Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fall from Grace (2007) movie review

I was going through my reviews on Epinions.com and came across this one on the film, Fall From Grace, about the Westboro Baptist Church.  Given that Fred Phelps just passed away, I thought now would be a good time to repost it here.  In this case, I've made no edits except for the addition of this introduction.

The Westboro Baptist Church is known for one thing:  Hating gay people.  I’ve seen them with their signs, including God Hates America and Thank God for IEDs.  When I came across Fall From Grace, I decided to watch it, mostly because it wasn’t that long and I didn’t really know that much about the Westboro Baptist Church.  (I didn’t understand the thing with soldiers and IEDs until watching this.)

The movie is simply interviews with the Phelps family and footage of protests.  The church was founded and run by Fred Phelps, who had 13 children.  Nine of those children and their children attend the church.  For some reason, Fred Phelps as chosen homosexuality to rail against, citing Leviticus.  As another interviewee points out, Leviticus mentions other things you shouldn’t do, like mix fibers in your clothes and plant different crops in the same field.  (Sites like http://www.godhatesshrimp.com/ were set up to mock this.)

At this point, it seems like the Phelps family isn’t going to win any converts.  The documentary shows people interacting with the family as they protest.  One woman comments that it’s crazy that she’s going to Hell because of her haircut.  (Women who have short hair are called a less-than-polite term for lesbian by the Phelps family.)  In fact, four of the Phelps children left the family as soon as they were able.  Two were interviewed by phone and described Fred Phelps as being a horrible person.

The movie is almost all footage with some text thrown in to explain things.  It’s not heavy on the commentary.  It would be interesting to have some sort of professional analysis, psychological or otherwise, on what makes Fred Phelps the way he is.  He seems passionate to the point of maybe having some disorder.  Some of his children that believe as he does aren’t as extreme, making me wonder.  (One thing I noticed was that the grandchildren also spout the God-hates-America rhetoric.  I have to wonder, as I have with other similar documentaries, as to whether or not the children will grow up to regret what they’ve said.)

This is one of those situations where I honestly think that the Phelps family is simply making themselves look like fools.  At several points, people point out how crazy they are.  Someone mentions that if you bring up Topeka, KS in certain places, people there will say something along the lines of, “Oh, yeah.  Where those crazy people live.”  They come across as so vehement and so in everyone’s face that most people can’t get past their hatred.  Instead of making people turn to their version of God, most people are thinking of how they can get out of the line of fire.  (If you’re not with us, you’re going to be called names and told you’re going to rot in hell for all of eternity.)

I got this streaming through Netflix.  I mention this because there may be bonus material on the DVD.  The movie doesn’t go into great detail about the Phelps family or other people interviewed.  It is interesting to note that Fred Phelps was disbarred for being too unethical.  It would be interesting to see how many of his children attended college.  It would be interesting to see if any of his grandchildren socialize with peers outside of the family.  I’d at least be interested in knowing where the name came from. 

1 comment :

Stephen said...

I almost hope there is a hell so that Phelps can have gone there. Also see http://www.bubblews.com/news/2703112-god-must-hate-fred-phelps-was-he-ever-in-a-039state-of-grace039