April 19, 2024

“The Hopeful”

Justin Kim

In April of this year, Hope Studios, the cinematic branch of Hope Channel International, will release their next film, “The Hopeful.” It starts with the call of William Miller after his experiences in studying the books of Daniel and Revelation. Through his encounters with Joshua V. Himes, Miller’s preaching and messages swell to become the Millerite movement. The film treats well the Millerite experience of the Great Disappointment. The focus then shifts to two of its followers, James and Ellen White, and their subsequent leadership.

The film clocks in at approximately 90 minutes and is an abridgment of the 150-minute “Tell the World” film from 2016. There are some notable differences, however. “The Hopeful” is prefaced with J. N. Andrews and his two children on their missionary voyage to Switzerland and epilogues with their arrival. Intermittently the children ask questions to their father, whose answers set up different flashbacks of Adventist pioneer history. The film also incorporates songs by two-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Jonas Myrin.

Because the film is reduced, there may be some points of confusion. Whereas Hiram Edson’s answer of the heavenly sanctuary is depicted in “Tell the World,” the Great Disappointment doesn’t seem to be resolved in “The Hopeful.” Further, William Miller and Joshua V. Himes simply disappear halfway through the narrative. Moreover, one scene, in particular, was cut awkwardly, resulting in inconsistent eyelines.

Despite these minor observations, the film overall is one of high cinematic quality that captures the disillusionment, but also the spiritual passion, of those New England young adults. The narrative captures the difficulty, improbability, yet success of a small community becoming the global movement of Seventh-day Adventists. There are spurts of humorous dialogue; the main actors are convincing; and the visuals are simply striking. Overall, this film explains well the historical and theological foundations of the Adventist Church, including the inception of the denomination’s name and its beliefs.

While seasoned Adventists may not gain new insights, other audiences may be inspired by our origins. Furthermore, it is a grand opportunity to invite any friend of the Adventist movement. On April 17 and 18 in select theaters across the country, many will learn of Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath who created all in the beginning, and the Lord of the Advent who will return at the end.