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Reviews of movies with a religious/ethical theme

"Heart of the Beholder"A movie based
on a true story of religious intolerance

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bullet 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
bullet 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
bullet 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." 2
bullet "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

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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.

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The plot:

According to'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 physiological result.

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Sponsored link:

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Why theatres will not play it:

Dwain Deets, an investor who played the role of the judge in the movie, writes:

"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 adversaries."

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Movie details:

According to

"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"
Web site:
Year: 2005
Director: Ken Tipton
Production company: River City Entertainment
Runtime: 106 minutes
Themes: Intolerance, censorship.
Rating: "R" for language and sexual content
Viewers' ratings:

bullet IMDb: 7.3 out of 10 (based on 97 votes)
bullet 4 out of 5 stars (based on 2 votes)
bullet RottenTomatoes: 80% tomatometer value (based on 5 votes)

72 scenes from the DVD can be seen free online at:

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Order the movie:

Read reviews or order this movie on DVD safely from

Alternately, you can order the book from the movie's web site and have the option of having the profit from the sale split with a group of non-profit organizations.

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  1. "Testimonials," Heart of the Beholder, at:
  2. Untitled, CFI Community of Northeast Ohio, at:
  3. "Heart of the Beholder," IMDb, at:

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Copyright 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-MAY-05
Latest update: 2007-MAY-05
Author: B.A. Robinson

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