Left Behind: The Movie
|Left Behind: The Movie|
DVD cover art
|Directed by||Vic Sarin|
|Produced by||Joe Goodman
|Written by||Reverend Tim LaHaye
Jerry B. Jenkins
Alan B. McElroy
Clarence Gilyard, Jr.
|Music by||James Covell|
|Editing by||Michael Pacek|
|Distributed by||Cloud Ten Pictures|
|Release dates||September 4, 2000 (video), February 2, 2001 (theaters)|
|Running time||96 minutes|
Left Behind is a Christian based film released in 2000 and starring Kirk Cameron, Brad Johnson, Gordon Currie and Clarence Gilyard. It was directed by Vic Sarin. Left Behind was proclaimed by its creators as the biggest and most ambitious Christian film ever made. It is based on the Left Behind book series and also the first in a trilogy, followed by Left Behind II: Tribulation Force and Left Behind: World at War. The MPAA rated the film PG-13 for violence.
Cameron "Buck" Williams narrates, saying, "How do you describe both a beginning and an end? We should have known better, but we didn't. What does it matter what we think we know? In the end there's no denying the truth." A young television journalist for a news network called GNN, Buck reports from Israel about a new technology with which food will grow almost anywhere. He interviews Israeli scientist Chaim Rosenzweig, and praises him for creating a miracle. Suddenly, Arab Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets fly over, attempting to attack Israel with a vicious air raid. The sun disappears even though it is still in the mid-day. A missile hits near Buck and Chaim as they retreat to a military bunker. The jets start exploding and crashing down even though Israel forces didn't fire a single shot and a commander states they[clarification needed] how Israel "can't get those planes up". Buck runs outside with the news camera and records the drama as some GNN executives and reporters watch back in Chicago. The jets explode and crash to the ground and the entire force is destroyed.
The story shifts to pilot Rayford Steele, who has been called in for an emergency flight from New York to London, thus forcing him to abandon his son Raymie's birthday party. Despite his wife's and his daughter's protests, he sets out on the flight and leaves his family behind. Rayford's daughter, Chloe Steele, is leaving for her college exams. Buck, having decided to go to London for an investigation of the attack, boards Rayford's plane.
On the flight, a flight attendant, Hattie Durham, walks into the cockpit and asks who wants coffee and reveals she's taking a job at the UN and this is her last flight. Rayford ends up kissing Hattie outside the cockpit. Later during the flight, some passengers awaken to realize that several of their fellow passengers are missing. Panic sets in as Rayford and his crew try to contain this situation. Buck helps Hattie try to keep the passengers calm. Upon returning to the flight cockpit, they discover that people (later revealed to be Christians) are mysteriously disappearing worldwide and even planes are down from missing flight crews, and crashes everywhere. He is forced to turn the plane back and land in Chicago. Shortly after landing, Buck locates Rayford and asks him to fly him to New York City. Rayford refuses, saying that he has to be with his family, but tells Buck that he knows of a pilot. He asks Buck to go with him and they drive to his suburban home.
Meanwhile, Chloe is driving home from her college exams when she encounters a large traffic accident. She goes to check on a crashed semi, whose driver vanished. People are reporting abandoned cars and children missing from their seats. While Chloe is inspecting the carnage, her car is stolen by a hurt man and she is stranded on the wrecked highway. She eventually starts walking down the highway. Rayford discovers that his wife and son are missing. He and Buck are forced to stay in the house because of a military-enforced curfew. Rayford starts crying and smashes a mirror with his wife's Bible, which he later starts to read.
Chloe returns home and reunites with her father. Soon Chloe goes downstairs and discovers Buck sleeping on the couch. After conversing about her missing family, Chloe drives Buck to the airport and goes to look for her younger brother. Buck takes a plane to New York with pilot Ken Ritz. Rayford, trying to find Chloe, finally finds her in an elementary school and scolds her for running away. He apologizes and suggests they search the church because that is where they were most happy. Chloe refuses to go to church, saying that her mother was happiest when Ray was home. After Chloe returns home, Rayford goes to New Hope Village Church (the church his wife and son attended) and finds Pastor Bruce Barnes. Bruce has also been left behind; until now, he has never truly believed in God, which cost him his wife and children. A believer at last, he begs for forgiveness and asks God for a second chance to help people. Rayford enters the church and kneels next to Bruce, telling him that God already has used him. They then watch a videotape left by another Reverend Billings dealing with the Rapture, in which all true believers are taken to heaven, while the rest are left behind to endure the Tribulation—seven years of war and suffering.
When Buck gets to New York City, he finds that his friend Dirk Burton has been killed. While he is there, he takes a computer disc and is almost shot by a sniper. Buck decodes the computer disc and finds that someone is trying to bankrupt the UN in order to control the world's food supply. Rayford confronts Hattie, telling her that their "affair" was wrong, and that he wants her forgiveness. She leaves in a huff, but Rayford tells Chloe about God and she says she believes. Meanwhile, Buck flies back to Chicago to meet with an old friend, CIA agent Alan Thompkins. After the meeting, Alan is killed in a car bombing, which Buck narrowly escapes. He goes to Rayford's house, because they are the only ones Buck knows in Chicago. Taking the wounded Buck to New Hope Church (as a makeshift hospital), Rayford and Bruce show Buck the tape that Reverend Billings made. Buck, however, does not fully believe the claims, and he goes to the UN to warn Chaim about the impending mistake. Rayford and Chloe attempt to stop him, because he doesn't have God on his side. Buck ignores the Steele's advice and goes to the UN anyway. After his departure, Rayford and Chloe pray for him.
At the UN, Buck sees the plans for the new Israeli temple, and realizes that everything Rayford, Chloe and Bruce told him was true. Before the meeting, Buck finally accepts God and asks Him to show him The Way. When God complies, he realizes that UN Secretary-General Nicolae Carpathia is the Antichrist when he reveals his plan for world domination. His plans for rebuilding the temple of Israel are a logical first step to this end. He shoots Jonathan Stonagal and Joshua Todd-Cothran, who are behind the plot to bankrupt the UN. Then, Carpathia brainwashes the new "kings and queens" (the UN delegates set to represent him in the coming years) into thinking that Stonagal rushed a guard, took his gun and then shot Cothran and himself. Everyone, even the press, believes him except Buck, who leaves and returns to the church, where he resolves to fight Carpathia with the help of his friends. Narrating, Buck says the "seven years of peace" declared by Nicolae will be the seven worst years mankind has ever seen, and that faith is all we need.
- Kirk Cameron as Buck Williams
- Brad Johnson as Captain Rayford Steele
- Gordon Currie as Nicolae Carpathia
- Chelsea Noble as Hattie Durham
- Clarence Gilyard as Bruce Barnes
- Janaya Stephens as Chloe Steele
- Colin Fox as Chaim Rosenzweig
- Daniel Pilon as Jonathan Stonagal
- Tony De Santis as Joshua Todd-Cothran
- Jack Langedijk as Dirk Burton
- Krista Bridges as Ivy Gold
- Thomas Hauff as Steve Plank
- Neil Crone as Ken Ritz
- T.D. Jakes as Pastor Vernon Billings (appearing on a video to be played post-Rapture)
- Rebecca St. James as Buck's Assistant
- Bob Carlisle as GNN Reporter
- John Hagee as an unnamed passenger on Captain Steele's flight, where many passengers (including Hagee) disappear after the Rapture
Cloud Ten Pictures licensed the rights to the first two Left Behind novels from Namesake Entertainment, which had licensed them from the books' authors. Filming commenced in early May 2000 and continued for a total of 31 days.
An Ontario quarry was used for the scenes of Israel. Bowmanville Zoo's Mike Hackenberger commented, "Camels sell the look.... As a prop, camels are great. You can move 'em around, you can stick 'em there, and you see a camel on sand, you know it's desert. . . They might not fit through the eye of the needle, but without them, this movie would have been a disaster. There should be at least one camel in every movie."
Some of the extras who played the saved were noted Christian ministers, most notably Jack Van Impe and John Hagee (who are featured on the airplane shortly before the mass disappearance; Hagee was also very instrumental in the movie's promotion) and T.D. Jakes (who appears in the video that the group watches, telling them what to expect in the post-Rapture world). Notable Christian musicians were also used as extras; Bob Carlisle and Rebecca St. James appeared as news anchors, and the Christian group Jake appeared as police guards towards the end of the movie.
Two CD's of music from the film have been released.
On October 3, 2000, Reunion Records released Left Behind: The Movie Soundtrack, featuring a collection of songs from and inspired by the movie. The CD includes these fifteen tracks:
- Never Been Unloved (Bruce’s Song) – Michael W. Smith
- I Believe In You – Joy Williams
- Sky Falls Down (Israel Is Attacked) – Third Day
- I Need A Miracle – Plus One
- Hide My Soul – Avalon
- Can´t Wait For You To Return – Fred Hammond
- Midnight Cry (Closing Theme) – Various Artists
- Fly (Chloe’s Song) – LaRue
- Believer (Buck’s Song) – Jake[disambiguation needed]
- Come Quickly Lord – Rebecca St. James
- After All(Rayford’s Song) – Bob Carlisle
- Live For The Lord (Irene’s Song) – Kathy Troccoli
- All The Way To Heaven – V*Enna
- No Fear (Panic In The City) – Clay Crosse
- Left Behind (Main Theme) – Bryan Duncan & SHINEmk
On February 6, 2001, Reunion released the second CD, titled Left Behind: The Original Motion Picture Score. The CD featured the orchestral score composed by James Covell, and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Lake Avenue Choir. The CD includes these seventeen tracks:
- Left Behind Main Title
- Surprise Attack
- Rayford's Conversion
- Dirk's in Trouble
- Rebuild the Temple
- Rayford Comes Home
- Loss of a Friend
- Buck's Mission
- Chloe's Choice
- One Left, the Other Taken
- I Don't Want to Lose You
- Prayers for Buck
- Seven Years
- The Final Chapter
Reception and release
The film received all around critical backlash and negative reviews. It received a 12% positive rating among reviewers on the Rotten Tomatoes website. The Washington Post's Desson Howe, described it as "...a blundering cringefest, thanks to unintentionally laughable dialogue, hackneyed writing and uninspired direction. The more this movie tries, the worse it gets. Its sincerity ends up becoming a bulging bull's-eye for rotten-tomato throwers."
The film was released on DVD first. According to the filmmakers, this was to build interest in the film. The first DVD, released on October 31, 2000, featured coupons for the upcoming theatrical release, allowing those going to see it to get in for the price of a matinee ticket. The pre-theatrical release DVD sold fairly well, despite negative reviews.
The film was released theatrically on February 2, 2001. Minor changes from the DVD version were made. The visual effects of the attack on Israel at the beginning of the film were updated, looking more realistic. Over the end credits, the music video for the song "Midnight Cry" was played, replacing the theme song by Bryan Duncan and Shine.
The film opened seventeenth in the nation over the February 2–4 weekend, making $2,158,780. The film went on to gross $4,224,065, barely surpassing its budget.
Owing to dissatisfaction with the quality of this movie and its sequels, LaHaye filed suit against Namesake Entertainment and Cloud Ten Pictures in July 1999, claiming breach of contract. On July 3, 2008, Tim LaHaye and Cloud Ten settled legal disputes on the film adaptations of the book series. Part of the agreement grants LaHaye an opportunity to remake the series. He asserts:
My dream has always been to enter the movie theater with a first-class, high-quality movie that is grippingly interesting, but also is true to the biblical storyline -- and that was diluted in the first attempt. But Lord willing, we are going to see this thing made into the movie that it should be, and that all the world sees it before the real Rapture comes.
As of October 1, 2010 the rights to the Left Behind film series have officially been reclaimed by Cloud Ten Pictures.
- All quotes from people affiliated with Left Behind: The Movie are from the "Making of Left Behind" featurette.
- Janaya Stephens, "The Making of Left Behind: The Movie." Left Behind: The Movie DVD Special Features. Cloud Ten Pictures, 2005.
- Rotten Tomatoes: Left Behind: The Movie
- Washington Post review: 'Left Behind': Heaven Help Us
- Box Office Mojo: Left Behind Weekend Gross Results
-  Christian Film News: 'Left Behind' author LaHaye sues 'Left Behind—The Movie' producers
-  Cloud Ten Pictures website: LaHaye suit press release
-  Christian Cinema website: LaHaye to Remake "Left Behind" Stories
- Forbes, Bruce David and Jeanne Halgren Kilde (eds.), Rapture, Revelation, and the End Times: Exploring the Left Behind Series. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. ISBN 1-4039-6525-0
- Frykholm, Amy David. Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America. Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-515983-7
- Reed, David A., LEFT BEHIND Answered Verse by Verse. Morrisville, NC: Lulu.com, 2008. ISBN 1-4357-0873-3
- Rossing, Barbara R., The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation, New York: Basic Books, 2004. ISBN 0-8133-4314-3
- Shuck, Glenn W.. Marks Of The Beast: The Left Behind Novels And The Struggle For Evangelical Identity. New York University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8147-4005-7
- Gribben, Crawford, Rapture Fiction and the Evangelical Crisis. Evangelical Press, 2006. ISBN 0-85234-610-7.
- Snow Flesher, LeAnn, "Left Behind? The Facts Behind the Fiction". Valley Forge, Judson Press, 2006. ISBN 0-8170-1490-X