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LEFT BEHIND
Peter and Paul LaLonde, don't believe in making boring films. With a $17.4 million budget they have produced the biggest and most ambitious Christian film to date.
-Review by Annette Wierstra


(2000)


This page was created on March 29, 2001
This page was last updated on May 22, 2005

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Directed by Victor Sarin
Written by: John Bishop and Alan B. McElroy
Novel: Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye

Kirk Cameron .... Buck Williams
Brad Johnson .... Rayford Steele
Christie MacFadyen .... Irene Steele
Jay Manchester .... Rayford Steele Jr.
Janaya Stephens .... Chloe Steele
Chelsea Noble .... Hattie Durham
Clarence Gilyard Jr. .... Bruce Barnes
Gordon Currie .... Nicolae Carpathia
Philip Akin .... Allan
Neil Crone .... Ken Ritz
Colin Fox .... Chaim Rosenzweig

Produced by Ron Booth, Joe Goodman, Paul Lalonde (executive), Peter Lalonde (executive), C. Robert Neutz, Nicholas Tabarrok (line), Ralph Winter
Cinematography by George Tirl
Film Editing by Michael Pacek

Rated PG-13 for violence.

  BUY THE BOOK
Left Behind, by authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, has hit the New York Times best-seller list as have several of its sequels. And, all six titles in the book series sit one on top of the other at the top of the Christian bestseller lists.

BUY THE AUDIO CASSETTE

BUY THE SEQUELS:
Tribulation Force (Left Behind #2)
Nicolae (Left Behind #3)
Soul Harvest (Left Behind #4)
Apollyon (Left Behind #5)

CD SOUNDTRACK
Click for information1. Left Behind Main Theme - Bryan Duncan/Shine 2. Never Been Unloved (Bruce's Song) - Michael W. Smith 3. I Believe In You - Joy Williams 4. Sky Falls Down (Israel Is Attacked) - Third Day 5. I Need A Miracle - Plus One 6. Hide My Soul - Avalon 7. Can't Wait For You To Return - Fred Hammond 8. Midnight Cry (Closing Theme) - Bob Carlisle/Darwin Hobbs/H Baylor/Jake/Jody McBrayer/J Williams/R. St. James/R. Elias/R. Lee 9. Fly (Chloe's Song) - Larue 10. Believer (Buck's Song) - Jake 11. Come Quickly Lord - Rebecca St. James 12. After All (Rayford's Song) - Bob Carlisle 13. Live For The Lord (Irene's Song) - Kathy Troccoli 14. All The Way To Heaven - V*enna 15. No Fear (Panic In The City) - Clay Crosse
Click for information

DON'T BE LEFT BEHIND!

BOOK SYNOPSIS:
Piloting his 747, Rayford Steele is musing about his wife Irene's irritating religiosity and contemplating the charms of his "drop-dead gorgeous" flight attendant, Hattie. First Irene was into Amway, then Tupperware, and now it's the Rapture of the Saints--the scary last story in the Bible in which Christians are swept to heaven and unbelievers are left behind to endure the Antichrist's Tribulation.

Steele believes he'll put the plane on autopilot and go visit Hattie. But Hattie's in a panic: some of the passengers have disappeared! The Rapture has happened, abruptly driverless cars are crashing all over, and the slick, sinister Romanian Nicolae Carpathia plans to use the UN to establish one world government and religion. Resembling "a young Robert Redford" and silver-tongued in nine languages, Carpathia is named People's "Sexiest Man Alive." Meanwhile, Steele teams up with Buck Williams, a buck-the-system newshound, to form the Tribulation Force, an underground of left-behind penitents battling the Antichrist.
See RealPlayer Left Behind Ad
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REVIEW By David Bruce
Web Master HollywoodJesus.com
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Buck Williams is a reporter who discovers that war is erupting in the middle East.
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Buck begins to learn that something prophetic is happening.
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Pilot Rayford Steele leaves for work and says good bye to his family -- his son, daughter and his wife. Little does he know that he will never see his Christian wife and son again.
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Rayford has a secret lover, Hattie Durham -- a flight attendant. During the flight several of the passengers suddenly disappear -- leaving their clothes behind.
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Panic breaks out. Where did all the people go?
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Meanwhile, Rayford's daughter Chloe Steele is involved in a traffic pile up as certain drivers are suddenly missing from vehicles.
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Rayford races home to find his entire family gone. Confused, he picks up a Bible and begins to read it.
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Chloe and her father Rayford soon discover each other and come to understand that the Rapture has happened, and all the world's children and adult Christians have been taken away.
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Without Christians in the world the AntiChrist comes to power.
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Rayford, Chloe and others realize that they have been Left Behind and dedicate themselves to the God they had always rejected.
LEFT BEHIND
Peter and Paul LaLonde, don't believe in making boring films. With a $17.4 million budget they have produced the biggest and most ambitious Christian film to date.
-Review by Annette Wierstra
Email Me

Have you heard the buzz? The books were the hottest Christian works to hit the shelves since well, the Bible. The Left Behind series made the New York Times best-seller list, a coup for Christian fiction. Over 25 million copies have been sold of the eight adult books, 6 million copies of Left Behind alone have been sold.

Now the movie is hoped to make a similar success in the film industry.

Left Behind was released in the US on February 2 on 874 screens, and hit screens in Canada early March. In the opening weekend the movie was the number one independent release pulling in $2.2 million at the box office. With a controversial video release before the theatre release many were predicting low box office numbers.

Producers, brothers Peter and Paul LaLonde, don't believe in making boring films. With a $17.4 million budget, the Canadian film company Could Ten Pictures has produced the biggest and most ambitious Christian film to date.

"If we're going to compete in the most powerful institution in our world today, then we have to compete with the best of the best to be the best among them," says Peter LaLonde. And that includes pulling together a strong cast.

"Choosing a cast was extremely difficult. Everyone has in their own mind what the characters look like what they act like what the homes look like. We had to be very cognizant about it," admits LaLonde. "The characters have the same beat the same rhythm, they are the same characters they are in the book. I think that what will happen is now when people read the future books in the left behind series they'll probably picture the movie characters in their head."

The cast includes Growing Pains' Kirk Cameron as the journalist Buck Williams, who unearths more than a story when he goes digging for the facts.

"I was very excited to play Buck," says Cameron. "In a lot of ways I could relate to Buck in terms of him being a guy who was fairly skeptical about most spiritual things and wanted genuine evidence and facts to support something before he'd believe it."

Cameron's wife Chelsea Noble (Full House, Days of Our Lives) plays the airline stewardess Hattie Durham.

"To play Hattie was a challenge because she's a character that doesn't come to know God," says Noble. "I felt professionally it was a challenge and it was a role I had to put some thought into about what was going on inside this character and what she was feeling. She was just a hurting vulnerable girl who didn't have God in her life and I can remember that very well."

Clarence Gilyard, currently in Walker, Texas Ranger with Chuck Norris, plays pastor Bruce Barnes who is surprised to be left behind. "I thought it was right on the money," says Gilyard.

"I thought he was the most honest character in the movie. All of us who know who we are and have challenges every day I could be fooling you, but I'm not fooling God."

Put the cast together with a screenplay that remains close to the original story and the book is brought to life. Peter LaLonde admits it helped that the actors had read the books and were excited about the project.

"There was a commitment on the part of Kirk and Chelsea and Clarence that they wanted to maintain the spiritual integrity of what was in the books and that was our feeling exactly," he says.

Left Behind is not the first movie the LaLonde brothers have produced. They drew attention with their previous apocalyptic films Revelation and Tribulation. The National Post called the Christian directors "Hollywood-hip" and "media savvy." Their company, Cloud Ten Pictures, is financially backing Left Behind from the profits of earlier films.

Peter LaLonde believes film is the modern cultural medium of the future. "I believe it's how culture and values are passed along in our day. In the old days a grandfather would sit with his son at the campfire and tell great stories." he says in Ministries Today. "Today people sit around the television during the family hour."

Bringing the Left Behind book series to life was a natural subject for the LaLondes. Already known for apocalyptic genre in film, the phenomenal sales of the series meant there was a ready-made audience.

"Who would have ever dreamed that a book series on the end times would become a revolution in not just the Christian publishing world but the publishing world in general," says Peter LaLonde. "We're talking about the most popular fictional series in the history of the printing press. We're talking about numbers that rival Grisham and Clancy and Harry Potter."

LaLonde hopes that the movie Left Behind will make audiences think about the big questions and start conversations about faith, God and Christianity.

"I want people to take the movie with them for at least 10 or 15 minutes. I think we've all had that time, whether we're believers or not, when we've looked in the mirror and asked what's life all about?" he says, "That's what happens to the characters in the movie. I want everyone to relate to those moments and reflect on the decisions they made in that moment and perhaps re-evaluate."

That leaves one last question. Will there be more Left Behind movies?

Cloud Ten Pictures has announced that filming for the second film, Tribulation Force is expected to begin fall 2001.


THE FAITH LIFE OF
KIRK CAMERON


-By Annette Wierstra

The curly hair and engaging smile of Kirk Cameron are well-known to fans of the award-winning sitcom Growing Pains. The role of Mike Seaver thrust Cameron into the limelight and made him a teen heartthrob in the 80s.

It was during the fifth year of the Growing Pains series that Mike Seaver met his match Kate on camera and Kirk Cameron met his off camera in Chelsea Noble. Noble, guest-starring on Growing Pains as Kate, was also known for her roles on Full House, Loving and Days of Our Lives.

Today the couple is happily married in Los Angeles with four children. They are still busy working, often with Disney, and most recently on the Christian blockbuster, Left Behind.

Both committed Christians, Cameron and Noble were excited to be involved with the Left Behind movie. They had received the first four books from a friend and Noble was quickly drawn in by the story, staying up late to read the books.

"I was so excited and I remember saying to Kirk waking him up actually," admits Noble, "and saying, 'This has to be made into a movie and I would love to play the character of Hattie.' "

About a week later Cameron got a call from his agent offering him and his wife the roles of Buck and Hattie in the upcoming movie version of Left Behind. "I really believe that it was a real answer to prayer and a real gift for both of us," says Noble.

The love of God and compassions for others just flows out of Cameron and Noble. On the set of Left Behind cast and crew saw the couple spend a day talking with a couple who had stopped by to see what was happening. They were sharing the love of Jesus with them.

"I see people who are hurting inside and I know that a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus is just what they're looking for and just what they need, and they just don't realize it yet, says Cameron. "I just want to share that with them. I feel compassion for them, I care about what they're going through."

Of the set the couple shows their love and compassion in another way. In the early 1990s, they've founded the Firefly Foundation, an organization that helps families of seriously ill children. Each summer they host a camp for sick children who want to meet the Cameron or simply need some time in the great outdoors.

Spirituality and faith weren't always a part of Cameron's life. He didn't go to church as a child or grow up in a faith community. "I was pretty confident that there was no God that existed," says Cameron.

For a while everything was good, Cameron was part of a hit sitcom and his future looked bright. But something changed. Cameron started to wonder if there was more to life than being rich popular and famous. "Hollywood offers a lot of empty promises. Those things didn't bring me happiness, peace and stability that I was really looking for," he says.

Cameron talked to some people about Jesus, started reading the Bible and asked a lot of questions. "Ultimately, I got down on my knees one day and asked God to show me the truth and Who He is if He's really there," says Cameron. "It was really just coming to the point where I knew I needed God"

Noble is confidant that Left Behind will have a big impact on audience. "No matter what your beliefs are walking into it, it's a movie that will challenge you to think," says Noble. "It will make people feel something and this world is so hungry to be filled up inside and to know who God is. What if this really did happen? Who is God?"

For both Cameron and Noble, the decision to follow God was the most important of their lives and everyday that decision brings them peace and joy.

"God is the most important thing is our lives, the centre of our lives," Noble told The Christian Herald, "for Kirk and I individually, and our main focus in our family and raising our children. Its everything."

"There's nothing I've ever done, nobody I've ever met, no dreams that I've ever had in my career," says Cameron, "that even come close to comparing the joy that I know in knowing God following Him day by day."

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GREAT MOVIE
Subject: Left_Behind
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2002
From: Mary

The movie was great i loved it i hope you make more.
--- Mary Cundiff in Selverdal Wa

LEFT BEHIND IN THE UK (WILL IT HAPPEN)
Subject: Left Behind
Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2002
From: Cliff Oakley

Is there any way we in the UK will ever be able to purchase a PAL (UK TV System) version of Left Behind? I keep checking Amazon in the hope that a PAL version may appear but I am loosing hope....How come we in the UK have been 'left behind'. I do so want to watch this movie but I can't see myself flying to the U.S. to watch it!!
Cliff Oakley, Wigan, Lancashire, U.K.

IT WAS GREAT
Subject: the movie Left_Behind
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001
From: April Nebrask

I FINALLY saw the Left Behind movie,.. it was great. I have read the books and the way that the movie is made is soo how I pictured it. I think that it is just a great movie. I am sad that I was not here when it first came out .. (I was gone out of the country for one year) but I am soo glad that I now saw it! It is sooo good and I hope that there will be other movies for the rest of the books made!!!
Thanks,
April Nebrask

BOOK VS MOVIE
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2001
From: Melissa

I love the idea that the Christian community is finally being able to put together a movie that is worthy of attention. I decided to read the book Left Behind before viewing the movie, already knowing that when you have a series of books that have such an insight to detail and emotions, that the movie usually is unable to reflect this the same way to the viewer. I liked the movie but there was just no way you can take all the information that the book contains and compact it into a standard time frame.

I do feel that the actors and actresses were a little held back from taking the story to it's full capacity. Meaning, the movie was directed to fit everything in, it seems like they were rushed through the plot.

I have one request for the future movie series, which I look forward to, is to stretch out the events. I expect to see Nicolae to be given the attention that "Indiana Jones" needed.

I find the movies to be a great starting point to teach unbelievers and "believers" exactly what Jesus is all about.

May God guide and bless them as we use these resources to help save souls.
Melissa

MORE OF LEFT BEHIND SERIES?
Subject: Left Behind Movie Question
Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2001
From: Vincent

hello. I dont know who else to ask this question! Will there be any more Left Behind movies? will they make Tribulation Force into a movie, and maybe Niolae, etc into movies? Or is that one going to be the last? if you know, please inform me ;)
-Vincent

Response: More are in the works. -David

SO SO MOVIE
Subject: Left Behind
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001
From: "Mike Furches"

A little over 4 years ago one of my nieces gave my wife the book Left Behind. Over the last few years my wife and daughter have been trying to get me to read the novel. I was quite reluctant to do so due to what I perceived to be poor theology and the retelling of a story that had been told hundreds of time before. When the movie came out I decided to cheat and purchase it before reading the novel. This of course was prior to the theatrical release which I have serious questions about in the way it took place and the timing. What I will say is that the video created enough interest for me to start reading the books. Now less than 4 months later, and into my 6th book I have decided to visit some of the comments. It continues to amaze me at the power some place on movies and /or books. One thing I have come to realize is that these tools only have the power to be used as we as individuals choose to use them. It's kind of like expecting the preacher in church to do all of the preaching and converting of our lost friends. It just aint the way it's supposed to be. We have our part to accomplish, kind of like inviting them there and sharing Christ with them through our lives. Movies and books are tools that can be used if we choose to use them.

With a few of those comments posted I will now comment on the movie. I have never been one that categorically believes that the book is always better than the movie. For example, sometimes movies are very much like the book. Silence of the Lambs, The Pelican Brief, Intensity and numerous other books hold very true to the book. Sometimes the movie is actually better than the book, the prime example of this is probably Forest Gump. However, Left Behind does not fit into either of these categories. The quality of the production is O.K. at best, and the retelling of the story is virtually inconsistent with the book, similar, for example to Jurassic Park which has very little in common with the book.

I actually found the movie to be untrue to the book so much that in some regards I believe Christians where upset to the point that they could not fully support the film. This being the case I believe the full potential of the movie was not obtained. Does this mean that I will continue to criticize the premise of the book or the possibility of it to reach others with the Gospel, absolutely not! This movie can be the starting point to discuss Christ with others. I recently had a discussion with a friend in Massachusetts about the book and had the opportunity to share the Gospel with him as a result his association of Left Behind with Stephen King's book The Stand. It was a tool, which enabled me to share the Gospel with an unbeliever. We also spoke about the movie and he did indicate that he would be willing to watch the video and that it would maybe ignite enough interest to read the books. We have also kept in touch via email discussing this over the last several months.

What makes the book so useful, in my opinion, is the clear Gospel message that is shared throughout. The message is clear despite what an individuals belief is on the end times. By the way, there are three prevalent thoughts on the end time, each with Biblical support. Left Behind presents only one of those. To my knowledge the authors have also stated numerous times that the books where intended to be tools not a dissertation on end times theology. Unfortunately the clarity of that message is not as prevalent in the movie unless there is someone there to give clarification to the viewer who is not aware of end times theology.

In regards to other attributes related to the movie. Personally, I don't think it was a very good screenplay, I was disappointed with the special effects and thought the casting was poor. Each of these things said the production should have been left for the video and not released on the big screen.

On a scale of 1 - 10 I would rate Left Behind with a 6. Worthwhile but nothing of special value that did not already exist in superior Christian and non Christian productions. If looking for a good story with better casting and acting on this subject see Tribulation, a surprising and good movie using the same end times approach.

Mike Furches mike@furches.org

CHRISTIAN ARTIST VIEW ON LEFT BEHIND?
Date: Sun, 08 Apr 2001
From: Melissa

Hey (especially Christian Artists), I've read most of the LB books and seen the movie. Right now I am writing a research paper on the Christian Artists' function, using Left Behind and the debates surrounding it as the center of my paper. I've noticed a lot of people on this BB saying that LB the movie is disappointing and rather than argue theologically, I want to question the artistic value of LB and what role it had for the Christian artist. Is LB too "preachy?" SHould all Christian Art be this way? What is the best way for a Christian to reach a secular audience? Was LB really good or do we just have this need to say it's good because we are Christians and we want to help our fellow brothers and sisters (the producers of the film) and also feel a need to evangelize? IS LB a powerful evangelizing tool? Does LB do more harm than it does help to the non-Christian? These are a few questions I am asking in my paper. I'd really appreciate responses directly to my e-mail by Christian artists-ie filmmakers, writers, painters, sculpters, musicians, etc (sorry if I left your art out). As a filmmaker and a Christian a year from graduating film school, this topic is of utmost importance to me and my verdict on what value the books and film have is still out. Thanks for all your help.
David, feel free to give out my e-mail!
In Christ, Melissa melissmm@usc.edu

LOW CRINGE FACTOR
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001
From: Doug

I watched with my wife who is a fan of the books. Myself, I made it through the first book and approximately 20 pages of the second before deciding that life was too short to read novels with two-dimensional characters and such turgid, overblown plots. By the way, are there any characters who are genuine women in the books? All I saw were feminine-shaped, non-entities apparently placed there to either accessorize the men or serve as sources of emotional flamboyance.

I was less-than-optimistic about the movie. However, the production values, such as they are, did not detract from the story and I thought the actors acquitted themselves nicely. At the very least, they have nothing to be ashamed of. Kirk Cameron turns in what is probably the performance of his career. Unfortunately, he is woefully miscast as Buck Williams (I kid you not), in that he lacks sufficient physical presence and edginess, and thus his efforts are not enough to realize the worldliness and cynicism one would reasonably expect of an international broadcast jounalist. Brad Johnson as airline pilot Rayford Steele (no really, I kid you not this time either), does indeed possess a chin which looks as though it could open tin cans and he uses it to its full effect in portraying a rather egocentric, neglectful husband who only too late realizes the errors of his ways after his wife disappears. Janaya Stephens as Chloe, Rayford's daughter, is the most noteworth of all the performers. She is noteworthy because she is an actress who approaches her characterization straight on. Relying not on kitchy teenaged stereotypes or "wise beyond her years" attitudes, she simply portrays a young woman just reaching the end of adolescence. In other words, a guarded mixture of cynicism and hope. While she is on screen, the other actors may as well be cardboard cutouts, such is the authenticity of her performance. As the movie progresses, it becomes more obvious that she was the only one who didn't listen to the director.

One can complain about the source material, but even third-rate material can be transformed in the hands of a skilled director. And it is the director's lack which ultimately cripples this movie, particularly the pacing and plot exposition. Character developement and exploration, such as it is, is heavy-handed and trite. As for drama, one would expect rioting in the streets and mass chaos after such an event, but what we get is an unconvincing shot of a traffic jam and several scenes with mildly irritated crowds. Miraculous disappearances aside, people magically go from fields to bunkers seemingly at random with no explanation as to how, in the midst of all the chaos, they got from point A to point B. Apart from one scene in which Buck outbids a suprisingly docile herd of people for a seat on a plane, mass transit seems to continue and everyone gets to where they need to be, apparently because the script said so. Note to director: transition shots are vital to continuity. Then again, with the magnitude of such an event as the rapture, perhaps audience disorientation was a goal.

Having such low expectations going into the experience, I was pleasantly suprised to find my cringing in embarassment was confined to the previews of other Cloud 10 productions. Watching Mr. T first murder the english language and then defile its corpse was a particularly harrowing experience. I strongly recommend fast-fowarding through this lot.

As an evangelical tool, the movie's broken. It requires a huge suspension of disbelief from the viewer, a suspension which the less-than-intense characterization and flat-footed, laconic pacing completely fail to accomplish. For such a compelling and dramatic setup, this movie possesses all the urgency and suspense of a stunned cow.
Doug Sirman

LEFT BEHIND WASN'T THAT GREAT
Subject: Left_Behind
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2001
From: Richard

I've watched the video twice.

IMHO, the movie falls short of being useful for spread of the gospel.

LB encourages a paranoid view of the world. Christians are charged to be alert - not paranoid. The movie fuels the later rather than the former.

The movie also depends heavily upon a very specific interpretation of the tribulation and rapture - something that I find distracting and divisive. I'd rather see a film focusing on those things where there's little doubt in the Christian community.

Christ in his final days gave us a great commission and a great commandment. The commission tells us to go out making disciples. The Great commandment tells us to love the lord - and to love our neighbors as ourselves. So - where does LB fall with regard to those two? My opinion - it doesn't.

As a Christian and scholar, I don't find the movie useful for the purpose of the gospel. Morover, I don't even find it beneficial for Christianity, in general.

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