12th June, 2012
DVD - Machine Gun Preacher (Special Edited Edition) (MA 15+)
In A Word: Gut-wrenching
From the opening scenes – which shows a raid on a village in southern Sudan - Machine Gun Preacher (even the specially edited version we saw) is not an easy film to watch.
"Machine Gun Preacher certainly challenges our apathy in the face of the gut-wrenching horrors the children in Uganda and Sudan have faced at the hands of the LRA, but one is equally left wondering about the rightness of Childers’ actions in rescuing them."
Following the story of real life Sam Childers, a drug-addicted bikie turned pastor, it shows how he came to be working in southern Sudan and northern Uganda where even now he remains involved in protecting and rescuing children from the predatory Lord’s Resistance Army, a group known for its recruitment of child soldiers, use of witchcraft and horrendous night raids on villages.
Gerard Butler plays the role of Sam with some grit, supported by Michelle Monaghan as Sam’s long-suffering wife Lynn. It’s Lynn who first becomes a Christian and, who, after a violent encounter forces Sam to rethink his life, encourages him to accompany her and Sam’s mother Daisy (played by Kathy Baker) to their local church where he is baptised.
Sam’s life is turned around by God and he creates a successful construction business. After a missionary visits their church, however, he decides to take some time off and visit Africa. It’s during that visit that he first encounters the victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Sam decides to build an orphanage for those who have escaped the LRA and its madman leader, Joseph Kony (recently the star of the viral film KONY 2012), and when challenged by the LRA, decides to fight back. It’s Childers’ readiness to use guns to do so which eventually lead him to be given the nickname, the Machine Gun Preacher.
Directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland and Quantum of Solace), Machine Gun Preacher certainly challenges our apathy in the face of the horrors the children in Uganda and Sudan have faced at the hands of the LRA, but one is equally left wondering about the rightness of Childers’ actions in rescuing them.
The film doesn’t gloss over the tensions in his life – we see him increasingly berating his parishioners at the church he founded in the US, frustrated with their apathy towards his adopted cause, and the toll his mission takes on his family life and friendships – although these tensions are mostly left unresolved, perhaps in a reflection of the ongoing reality of the man behind the story.
In that vein Machine Gun Preacher leaves many questions about Childers and his life unanswered. But then again, it doesn’t purport to be a documentary of his life. It’s simply telling a story with all that implies. But it is one that will stay with you.
THE SIGHT ON THE SCREEN ARCHIVES FOR
OF FILMS AND DVDS