Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Heaven Is for Real": through the eyes of a pastor's 5-year-old son

Heaven Is for Real” (directed by Randall Wallace, book by Todd Burpo) has the narrative style of a “Christian Film” (distributed by TriStar, which usually handles these films for Sony) and somewhat weaker acting and characters than the recent “God’s Not Dead”.  But some of the points are interesting. 

The basic situation is that when Todd’s 4-year-old son Colton nearly dies of a burst appendix, he sees visions of Heaven and can narrate things about family history he couldn’t possibly know.  And his narrative matches that of another child in India whose painting of Jesus matches exactly what he says he saw.  For one thing, Todd saw his unborn (and later miscarried) sister, as a small child. He says that everyone is young.  Todd makes the remark that even Einstein predicted that in the afterlife time would not behave as it does for us. It's significant that the surgeons say that Colton never flatlined, so his brain never went completely out, as did Eben Alexander as he describes in his book (on Book reviews, March 30, 2013). 
The scenes in Heaven are rather brief and typical, although there is an emphasis on flowers and plants with blue and violet colors, which is what you might see on another planet around a red dwarf star.  The painting of Jesus (by the child) makes him look attractive, with a neat beard, some visible chest hair, but youthful skin.  The odd thought is that he would have been viewed as attractive in the gay community.
Todd owns a contracting business in Nebraska (the film was shot in Manitoba), and has a closely knit family life, as do other members of the small Methodist church.  He serves in the volunteer fire department, too. 

When Todd starts preaching about his son’s heaven visions, some members feel driven away.  Divisions occur in the church, and Todd is about to be asked to leave. He is in deep financial trouble with medical bills (no health insurance?) and the friendly banker wants to help him out, but he is too proud to accept.

The official site is here

Todd Burpo is played by Greg Kinnear, and his wife by Kelly Reilly. Connor Corum plays Colton. 

Wikipedia attribution link for Nebraska scene. 

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