"Not a Puff Piece"
What You Need To Know:
Aimee preached to millions of people. Hundreds of thousands claimed to be healed, and from her ministry grew the Four Square Gospel and the modern Pentecostal-charismatic revival. This movie's script represents both sides of the controversy with care. The script is the best part of the movie, since it was filmed on a low budget and the acting is sometimes foolish. In spite of the technical flaws, this movie is very compelling. It opens up a lot of questions and provides an important, entertaining insight into a very colorful character.
(CC, L, V, N, A, D, M) Strong Christian content with historical data that throws a question about the ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson; two obscenities; threats and discussions of violence; two bedroom scenes but nothing shown; upper male nudity; drinking; smoking; and, issues of abandonment and controversy.
GENRE: Biographical Drama
The movie AIMEE SEMPLE MCPHERSON is not the puff piece that one would expect. In fact, it is a fairly faithful account of the life of one of America’s most famous faith healing evangelists, a woman who started her own denomination, the Four Square Gospel.
A strong willed child, Aimee came to Christ through the Pentecostal preacher Robert Semple. They got married and traveled to China as missionaries, where Robert died of malaria. With their young child, Aimee went back to New York and married Mac McPherson while working for the Salvation Army.
Aimee believes that God told her she must preach. When she does, healings occur and people come to Christ. Mac will have nothing to do with this, so she leaves him and takes her two children on the road. Her mother joins her as she starts her ministry in Los Angeles. It grows phenomenally. This growth is augmented when she starts a radio station.
The chief manager and engineer for the radio station is a handsome Australian, and when she disappears for over a month, there are allegations that she was cohabiting with him in Carmel, California, despite the fact that he was married. Aimee insists that she was kidnapped and taken to Mexico. When the prosecutor cannot prove the case against her, the case is dropped. Later, she marries a bon vivant actor who has affairs behind her back. Their divorce crushes her, and she dies under mysterious circumstances with allegations of suicide.
Aimee preached to millions of people. Hundreds of thousands claimed to be healed, and doctors verified many of the healings. From her ministry grew the Four Square Gospel, which is now headed up by luminaries such as our friend Jack Hayford. From Four Square came Calvary Chapel, and from Calvary Chapel came the Vineyard movement, so the history of the modern Pentecostal-charismatic revival is intertwined with the history of Aimee Semple McPherson.
Her followers have always rejected any and all attacks on her character, while her detractors have emphasized the negative. This movie’s script represents both sides of the issue with care and concern.
The script is the best part of the movie. Done on a very low budget, the acting is sometimes foolish, and the sound quality is often awful. However, the producer/director/writer has done a great job of making the detriments in the movie palatable by setting it up like an old silent movie. There are letterbox segments, grainy flickering film elements, audio from the real Aimee’s sermons, and other artistic devices that give the movie a look of authenticity and almost overcome some of its flaws.
In spite of the technical flaws, this movie is very compelling. It opens up a lot of questions and provides an important, entertaining insight into a very colorful character.