Growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, I was sure of two things. One, if I believed Jesus Christ was the Son of God and accepted him into my heart I was a Christian for life. I still adhere to this, although I believe you do have to attempt to live by the guidelines given to us in the Bible. Next, Jesus was going to take all the believers in the Second Coming and leave us sinners to suffer the reign of the Antichrist in the Tribulation if I didn't. I also believe this to be true, although I'm not making any claims to knowing when or how it will all transpire.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Baptist denominations had a series of independent films they would circulate through churches, inviting neighborhoods to view what were dubbed the "Thief" or "Rapture" series. It was obvious that they were designed to scare folks into becoming Christians for fear of being left on Earth after the second coming of Christ, referred to as the Rapture.
Who wouldn't want to become a Christian if it meant you could avoid all the horrific events of the Tribulation (seven years of hardship and plagues)? It meant you didn't have to stay on a planet where you couldn't buy food or clothing without the Mark of the Beast. You'd be sent to the gallows if you were discovered to be a Believer after realizing your mistake in not becoming a Christian before the Rapture.
If you're a Christian, please don't take this article to be making fun of people who believe in the End Times and the Rapture. I do believe in all the events talked about in the Book of Revelation and beyond. I just don't claim to know which ones are to be taken literally or figuratively. One thing I do know is, the whole concept continues to inspire and pique the interest of audiences worldwide to the point that filmmakers and authors successfully release bestsellers and movies about it to this day.
The latest evidence of this is the upcoming remake of Christian authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins' New York Times Bestseller "Left Behind." The series was already adapted into three films starring Kirk Cameron in the lead role. They were all marginally successful as low-budget independent religious films. You can still buy them in Christian bookstores and mainstream movie stores nationwide. Some accepted them as scripture, while others wrote them off as sensationalistic tripe featuring a former Hollywood actor that went bonkers.
I can certainly say that producers Cloud Ten Pictures have upped the ante with their latest big-screen adaptation of "Left Behind." It's filled with an all-star cast fitting of the disaster films of the 1970s. Nicolas Cage plays the lead character of airline pilot Rayford Steele, who is flying a commercial jetliner when the Rapture happens. Many of the passengers of his flight disappear suddenly and those left aboard want to know how and why. It also features "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks and Disney Princess Ashley Tisdale in supporting roles. Lea Thompson ("Switched at Birth") and Chad Michael Murray ("One Tree Hill") round out the ensemble cast.
Producer Paul LaLonde promises the new "Left Behind" will be different from the original 2000 version in another way as well. He states that the new film is geared to reach a larger audience by blending disaster film aspects of the Rapture event with "End Times" teachings. The official trailer definitely leads viewers to believe this. It's full of people running, planes crashing, near mid-air collisions, and shattering windows to thrill onlookers.
Three posters for "Left Behind" have been released as well. Two of them feature Nicolas Cage stumbling through the desert with a flaming plane behind him. The third one has Cage grouped with Chad Michael Murray, Jordin Sparks, Cassi Thomson ("Switched at Birth"), and Nicky Whelan ("Franklin & Bash"). They're standing in front of a burning city and restless waters.
Whether you're just interested in seeing Nicolas Cage play crazy again or believe in the Rapture, "Left Behind" looks like it could be an entertaining religious disaster thriller. I actually really enjoy Cage and his many hairstyles in all the movies he stars in. I'm very interested in seeing how he'll portray a man in need of God's salvation as the world crumbles around him.
For more articles by Eric Shirey that don't fit on Moviepilot, check out his official website.