A Thief in the Night (film)
|A Thief in the Night|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Donald W. Thompson|
|Produced by||Donald W. Thompson|
|Written by||Russell S. Doughten Jr.
Donald W. Thompson
Russell S. Doughten Jr.
|Cinematography||John P. Leiendecker Jr.|
|Editing by||Wes Phillippi|
|Running time||69 min.|
A Thief in the Night is a 1972 Christian end times film produced by Russell S. Doughten. It is the first and best known film in Doughten's four-part series on the Rapture and Second Coming of Christ. The films together are often referred to collectively as the "Thief" or "Rapture" series.
According to Christianity Today, "the film brings to life the dispensational view of Matthew 24:36-44," part of the Olivet discourse in which Jesus describes people being taken suddenly out of the world while others watch and remain behind. The film's premillennial dispensationalist interpretation of the Bible's end times prophecies is popular among U.S. evangelicals, but is a minority view among Christians globally.
In the film, everyone must receive the mark of the beast, consisting of three rows of the digits "0110" written on their forehead or hand, or they will not be allowed to use money in any way, even to buy food or water. This number in binary is six, hence having it repeated three times suggests the biblical number attributed to the end times. The use of the number 666 as a mandatory marking of service to the Antichrist is a common interpretation of Revelation 13:16-18.
Patty Jo Myers is a young woman who considers herself a Christian because she occasionally reads her Bible and goes to church regularly. She refuses to believe the warnings of her friends and family that she will go through the Great Tribulation if she does not accept Jesus. One morning, she awakens to find that her husband and millions of others have suddenly disappeared. Gradually, Patty realizes that the Rapture, an event some interpret from the Bible, has happened and she and everyone else left behind are entering into the Great Tribulation, the last days of Earth, dominated by the Antichrist. A government system called UNITE (United Nations Imperium of Total Emergency) is set up and those who do not receive the mark identifying them with UNITE will be arrested. Patty desperately tries to avoid the law and the mark but is captured by UNITE. Patty escapes but is cornered by UNITE on a bridge, and falls from the bridge to her death.
Patty then awakens, this time for real, and realizes that all she had experienced was only a dream. Her relief is short-lived when the radio announces that millions of people have disappeared. Horrified, Patty frantically searches for her husband only to find him missing too. Traumatized and distraught, Patty realizes that the Rapture has indeed occurred and she's been left behind.
A Thief in the Night has been seen by an estimated 300 million people worldwide. It was a pioneer in the genre of Christian film, bringing rock music and elements of horror films to a genre then dominated by family-friendly evangelism. A quarter century later, the authors of the broadly successful Left Behind series of books and films have acknowledged their debt to Thief. Indeed, even the title "Left Behind" echoes the refrain of Norman's theme music for A Thief in the Night.