Left Behind series saw the first of those best selling End Times thrillers brought to the big screen last year. Recently he has become a filmmaker himself. Jenkins Entertainment, founded with his son Dallas, released its first film, "Hometown Legend," in January. Jenkins talked with Culture producer Paul O'Donnell last week about Best Picture nominee "In the Bedroom," in part two of Beliefnet's celebration of the Oscars.

"In the Bedroom" the debut film by director Todd Field, tells the story of a couple whose son, a teenager with a promising future as an architect, is killed by his lover's estranged husband. Their loss disrupts the gentle cycles of their small-town life in Maine, and forces the couple, played by Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek, into a fierce reckoning about their marriage and their future together. Spoiler note: If you haven't seen the movie, you won't learn the ending here, but if you don't want any hints at all, best to come back after you've been to the theater.

What did you think about the way Tom Wilkinson's and Sissy Spacek's characters handle their problem?

The filmmaker did a great job of drawing the viewer into


with the parents. You understand their grief and rage and frustration with the system. Even as a Christian, I've told my wife that if you're going to break the news to me that somebody has done something to one of our kids, make sure I'm out of state, because I'll tend to take revenge and deal with it later.

But it's the epitome of a story told by somebody without a hopeful world view. These people are enraged and grief-stricken, but clearly their answer is not the answer. They compound the crime, and it gets them nothing. This picture ends on such a hopeless, devastating note. There's no satisfaction whatsoever in the deed. The kid is still dead and we're left with nothing. It's just hopeless. It's very gritty and real and beautifully rendered, but it's one of the reasons I'm a filmmaker now. Not that all my pictures are going to be sweetness and light. People are going to go through tough stuff, but.

Our first picture was released in January. It's sort of an uplifting high school football film. We enter it in competitions and then go to see the rest of the films. While we feel we've made a credible film--one Christians don't have to cringe at, or say it looks like it was made in the church basement--it look almost like pollyanna next to what some people are doing, because they are filming things so literally. They'll put a filter on the lens to film something literally darker, say about child abuse, and it ends just hopelessly.

Those are the ones that usually win the awards. This one is done so beautifully, except that it's such a downer. At one point the father's friend says you need to move out of town. If I were making this picture, I have the friend say I need to protect you from making this worse. Let's do what we have to do to make sure justice is rendered. That's a true friend, someone who would help this father to work through the grief and talk him out of ruining his life.


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