Reviews of movies with a religious/ethical theme
"Heart of the Beholder"A movie based
on a true story of religious intolerance
||Dwain Deets: " 'Heart of the Beholder,' the
movie, as well as the making of the movie, are stories that should resonate
with the core values of most in the Freethought community. I had the
opportunity to experience these values up front and in person … as a financial
supporter, as an actor, and as a beneficiary." 1
||A conservative Christian: "I just knew this movie would trash Christians, but it didn't. As
a true believer, I was totally entertained. Lots of twists and turns. Very
well done." 2
||Another conservative Christian: "I dont [sic] know what kind of sick, sadistic, satanic, idol
worshipping people you are. But i do know a thing or two myself about
religion and I know that that movie you have created is an abomination and
that you are all going to Hell. I'm sorry. If you want more info on how to
repent from your sins and recieve [sic] the forgiveness which is in the name
of the lord jesus christ [sic], then email me back. and i will show you what
we are talking about. PS I have never seen such a sick movie, and you have
cursed the name of the almighty God."
||"d-grogg:" This is a great film to see on how
NOT to behave as a Christian. 'Heart of the Beholder' illustrates that
fundamentalist terrorism exists in every religion. There is no 'right' in
ruining someone's life, livelihood, or terrorizing their family and saying
that God says it's okay. One cannot say that God is love and then behave
with violence, verbal or otherwise, to prove it." 3
Funding of the movie:
The funding of this movie involves a story as remarkable as the true story
that the move portrays. Darlene Lieblich attempted to raise $500,000 by a target
date to fund the filming. She asked people to pre-order the DVD before the movie
was made; she promised return the money if they were unable to meet their goal.
It turns out that the group "only" collected about $437,000 by the end of the
campaign. So, they returned the money to everyone. Then asked for money in the
form of an investment. This time, they succeeded and were able to make the
movie. Everyone's investment was returned, with 25% per year interest. The top
lenders were given the option of playing a bit part in the movie.
According to Amazon.com's editorial review:
"Based on a True Story - Mike and Diane Howard opened the first
videocassette rental store in St. Louis in 1981. With hard work, their
company grew into a multi-million dollar chain of video stores. The Howards
were targeted by a religious group called the Citizens For Decency.
The CFD insisted the Howards remove movies that they felt were obscene.
Films such as Taxi Driver, Agnes of God, Blazing Saddles, Animal House, Mr.
Mom, SPLASH, and many more. When Martin Scorsese's controversial film,
The Last Temptation of Christ, was released on video, the Howards' were
the only stores in St. Louis to carry the film. The CFD declared war with
pickets and boycotts. Death threats were made against their daughter."
"The prosecutor filed obscenity charges and alleged that the Howards had
ties to organized crime which made Mike and Diane social outcasts. They won
their court case, but the negative publicity and legal fees bankrupted them.
After an aborted suicide attempt, Mike pulled himself together. Mike finds
out that a former prostitute, who had fallen into the religious group, told
the zealots how the Prosecuting Attorney had been a regular customer of
hers. The CFD then blackmailed the Prosecuting Attorney with information
about the prosecutor's secret sex life."
"Mike and Diane lost everything, but they did get something the powerless
seldom do - REVENGE."
One might wonder why the Citizens for Decency objected to SPLASH.
We have a hunch because it is a light-hearted romantic comedy in which the lead
actress plays the role of a mermaid. The decency censors might well have viewed
the movie as advocating bestiality -- inter-species sex. Their concern about
The Last Temptation of Christ is more obvious: the movie portrays Yeshua of
Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) as a very human person, unsure of his destiny.
Their objection to Blazing Saddles is a real puzzler, unless it was the
scene in which a circle of cowboys each ate a mess of beans with the inevitable
Why theatres will not play it:
Dwain Deets, an investor who played the role of the judge in the movie,
"The movie has received more feature movie first places than any other
independent film, ever, five!"
"So why isn't it showing in the theaters? Mostly because of efforts from
the religious right. I don't know specifics on these people, or what
organizations they represent. But, there has been a constant barrage of
resistance during the entire time. Successful interference that derailed
signing of prominent actors, letter-writing campaigns to film festivals
putting the movie in bad light, cyber attacks against the Heart of the
Beholder website, and on and on. Potential distributors are
understandably leery of taking on this added risk of these determined
According to Amazon.com:
"NOTE: This DVD has been coded to play on all DVD players around the
world. The SPECIAL COLLECTORS EDITION DVD contains the full feature film,
two behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews with cast and crew, deleted
scenes, and a hidden 'Easter Egg' short film."
Name: Heart of the Beholder"
Director: Ken Tipton
Production company: River City Entertainment
Runtime: 106 minutes
Themes: Intolerance, censorship.
Rating: "R" for language and sexual content
||IMDb: 7.3 out of 10 (based on 97 votes)
||Amazon.com: 4 out of 5 stars (based on 2 votes)
||RottenTomatoes: 80% tomatometer value (based on 5 votes)
Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2007-MAY-05
Latest update: 2007-MAY-05
Author: B.A. Robinson