As I sat in Sutherland Auditorium Wednesday night for the preview of Fox’s feature film “I Am,” I wondered to myself what type of movie it would turn out to be. I was prepping myself on how to hold my laughter in if cheesy scenes began to flow, or formulating what I would say if the film tried to overly grasp those in the “secular” world by tossing out foundational theology as some films have unfortunately done. However, I was more than pleasantly surprised.
The film, which will be released to DVD Nov. 2, follows the individual struggles of ten different characters in the city of Los Angeles. One of the major charms that this film possesses is its unique uses of the Ten Commandments. The film helped to broaden the terms of each commandment for modern application.
“I Am” updates 10 commandments to modern context
One example of this was found in the illustration of the second commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Usually, when people hear this one, they automatically assume it means that you cannot use God’s name as a swear word. However, in “I Am”, a Lance, a corporate tycoon, promotes his product “God Water” demonstrating an abuse of God’s name by demeaning it to a mere product.
Another different application of one of the commandments was that of, “I am the Lord your God. There shall be no other gods before me.” Angelica Vita is a very prideful character whose hunger to survive terminal cancer is overwhelming. She refuses to let God have a say in her life, instead trying to fight the forces of nature even if that means killing herself in the process. Through her actions, she tries to make herself “god”.
Film depicts a personal, relational God in everyday life
The film shows God communicating with each of the characters in intimate and unique ways. “One of the things that we wanted to make clear,” director/writer John Ward said, “was to show that God doesn’t have a relationship with 6 billion people, but that He has a unique one-on-one relationship with 6 billion people individually.” The “character” portrayal of God was deep and, I must say, realistic, which is something of a rarity when it comes to traditional “Christian” films. There were definitely moments when I felt like I’ve heard God ask me some of the exact same questions He asked the characters.
Seeing the Ten Commandments in a modern setting gave me a renewed urge to take another look at those old rules. After hearing them all throughout my Christian upbringing, I can’t help but view them as surface rules that are not applicable to the more “gray” areas of my life. Yet, “I Am” helped to broaden my understanding and purpose of those Commandments. God didn’t give them to us to ruin our lives; He gave them to us for our own benefit. As the film pictures, breaking these commandments only adds to already-sore wounds that each of us carry.
“I Am” is a step in the right direction
“I Am” is an optimistic step in filmmaking for the Christian community. The film does a fantastic job of bringing God into the more “gray” areas of life which I haven’t quite seen on screen before. While “I Am” is still true to the Bible, it does not make its viewer feel ashamed or outcast. Instead, it prompts the viewer to ask questions about their own personal walk as well as to encourage those, who have not yet allowed God into their lives, to question their view of how God really sees them despite their flaws.