Jesus Camp (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/11/2007

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 87 mins

Superbly directed documentary that is by turns frightening, heartbreaking and extremely disturbing.

What's it all about?
Directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, this Oscar-nominated documentary follows Pastor Becky Fischer, a fundamentalist Christian minister who runs Kids On Fire, a North Dakota summer camp where kids as young as six years old are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers and schooled in how to 'take back America for Christ'. We also follow three of the camp's young students - Levi, Rachael and Tory – and witness their shocking home schooling ('Evolution is wrong, global Warming doesn't exist' etc) as well as their protests against abortion.

The film's lone voice against the evangelical movement is provided by lawyer-slash radio presenter Mike Papantonio – his climactic phone conversation with Pastor Becky is extremely gripping and well worth the wait. Meanwhile, we occasionally hear snippets from news reports detailing George Bush's attempts to nominate evangelical-friendly judges to the Supreme Court.

The Good
Rather than hammer all this home with an isn't-this-terrible voiceover, Ewing and Grady take an even-handed approach and let the subjects speak for themselves, with the result that Pastor Becky probably views the film as a decent marketing tool. However, non-fundamentalists will be justifiably horrified, particularly at the militaristic use of language – at one point Pastor Becky practically says, 'Well, the Taliban are indoctrinating kids from a young age so we should too'.

The Great
The heartbreaking thing is that the kids themselves are genuinely sweet, thoughtful children (it's hard not to think of the brainwashed Nazi Pop Twins on the recent Louis Theroux show). Indeed, Rachael's habit of attempting to 'save' likely-looking strangers is both disturbing and sweetly amusing at the same time.

In fact, the film is filled with similar moments where you don't know whether to laugh or cry such as Pastor Becky getting quite worked up about how evil Harry Potter is, or when the children are encouraged to bless a cardboard cut-out of George Bush.

Worth seeing?
This is a compelling documentary that delivers a chilling message about America's future. As such, it demands to be seen. Recommended.

Film Trailer

Jesus Camp (PG)
Jesus Camp has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 21/07/2018 09:03

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