Faith, Media & Culture

Faith, Media & Culture


Movie review: “The Christmas Candle” shines bright

posted by John W. Kennedy

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

YouTube Preview Image

In the tradition of A Christmas Carolcomes this film adaptation of Pastor Max Lucado‘s bestselling book The Christmas Candle opening in over 400 theaters this weekend.

Synopsis (from the film’s website): Deep in the heart of the English countryside lies the enchanting village of Gladbury. Legend has it every 25 years an angel visits the village candlemaker and touches a single candle. Whoever lights this candle receives a miracle on Christmas Eve. But in 1890, at the dawn of the electric age, this centuries old legend may come to an end.

When David Richmond (Hans Matheson), a progressive young minister, arrives in Gladbury, the villagers discover a new formula for miracles: good deeds and acts of kindness. While David’s quest to modernize Gladbury sets him at odds with the old world candlemaker, he finds an unlikely ally in the lovely skeptic, Emily Barstow (Samantha Barks). Now, the fiery candlemaker must fight to preserve the legacy of the Christmas Candle. But when the candle goes missing, the miraculous and human collide in the most astonishing Christmas the village of Gladbury has ever seen.

Review: There’s no doubt Christmas stories always seems a bit more Christmasy when presented with British accents — particularly when their period pieces set in quaint olde villages like Gladbury. So, right off the bat, The Christmas Candle warmed my heart with memories of Christmases past. Better still, the film actually delivers is traditional story with a rather enlightened sensibility.

I like, for instance, the relationship between the idealistic-but-doubting Rev. Richmond (Hans Matheson of The Tudors) and the sassy-but-kind non-churchgoing Emily Barstow (Samantha Barks of Les Misérables). The film eschews the tendency of some faith-based movies (and this is, BTW, definitely a faith-based movie) to present ministers as all wise and those with more secular sensibilities as either villains or dysfunctional wretches in dire need of a staunch believer’s unerring wisdom. In fact, much of the emotional resonance of the story comes from watching these two good people with two distinct ways of looking at the world find their way to one another. And, yes, they both are changed along the way. And, while both Matheson and Barks give strong star turns, Barks glows particularly, aided perhaps by a pair of amazing dimples that just won’t quit.

Another fun aspect of the film is the collection of quirky characters that populate Gladbury — a sort of late 19th Century English Mayberry where, for better or worse, everyone knows each other’s business. The familiar British cast include Leslie Manville (All or Nothing), Sylvester McCoy (The Hobbit), James Cosmo (Braveheart), Barbara Flynn (Elizabeth I), John Hannah (Sliding Doors, The Mummy) and, in her acting debut, singer Susan Boyle who rose to sudden fame via her memorably awe-inspiring performance of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables on Britain’s Got Talent. Her acting may not quite be on par with her superior singing but she does what’s required of her here quite competently and actually may have turned up a new hit for herself with her beautiful performance of film’s Miracle Hymn.

YouTube Preview Image

The Christmas Candle is a likable movie that has something positive to say about having the faith to receive miracles into our own lives while, at the same time, reaching out to others be a part of a miracle in theirs. While, IMHO, some of the special effects may be a tad overdone, this is a film that both adults and kids can enjoy — in other words an old-fashioned (in the best sense of the word) family Christmas story. Recommended.   

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11



Previous Posts

Easter Sunday TV treats: "Apple Mortgage Cake" on UP ; Martha Williamson's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" debuts on Hallmark
Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture. Nice people are staging a comeback on TV. Tonight's first-run offerings on UP TV and Hallmark Channel proves that programming about nice, decent people can be both entertaining and intelligent. The broadcast networks sho

posted 5:44:14am Apr. 20, 2014 | read full post »

This Easter weekend, Roma Downey wants you to know that "Son of God" is still in theaters and still changing lives
Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture. Son of God lives. Faith audiences certainly have option at the box office this weekend -- with Randall Wallace's genuinely sweet slice-of-life (and afterlife) Heaven is for Real joining Darren Aronofsky's strange take o

posted 11:19:09am Apr. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Valerie Harper on her health, her thoughts on faith and her role on Hallmark Channel's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered"
Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture. Taking life one day at a time. Valerie Harper guest stars on the first two episodes of Signed, Sealed, Delivered, the humorous drama series debuting on Hallmark Channel this Sunday night (4/20) at 8:00 PM (ET). The show,

posted 2:06:09pm Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Comparing "Heaven is for Real" with "God's Not Dead" + an interview with "Heaven" writer/director Randall Wallace
Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vccGj7kM0FY[/youtube] Heaven is for Real arrives. the highly-anticipated based on the New York Time #1 bestselling book by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent opens in theaters nationwi

posted 1:30:03pm Apr. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Fantastic voyage: Colton Burpo talks about seeing his awesome experience portrayed on film in "Heaven is for Real"
Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-ewaCVARtM[/youtube] To Heaven and back. Yesterday, I posted my conversation with Todd Burpo, the Nebraska pastor whose book Heaven is for Real chronicling his son Colton's app

posted 12:52:07pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.