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Originally published March 26, 2009 at 2:45 PM | Page modified March 26, 2009 at 2:46 PM

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Movie review

The passion of "The Cross" is its greatest virtue

"The Cross: The Arthur Blessitt Story" is an evangelical documentary that follows the minister's 40-year, cross-carrying trek around the world. In telling Blessitt's story, however, Christian director Matthew Crouch glosses over details that a more objective filmmaker would consider essential.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2 stars

"The Cross: The Arthur Blessitt Story," a documentary with Blessitt, directed by Matthew Crouch. 93 minutes. Rated PG for some violent images. Several theaters.

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As the kind of evangelical documentary that would typically be shown on the church circuit, "The Cross" shouldn't be judged by mainstream standards. It's got a fervent Christian agenda and serves its purpose with passion. By renting multiplex cinemas to distribute its films, Gener8Xion Entertainment (a Hollywood-based company whose previous releases include "One Night with the King" and "Noëlle") deserves credit for tenaciously competing in an inhospitable market.

In telling the story of globe-trotting evangelist Arthur Blessitt, however, director Matthew Crouch allows Christian priorities to gloss over details that a more objective filmmaker would consider essential. We follow now-68-year-old Blessitt as he carries a 12-foot wooden cross around the world to spread the love of Jesus, but we never learn how his 40-year mission (beginning in late-'60s Hollywood) was financed or thoroughly documented; we never meet his extended family, his wife or all but one of his children; and we never get beyond surface biography to fully appreciate Blessitt's deep-rooted devotion.

Crouch also relies too heavily on conspicuously low-budget techniques, such as using "Google Earth" to illustrate Blessitt's trek, or stock footage and re-enactments that don't hold up to scrutiny. And yet, by any standard, Blessitt's story is clearly worth telling. Surviving in war zones and hostile environments around the world, the man possesses an influential goodness (some might say divinity) that has protected him through countless ordeals. Anyone who's still on their own spiritual quest would do well to learn from his example.

Jeff Shannon: j.sh@verizon.net

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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