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billygrahampicforic.jpgIt’s cause for wonder that a biopic of Billy Graham, “America’s pastor,” hasn’t been made before. And perhaps it’s a blessing too. As the national release date for “Billy: The Early Years” nears (Oct. 10, according to a press release), the blue-red, Christian-secular cultural crossfire seems to have died to a quiet murmur compared to say, the election of 2004 or the days of Falwell: The Early Years. In this period of relative truce, the movie might be judged on its own merits, instead of serving as a punching bag for the media and politicians hell-bent on proving their allegiance to or suspicions of religion in the public square.


On the other hand, the movie will benefit from our faith-based squabbles. The film tells the story of Graham’s relationship with Charles Templeton, a close friend of the evangelist and a talented natural preacher who came to doubt his own faith and eventually left the ministry. A chronicle of their friendship is as good a dramatization of the nation’s divergent religious paths as history has to offer. Audiences who have lived through the past two decades in America will no doubt recognize the issues.
Of course, that’s presuming director Robby Benson and the film’s producers allow Templeton’s doubts equal time. The biggest challenge for any film about a Great Man is granting any but the main character any dimension, much less moral standing, at all.

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