Title: Polycarp (2015; NR*)
Director: Joe Henline
Major Themes: Polycarp, Early Christians, Christian History
Synopsis: After being rescued from slavery, Anna finds herself among Christians—but life quickly becomes more difficult when they have to choose to either worship Caesar or face their deaths if they are caught.
Several of my brothers visited friends a while back, and when they returned, they talked about a movie they’d watched with them. Later, when we visited them, we borrowed it to watch as a family. It took a while to get around to watching Polycarp, though, because I was a little concerned that we (meaning I) might not like it, based on the descriptions my brothers had given. Eventually, though, my brothers convinced me we ought to watch it on one of our movie nights, so I gave in—it did have to be returned, after all.
Anna is a young slave girl, ripped away from her family and disoriented when she’s put up on the auction block. When she’s bought by people who promise her her freedom, she’s confused—wasn’t she supposed to become a household slave, just like all the others that were sold? But the people she comes to live with are Christians, and they want the best for her. As she learns to live with them and become one of their family, she faces questions of faith—is what they’re saying correct, or was what she was taught growing up the right way? Then, as she’s starting to get things settled, the Roman proconsul sends out a proclamation—burn incense to worship the Caesar, or suffer the consequences. Life suddenly becomes much more difficult for the Christians in Smyrna. What can they do to stay true to Christ, and yet respect their government?
I’ve been somewhat aware of Polycarp’s story for quite a while now, although I tend to get him mixed up with his mentor, the Apostle John. This movie brought him to life, as well as some of the other Christians around him. It wasn’t an easy time, by any means, but his wisdom and encouragement did a lot to strengthen the believers through their struggles. I couldn’t imagine facing what these Christians had to face—the choice they had to make knowing that if they refused to sacrifice to Caesar, they would be killed for it. This was a challenging story to watch unfold.
I did feel like this movie may not have been the best it could be; though it was a good storyline, it felt like it didn’t move along quite as quickly as it could have. The sets were well-done, but didn’t feel entirely realistic; the lighting, for example, was far too bright for what they would have normally had in their homes back then. The film overall didn’t have the polished edge I’ve gotten used to in other productions. But in saying that, it was still very good. It shared a story you don’t often see in Christian movies—definitely not the popular “God’s got your back, and life will be peachy” feel you get from some movies! What our Christian forefathers faced was real, desperate hardship at times, yet they took it with such grace and courage that we can’t help but stop and marvel at their absolute trust in the Lord. I appreciated getting the chance to watch Polycarp.
*This movie is currently unrated; I would recommend it as a PG movie, because of some of the inferred violence in here.
WARNING: From the beginning – 1:35, people are in a cell next to the coliseum and see a gladiator fight where one man is apparently killed (offscreen). At 2:25, a man spits in a girl’s face. From 59:40 – 1:00:44, a man is in the arena (interspersed with scenes of a girl crying), and around 1:01:40, someone recounts his death, saying, “He gave his life up…he ran to the lions.” (again, you get the idea, but it’s offscreen). From 1:05:00 –1:07:02, soldiers come searching for a man, and a house is set on fire. At 1:14:44, you see a boy who was beaten and is in chains. At 1:17:20, soldiers break into a house. From 1:22:30 – 1:23:44, the proconsul threatens a man with different deaths. From 1:24:00 – 1:25:14, a man is being burned to death (you see the flames starting to leap around him, but don’t see him die).
Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults, Family Friendly
Links to buy this movie:
Amazon: Prime Video | DVD
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