Genre: drama, biographical
Directed by: David Leo Schultz
Story: David Leo Schultz, Ashleigh Phillips
Produced by: David Leo Schultz, Dave Mullin’s, Ryan Bodie, David Holechek
Cast: David Schultz, Michael Koch, Wolfgang Bodison, James Kyson
If you’ve ever imagined what a Christian song writer looks like, you may picture a clean-cut, well-dressed, everything-is-fine-with-the-world kind of person. If you’ve ever met one, or read stories of those who have written the timeless hymns and worship material, you will realise that many of these Christian song writers, have more often than not, been dragged through trials and struggles that only God could save them from. And from these ashes, beautiful music has been created.
The story of Rich Mullins is no exception. Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, I, along with thousands of Christians around the world, sang along to his songs either at church or to recording artists like Amy Grant who helped make his songs famous.
With songs such as ‘Awesome God’ and ‘Sing your praise to the Lord’ (Amy Grant), his music was such an iconic sound of that era and this movie based on the story of his life, gives those songs yet another level of depth.
Growing up on a farm with a strict father who can’t see the value of Rich’s talents as a musician, Rich leaves home to find his own way. He attends college, makes friends and falls madly in love with Jess, but this leads to a heartache he never recovers from.
Rich develops his songwriting, puts together a band and writes honest Christian music which is eventually picked up by a label and begins to successfully sell records through other artists as well as his own records.
As Rich struggles with success, alcoholism and depression, seemingly stemming from his dysfunctional relationship with his father and the break-up of his relationship with girlfriend Jess, he continues to compose songs which challenge some of the leaders and members of the church with his honesty.
Rich’ s ongoing struggle to fit in to a world that doesn’t fit him, is a constant thread throughout the film. Rich doesn’t fit the mould of what a farmer’s son should be, he didn’t have the knack or desire of running the farm after him.
With his ripped jeans, bare feet and disheveled hair, he doesn’t fit the mould of a clean-cut Christian musician. Even so, Rich remains true to who he is and his determination to seek God out.
Despite his great success, Rich seems at his happiest when he is living on a reservation in New Mexico teaching children music.
What I love about this movie is how it shows that God will use us whatever state we are in. Rich’s life was messy and troubled and yet his faith in God, who meets us right where we are, gets him through the darkest of days.
The movie begins with a quote from Brennan Manning, preacher and author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, “I am now utterly convinced that on judgement day, the Lord Jesus will ask you one question and one question only – did you believe that I loved you?”
This is echoed with, “I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are, not as you should have been, because none of us are as we should have been.” And this is evident throughout Mullin’s life and the theme we see repeated throughout the film, that God doesn’t wait for you to be perfect before he uses you, he takes you as you are.
As the movie concludes with Mullins’ tragic death, we see his legacy continued through his music and the people he touched during his life.
This movie is an inspiring look at the life of a musical prodigy who found Jesus and never let him go, who Jesus loved so much to not leave him as he found him, and who never really fit into this world. Those who are familiar with his work will be particularly interested to see this film. I give it a rating of 3.75/5 – a worthwhile watch.
You can find this and more great movies at the Heritage Films Australia website:
First published for Christian Today Australia, 22nd April 2016
(c) Rebecca Moore 2016