The Christmas Candle: Five Reasons To See This Film

Image by EchoLight Studios

Last week, I was invited to attend an advance screening of The Christmas Candle, a film backed by fledgling EchoLight Studios, whose mission is “to produce and distribute high-quality faith and family-friendly entertainment.” Unfortunately, many read those words “faith and family-friendly” with more than a little trepidation. We’ve all seen ‘feel-good, faith-based’ movies. They look like something a couple of freshman film majors put together for a semester project. The casting is sub-par; the dialogue is stilted and preachy; the sets aren’t so much ‘sets’ as they are locations the filmmakers could find for little or no cost.

EchoLight came to be precisely because of the failure of companies to put out quality movies with a positive message that appeal to wide audiences. At the premiere, EchoLight CEO and former Senator Rick Santorum noted the company “wants to become the Pixar of faith movies.”   As mentioned previously, EchoLight has partnered with Liberty University to help aspiring filmmakers learn the skills they need to put out quality fare with a message and a heart.

Check out the trailer to get an overview of the story.

Personally, I thought The Christmas Candle was excellent. I laughed. I cried. I identified with the struggles and experiences of the characters and more importantly for me, it left me pondering some of the concepts of the film days after viewing. While there is a time and place for fluff movies that we enjoy and mentally discard, it’s always nice to find a movie that makes us think.

Here are five things that set The Christmas Candle apart and make it a must-see movie for audiences of all kinds:

Image by Echolight Studios

  1. Talented Cast ~ This movie is packed with actors who have real talent. Every one of the leads has a rich background of stage and screen experience. Male lead Sam Matheson is a Scottish actor whose screen credits include Sherlock Holmes, Clash of the Titans, and the cable series The Tudors. Female lead Samantha Barks captivated audiences last year as Eponine in Les Miserables. The supporting cast is composed of solid performers including Lesley Manville (Maleficent, A Christmas Carol), Sylvester McCoy (Dr. Who, The Hobbit), and John Hannah (The Mummy, cable series Spartacus). Having a cast of veteran actors from the UK gives the film a real authenticity and the performances never feel contrived.

  2. Experienced Crew ~ Santorum was eager to point out the the head of cinematography for The Christmas Candle is ‘the same guy who did the Harry Potter films.’ In addition, the set decorator is from Game of Thrones, the hair/makeup team worked on Les Miserables and Captain America, and the visual effects team worked on Great Gatsby and Gravity. The wardrobe was exquisite with dapper top hats and dresses so lovely I would almost--almost--be willing to endure a corset in order to wear them. Having a professional crew means the movie looks and feels ‘real.’

  3. PG Rating ~ How many movies have you seen lately with a PG rating? It’s the forgotten segment of film these days. We have plenty of animated G-rated fare, and then we jump to edgy PG-13 films that typically include a few cringe-worthy moments where we question whether our kids should be watching. Not in The Christmas Candle.

Image by EchoLight Studios

  1. A Christmas Movie that talks about Christmas ~ Imagine that! Think about it; many of the holiday classics mention Santa or presents, but they aren’t really about Christmas. You’d have to go back 50 years to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to see one that includes the story of Christ’s birth. As this movie centers around a young pastor and the congregants in his town, we see several scenes of Advent services and the lighting of   Advent candles inside the beautiful stone church of Gladsbury. When is the last time you saw a Christmas movie that included Advent?

  2. Themes that Make you Think ~ Does moving forward mean we have to abandon traditions of the past? Is faith untested really faith? What happens when that thing you want to happen, doesn't? Is it enough to merely wish something would happen, or should we be the change we wish to see? The smart thing about this movie is that it’s not overly saccharine; some characters die, some prayers are not answered--at least not in the way they were expected. This movie is a great setup for discussions with friends or family, or even for gut-level introspection.

The Christmas Candle opens nationwide in limited release on Friday, November 22. It is in approximately 800 theatres but will expand if it is well received. Check out the movie’s website to find a theatre near you, and if you go, please come back and share your thoughts here!