Pastor Richard Wurmbrand and his wife Sabina were active in Lutheran ministry in Romania during the 1970s Communist takeover of Eastern Europe. The Communist regme sought to corrupt the church by ‘uniting’ the denominations as a political body rather than as a ministry. Richard and Sabina dared to stand up against the tyranny both by speaking against it and by illegally proselytizing their faith to Romanians who struggled under the heavy yoke of the Communist government. Because of these infractions and because they helped harbor wanted Christians, Richard was arrested and tortured for his faith. He languished for fourteen years in a cruel Communist prison, but he did not give up his faith in Christ.
Production Quality (2 points)
Though this production was somewhat low-budget, there is still a very clear commitment to making it as authentic and gritty as possible. Video quality and audio quality are among these good production elements. Although there are some moments of oddly poor lighting, the sets, locations, and props are very realistic and demonstrate great attention to detail and great care to make the surroundings as realistic as possible. This is definitely the best that could have been done with the funding available, which is all we ask of productions. Though there is some choppy editing throughout, it’s obvious that this creative did all they could with this production, which is all a film maker needs to do.
Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)
Another thing film makers can do to ensure a mostly successful effort is to use good source material. The story of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand is a very poignant and unfortunately true narrative that definitely deserved to be made into a movie. However, one has to question whether the high amount of heavy-handed narration was necessary since it greatly stunts character growth and plot development. Even still, the serious commitment to have each character speak in the original Romanian dialect is very intriguing to say the least as it further shows care for realism and attention to detail that we rarely find in Christian film. Moreover, because of the narration that punctuates and explains a majority of the scenes, the movie comes off as too much of a random collection of loosely connected scenes rather than an engaging story about real people we can relate to. There are also a few too many docu-drama elements. Nevertheless, the strong content of this story keeps the plot from being worse than it could have been as the tragic realities of religious persecution at the hands of tyrannical regimes is brought to the big screen. Thus, many audiences will find this movie to be worthwhile.
Acting Quality (2.5 points)
Although most of the cast members are not allowed to fully act due to the high amount of narration that only allows for rare moments of dialogue, the portions they do act in are definitely great. The culturally authentic casting and the good use of the original language is also a huge plus. Emotions are mostly good with only a few instances of being slightly overdone, but on the whole, this is the best area of the film, and it rounds out a job well done.
Christian films are still getting better by using source material and by being committed to great productions. This creative team is off to a great start in their movie-making careers, so it will be very interesting to see what they come up with next. Until then, Tortured for Christ is an above-average film that carries a great message and a stirring theme packaged in a realistic production that will make a lasting impression on many who watch it.
Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points