Directed by: P. William Grimm
Written by: P. William Grimm
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The Reverend's Secret Mission
Reviewing documentaries can be a tough task. It always comes down to three things. How well the film is put together. What you know about the subject, and what the film allows you to learn about the subject. Let me present a hypothetical. I could create a documentary about my first pair of socks. I could expertly research what is left of them, and expertly produce a visually amazing film revealing their history. I could do everything right but still - would you care? Maybe if you were a sock historian, but aside from that, probably not.
I am by no means comparing the life of Reverend Brian Hession to a sock. His life as presented makes for some excellent documentary fodder. Bringing the achievements of this man to light seems natural, considering his endeavors within the religious film scene of the time. Although the themes are not the same, "The Reverend's Secret Mission" faces some of the same bordering issues of Hession's movies. Getting people to watch and endorse or in today's world, share.
And it should be watched and shared. Brian Hession was a fighter. A man of the cloth with a love for film - and a vision of it's importance and impact. Although at first considered a pain in the behind, with the Church not knowing just how to proceed with this 'film' thing, things eventually changed. But there's so much more to the story. From his wartime service, to the Church not endorsing him, to being an advisor and script writer and cancer. Hession really did fight for what he wanted to achieve. And this is the basis for the film, spanning decades and decades of life and service.
And yes. The Reverend's Secret Mission is put together quite well. Production-wise, this title is on par with pretty much anything you'll see on your screen - including the big time studio docs or heavily budgeted indie titles. It's just as you'd expect. A narrated history featuring interviews, thoughts and footage/pics from days long gone. And it is interesting - but suffers one massive flaw. It's really long.
This documentary is around two and a half hours. That's huge! When speaking documentary terms, most productions will run around an hour or an hour and a half. The more lengthy ones clocking in at around 90 minutes, generally revolve around some important issue of the day. Bio based docs, even of the most famous people, generally don't run for two and a half hours. When considering the narrative nature of these movies, and the never ending archival footage, anything much longer causes the brain to shut down. The production becomes background noise - no matter how interesting the subject.
This is the case here. I had to watch The Reverend's Secret Mission in 2 sittings. It wasn't that the content wasn't interesting, or that the film was badly put together. It was simply because it was so long.
There's really not much else to write here. As a production this is a sound title. The Reverend's life itself is, indeed, interesting and worthy of a documentary. Had this movie been an hour shorter, I have no doubt I would have given a higher rating. But it all comes down to this... I couldn't stay focused for the entire length of the title. It took 2 sittings. Perhaps I'm simply not patient enough? Feel free to drop a comment and let me know what you think.