Stars: Julie Andrews, Max Von Sydow, Richard Harris
I remember seeing this film when it first came to theaters back in 1966. I was 22 and had not yet come to faith in Christ. I remember loving the scenery, the photography and most of all, Julie Andrews. (I had a huge crush on Julie from the year before, when she made her film debut in “The Sound of Music”.) But I have to say that this movie was big disappointment to me at the time. It was too long and too slow-moving to hold my attention. What a difference seeing it again a few months ago as a Christian and as one who is deeply involved in world missions!
This film was adapted from James A. Michener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and nominated for seven Oscars. The scope and sweep of the story qualify it as an “epic”, a story that traces several decades in the life of a beautiful young New England woman on her incredible journey as the wife of a Christian missionary to the islands of Hawaii. The story is set in the 1800’s, when sea travel was dangerous and missions work even more so. Jerusha (Julie Andrews) marries Reverend Abner Hale, (Max Von Sydow), and joins him on his mission to convert the Hawaiian natives to Christianity. Without ruining the story, let me only say that these well-meaning missionaries find themselves ill-equipped to endure the tribulations of paradise.
This movie shows how well meaning Christianity that fails to connect to people on a relational level will always fall short of what the Master had in mind when He said “make disciples of all nations.” Reverend Hale has zeal for souls but very little clue about people.
The story takes two hours and forty one minutes to unfold, and even though there are windstorms, firestorms, shark attacks and scenery, will probably move too slowly for younger viewers. But I believe the mature ones among us, young and old, will find the film valuable and the lessons taught quite memorable.
This film is not rated, but I don’t think there’s anything truly objectionable here for family viewing.