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Matthew Crouch’s The Cross

Imagine what an inquisitive filmmaker like Errol Morris or Werner Herzog could have done with the peculiar true-life story of Los Angeles evangelist Arthur Blessitt, the self-proclaimed “Minister of the Sunset Strip,” who, on Christmas Day 1969, decided to walk around the world carrying a 12-foot wooden cross to spread the word of Jesus. As the focus of director Matthew Crouch’s documentary, Blessitt is a fascinating character—a deeply religious man with an engaging storytelling style and a bountiful sense of humor who didn’t let ideological differences stop him from reaching out to people in war zones or impenetrable jungles. At a time when those of faith are often stigmatized in popular entertainment as bigots or imbeciles, Blessitt’s advocacy of compassionate, unconditional love is a meaningful corrective. But where Morris or Herzog might have turned Blessitt’s highly improbable 40-year journey into a thoughtful exploration of humanity’s quixotic desire to find meaning in an existence devoid of any such reassurances, The Cross opts to be a wan inspirational film that rams its Christian message down your throat—which is, ironically, the exact opposite of Blessitt’s soft-sell.


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