Christian Movie Review
Nolan Lebovitz had a job that most people only dream about: he was a Hollywood director making feature films and working with some of the best in the business. He wrote and directed the film “Tortured,” which starred Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus from “Matrix”), Cole Hauser (“Good Will Hunting”), and the legendary James Cromwell (“The Green Mile” and a zillion other movies).
But then something changed.
He got married and had a kid.
The power of marriage, family, and fatherhood transformed his life, and he began asking tough questions like, “Is what I’m doing helping the world become a better place for my kids?” As he examined the entertainment he had created for the masses, a big “No” reverberated in his heart.
This tough questioning led him down a path he never would have imagined previously: he become a rabbi, and then he make a landmark documentary about the Book of Genesis — and why society desperately needs that book — called “Roadmap Genesis.”
I’ve seen it, I loved it, and I urge you to order a copy of it for yourself (and one for a friend or family member too). I’m pushing it because it’s powerful, it’s life-changing, and it’s a high quality, riveting documentary. (And I’ll explain in detail why it’s so good in a moment.)
Yes, I’m a Christian and Nolan is a Jew. But, as Nolan explained in my interview with him recently, Christians and Jews have very important foundations in common and, in his words: “We are like the cousins we only get to see once a year, twice a year, so we never really have substantial conversation.”
And, frankly, as the world amps up its persecution of people who hold fast to Biblical values of morality and family — i.e. Jews and Christians — we need each other as allies.
Here are some reasons why I love this documentary.
First of all…
You Can Tell This Is a Film Made By a Top-Notch Hollywood Director. It’s Superbly Entertaining, Fast-Paced, Perfectly Edited, Varied in Content, and Engaging.
This is not meant to be a mean-spirited dig on other documentaries out there, but, I’ll be honest: you can really tell when a professional that has reached the top of their field has made a documentary. Likewise, you can tell when someone who hasn’t quite refined their craft has made a documentary.
“Roadmap Genesis” definitely belongs in the former category. Lebovitz isn’t using the most expensive cameras, crews, or special effects, but he doesn’t need them. He has the eye of a proven Hollywood director who knows his craft and knows how to fine-tune the pacing, editing, and content of a film until it shines with five-star, two-thumbs-up excellence. He understands that even documentaries have stories, and he knows how to hit those beats in the overarching story. Having that eye for excellence is worth more than all the film crews and fancy equipment in the world. If you don’t have that eye, no amount of 120 million dollar CGI work will save you.
“Roadmap Genesis” moves through its scenes with the ease and agility of one of those professional dancers on “Dancing with the Stars.” The documentary splices and dices a surprising variety of content: one moment you’re listening to interviews with Alan Dershowitz, Cardinal Francis George (the Archbishop of Chicago), Ken Ham, or Gov. Mike Huckabee; the next moment a TV clip of atheist Bill Maher interviewing Richard Dawkins pops up or an old clip of Chris Rock doing stand-up; and then you’re witnessing a hilarious (or shocking) man-on-the-street interview where strangers confess their total lack of knowledge about Genesis and the Bible. The next moment you’re witnessing moving footage of Nolan’s family and childhood from his home movies.
It’s not random either.
Every little piece of content is thought out, well-timed, and used with good taste and restraint — whether it’s a funny scene from the film “Rush Hour” or the epic orchestral theme from “Star Wars” blasting as we see the opening verses of the Book of Genesis scroll up slowly with yellow font in true “Star Wars” style.
It’s a true smorgasbord of compelling interviews, relevant moments from pop culture, eye-opening man-on-the-street questions, and an intimate portrait of an American family with whom we can all relate.
And, what I really appreciated, is that it’s edited to perfection. It flows. There’s never a sense of boredom or sluggishness.
Shared Truths that Both Jews and Christians Will Love and Appreciate.
Nolan does a superb job in zeroing in on content that unites rather than divides. At the same time, he’s not watering down any significant theological or political differences and saying those things — and those ongoing debates — don’t matter. He’s simply shining a bright light on what we so often neglect: the powerful, society-binding, sacred truths that every Bible-believing Christian and Jew can agree about and hold in common.
One of my favorite moments comes when we get some Jewish insight into the Hebrew language used in Genesis 1:1. A scholar points out that the Hebrew word that is translated as “created” is, throughout the entire Bible, only used with God as a subject, which means the word refers to a wholly unique type of creative act that has no duplicate in human activity. The closest we can come to approximating its meaning is by using our own smaller scale acts of creation as loose analogies.
There are many moments like these: everything from God calling Abram to get up and leave his comfort zone of home and go to Canaan to Joseph’s plight and how God used the evil and misfortune for an ultimate good that no one but God could have foreseen.
Not only do we visit powerful moments and lessons of Genesis, but we learn how the Book of Genesis is responsible for so many hugely important institutions and historical moments that we now take for granted: the founding of America, the fundamental principles of law, the valuing of human life as God’s image in society, and the essential role that healthy marriages and families play in preserving cultures and communities — just to name a few.
“Roadmap Genesis” is a treasure, and I hope we see many more documentaries come from the talented Nolan Lebovitz. Pick up your copy of the film today and immerse yourself in the one-of-a-kind wonder that is Genesis.